Giant Black Marlin Fishing: Cairns

Giant Black Marlin: Cairns, Cooktown & Lizard Island:
Giant Black Marlin congregate along the edge of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) from early September until mid December to breed.

The GBR was once Limestone cliffs which formed the edge of the Australian Continent prior to the last Ice Age approximately 14000 years ago. When the ice melted the GBR was submerged 35/50 miles offshore.

The Reef forms a natural barrier running North/South for over 2000km and the Black marlin congregate along its edge.

Male Black Marlin are seldom more than 400lbs but females grow to enormous weights with the World Record being 1560lb and the Australian Record 1442lb.  There have been bigger fish hooked and lost.

There is no aggregation of as many huge Black Marlin anywhere in the world to rival the waters of the GBR.  Put simply if you want to see and catch BIG fish this is where you come.  Over 10 seasons our average weight of fish Tagged/Released has ranged from a low of 385lb to a high of 510lb.  Where else can you do that? In most fisheries a 500lb Marlin is a big fish; not the average.

Because the GBR is 35/50 miles offshore most charters are live aboard for 3 days or up to 10 depending on your requirement.  Thus time is spent fishing; not running backwards and forwards from shore.  Living aboard also allows us to move up and down the reef to the most productive location.  We are aided in determining where to fish by the Sea Surface Temperature Charts and also by reports from other Boats fishing up and down the length of the reef.

The exception is Lizard Island where the Island and its world famous resort are only 20 minutes away from the fishing grounds. It is an attractive option to stay in the Luxurious Lizard Island Lodge and do day trips out to the Reef.  Many anglers enjoy this option and can utilise the Lizard Island Resort as a base from which non fishing partners can also enjoy the ideal location and its myriad of activities.

During live aboard charters the following is provided:

  • All meals, snacks and refreshments
  • Reasonable beer, wine & spirits
  • Snorkelling gear
  • All bait & tackle

Another luxury option is to charter a Mothership as well as a sport fishing boat.  Motherships ranging from 65 to over 100 feet in length ply the reef during the Black Marlin season.  The Mothership has a Chef and Hostesses and provides gourmet meals, luxury accommodation and recreational facilities for Charterers.  The sportfish boat ties alongside the Mothership at night and the Charter party is transferred on board where cold drinks and Hors D’ouvres await.  The Mothership/Sport fishing boat combination can move in concert along the 160 miles of Reef we fish aiming to be in the most productive location.  Mothershipping is an ideal situation for a group of anglers or a non-fishing partner or family members.  The Mothership organises their activities during the day and of course they are welcome on the game boat at any time.

The Typical GBR Day:
Well the Captain and crew are usually up around 6am checking lines and doing maintenance chores.  Guests when they arise are greeted with Tea, Coffee, or Juice and then it’s time for a leisurely breakfast (usually continental).  Then when everyone is refreshed there is the option of a swim/snorkel to view the spectacular panorama of various types of coral and the multitudes of colourful fish which inhabit the Reef.

Then it’s time to go either food fishing or sport fishing whichever is the priority.  We bottom fish on a bommie for coral trout (Yum) or troll for Black Marlin baits.  Generally our priority is to get fresh bait but we also want to maintain an adequate supply of quality table fish.

Sometime between 11am and 1pm it is time to go outside the Reef and set the Heavy Tackle 130lb gear needed for Giant Black Marlin.  After an afternoon of success we pull the lines in around 6.15/6.30pm (depending on light conditions/critical to anchoring) and head behind the Reef to a nice comfortable anchorage.

Drinks and Hors D’ouvres are now in order followed by a quality meal with some superb Australian Wine.  Then maybe it’s some video entertainment or just fish tales.  Another day in paradise.

Trolling for Black Marlin:
The preferred method of fishing for Black Marlin is to troll dead baits and we usually troll 3.  This being two large Skipping Baits (Tuna or Mackerel) ranging from 5 to say 20lbs and one smaller swimming bait.  The Captain is almost always high in the Tower looking at his Sounders and Sonar to “Mark” the fish and watching the baits.  Almost inevitably he sees the fish before people in the cockpit can and he will inform the anglers and crew of what is about to happen.  From time to time lures are trolled, usually if travelling or fishing early, but they are not the most productive method of fishing.

Catching the Big Black Marlin:
It is not necessarily all that hard or overawing.  The “Mistress” owner is a very experienced Heavy Tackle Angler. He has caught over 650 Marlin on Heavy Tackle including at least 10 estimated at over 1000lbs.   Whether you are an experienced angler or first timer the Mistress crew will ensure you are guided and instructed on how to fight a fish from hookup to release with ease.  Our years of experience and knowledge will assist anglers on capturing that fish of a life time.

The baits are in the water, let’s go fishing!

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