The waters east of Queensland’s Fraser Island and Hervey Bay, just below the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef, have long been known to produce exceptional marlin fishing – for blacks, stripes and blues. However, to reach the open ocean from Urangan harbour it’s a long trip up the inside of Hervey Bay even before you get to Breaksea Spit. The 75 nautical mile journey from the marina to the continental shelf drop-off means very few gamefishing boats ever get the opportunity to sample outer Fraser Island’s rich treasures.
In early summer last year, several gameboats heading south after completing their Cairns heavy-tackle charter seasons stopped at Fraser Island and found the region firing with outstanding numbers of blue marlin. Capt Luke Fallon also took his liveaboard charterboat Kekoa from Cairns to Fraser Island specifically to fish light-tackle on a blue marlin world-record quest for renowned US anglers Gary and Sherrell Carter.
Several boats from the Gold Coast also made their regular trek north to fish the grounds, including Graham McCloy and Barry Alty, both of whom had a burning ambition to catch Australia’s first officially weighed ‘grander’ blue marlin – as recently accomplished in Exmouth, WA. In November, Graham caught a fish on a lure that he felt sure was over the required 453.6kg, but it turned out to be a black so he tagged and released it.
Aboard his charterboat Mistress, Barry Alty has spent more days fishing these grounds than anyone else since 2015. With his son Brett at the helm, for the 2017 season he took his boat north in mid-August and soon found plentiful baitfish and world-class marlin action. Making 3-day-plus live-aboard trips from Urangan, by November 26 they had tagged 114 marlin in 44 days of fishing, comprising 87 blues, 20 blacks and 7 striped. The blues, Barry said, were typically between 180 and 300kg, and the stripes between 110 and 135kg – all fat and in peak condition.
The day before the Mistress team headed back to the Gold Coast on 7 December, Barry released four blues to around 320kg and lost a potential grander blue that smashed a Tornado lure made specially for him with the words ‘Barry’s Grander Lure’ inside the head. The marlin screamed off 100m of line once hooked, then threw the lure, but followed it as Barry cranked it back to the boat, striking it twice more and hooking-up briefly before again shaking the hook free. What a heart-stopping way to finish the trip!
Mistress will be back next year from August to November inclusive, offering live-aboard charters. For details, call Capt Brett Alty on 0417 766 734.