The Marlin Chase
We recently had the luxury of having two weeks off work, chasing marlin over at Bermagui. Like most people, we planned our dates a year in advance, so that we made sure we had time off work and accommodation booked. We planned our trip to confidence with the new moon, and historical data that had said this two weeks in March should be the best.
After arriving in Bermagui, we set out gear up, tested the drags on our reels, made a plan, and stuck to it. However, the first 9 days were the hardest and most frustrating nine days fishing that I’ve ever done. We saw plenty of marlin, but could not get them to take a bait, a lure, or a teaser.
The plan had always been to get Jacqui her first marlin, and this was turning out to be nearly impossible. With morale and enthusiasm at an all time low, we decided to go flat head fishing, and but down a burley trail instead. This was our turning point.
We got some big flathead, and then noticed a really good mark on the Simrad, which turned out to be a Mako shark of 50-60kg. We dropped him a live bait on 15kg line, and hooked up straight away. After a 40 minute fight, Jacqui managed to sink the flying gaff into him, and we pulled him onto the boat. At least now we’d turned a reel in nine days, and we’d filled the freezer with some flake.
The next day, heading out, after catching the Mako, all conditions looked amazing. There was a good vibe on the boat. We began finding a lot of bait fish straight away. This was when we dropped down to gig for bait fish, and all of a sudden we had a wolf pack of mahi mahi at the back of the boat.
All three rods went off, and we were hooked up to some solid sized mahi mahi. Jacqui picked up a rod, and as she picked it up, the fish took off, dragging the rod and the 50-wide over the side of the boat! At this stage, I was down the back of the boat, untangling a mess, and breaking off one of the dolphin fish straight away where it had wrapped the other line. Having been wrapped, the other line didn’t last much longer, and broke as well.
I was sitting down the back of the boat, contemplating that we had just lost 3 fish, a rod and a 50-wide over the back of the boat, when I looked down and saw the rod wedged between the motor and the boat. I quickly jumped down and recovered the rod. I handed it to Jacqui to wind in, and miraculously – it still had the mahi mahi hooked!
Jacqui then proceeded to go to work, and reel in the dolphin fish. Dad put a gaff in it. Talk about our luck changing! The dolphin fish was a great size, and went 19kg.
Trolling recommenced, with our mission to still get Jacqui her fish marlin. We returned to our main plan. At 3pm, we finally had a skip bait taken out of the rigger. Hookem’s 14/0 hook set perfectly in the corner of its mouth. Jacqui was strapped in to her first marlin.
The fight lasted 40 minutes, and we finally go the fish to the side of the boat. Dad tagged it, got some awesome photos, and sent it on its way.
The next day was one of the best days fishing that I’ve ever had in my life. We managed to raised 8 marlin, had 7 hook-ups, and tagged 3. Dad and I achieved a double. Only three of us were on the boat. The day flew, and it seemed like we were constantly hooked up.
Being hooked up to the double, with only three of us on the boat meant that we all had to be on our A-game. Jacqui was driving the boat, clearing the deck, and getting tags ready. At one stage, I only had 6 raps left on the reel, with both our fish heading in opposite directions. But everyone stayed cool, we managed to tag Dad’s first and send it on its way. We then proceeded to run my fish down, and get a tag in it too. Dad’s would have been 80 to 90 kg, and mine would have been 100 to 110 kg.
With our confidence sky-high, we then put out some 15kg gear, and proceeded to get schooled! Once again, hooking up a double and losing both fish. With the bite red hot, and my brand new Stella on board, I wanted to get a marlin on it. We managed to switch a marlin onto a live bait on the Stella. Once again, we were schooled within 10 minutes.
Having broken three lines meant that we only had one 24kg and one 15kg left, we hooked up on a double again. When the lines crossed, the 24kg always wins. The 15kg broke, and Dad put it away. Then helped put a tag into my second fish for the day.
This being our second last day in Bermagui, we had high hopes for our last day. But it was a full moon that night, and with a huge number of boats arriving, having heard that the bite was on, we caught nothing at all! Of all the boats that went out, only 2 fish were caught. This highlights the importance of the moon phases when you’re planning your trips.
At least we had those two epic days!