Geoff Hawkins Meritorious Capture Award claim forms are available on the ANSA website.
Meritorious Capture Awards
To commemorate a lifetime contribution of service to ANSA by the late Geoff “Hawko” Hawkins (Life Member ANSA National and ANSA NSW Branch) the Board of ANSA and State Branch Delegates attending the 2016 AGM and Branch Delegates meeting, unanimously agreed to dedicate these prestigious awards to the memory of Geoff. The awards hereinafter will be referred to as the “Geoff Hawkins Memorial Meritorious Capture Awards”.
Award Claim forms are available here.
The Geoff Hawkins award for meritorious captures for 2016/17 was won by Vicki Searle from Nickol Bay Sportfishing Club, Karratha.
There were some outstanding entries in 2016/17 Geoff Hawkins Meritorious Capture Award. Notable entries included a 292.5kg Tiger Shark on 15kg by Belinda Rayment (St George SFC) and a 1.2 kg Diamond Scale Mullet on 1kg by Max Grasso (Sub junior Nickol Bay SFC). The winning entry for 2016/17 though went to Vicki Searle from Nickol Bay Sportfishing Club, Karratha, WA for her outstanding capture of an 18.4 kg (1330mm) Narrow Barred Mackerel on 2kg. This is Vicki’s story of a remarkable mother and daughter team achievement.
The weather forecast for the week was looking good and myself and my daughter were fortunate to have that week off work so we planned to get in about 3 days fishing. It was also the end of June and being a member of our local Nickol Bay Sport Fishing Club thought it would be an opportunity to try and get in some point scoring fishing.
It was day 1 of our 3 day planned fishing sessions but it wasn’t until 3.00 in the afternoon that we got to our local Dampier boat ramp, half an hour later we were at our fishing spot. Our first fish we decided to target was a long tom on 1kg. Within half an hour we had bagged a 1.4kg long tom on 1kg. Not exactly the big one we had experienced in this spot but decided it would get some points.
Now 4.00 o’clock, I decided that we had time for a quick troll before heading home. Our depth was around 8-10 metres and was looking to target either a barracuda or narrow barred mackerel thinking that both species in this area would be around the 7-9kg mark.
Without too much preparation I grabbed a Halco RMG lure straight from the packet and tied it to a short sport fishing leader which was 80lb mono. All this was on my 2kg spin outfit. Started to troll this outfit but wanted to have a look at the sounder/plotter to make sure we were heading in the right direction so put the rod in the rod holder. Shanae was initially driving the boat but went forward of the boat to get a water from the esky and I went to the echo sounder to check we were on track. Within 2 minutes the rod was bent and Shanae and I said at the same time ‘we’re on’.
Shanae came back to the wheel and I grabbed the rod. Half an hour later and with some excellent driving skills we still had not seen the fish but I had felt the weight and said ‘it has good weight’. Another half an hour later and seen a glimpse of silver sitting about 3-4 metres down. It was also starting to feel very very heavy and informed Shanae we will have to angle it up. I thought I seen a speck of yellow and starting thinking barracuda. Within a few minutes later the rather large narrow barred mackerel was at the boat. We were very unprepared for the size of it and also for handling it as we only had the landing net out, previously for the long tom and also thinking barracuda. Haha I made Shanae net the head of the mackerel but then we couldn’t get it in the boat as the rest of the fish was hanging outside of the net. I then looked at Shanae and said ‘don’t panic but I think we need the gaff’. Shanae grabbed the gaff and put it under the mackerel and look at me and asked ‘is there where I gaff it’ I replied ‘yup good spot’ and Shanae came up gently with the gaff and then brought the fish over the side of the boat onto the deck.
We both look at each other and yippeed with delight and hugged and high fived and yippeed some more and hugged and high fived again. The time was 5.00 o’clock and we had just had an amazing 2 hours of fishing time. We then headed straight back to the boat ramp and weighed it with our local weighmaster. 18.4kg narrow barred mackerel on 2kg line. Our Nickol Bay Sport Fishing Club President Luke Leech was also there for weigh in and informed me that it was a World Record.
It is currently being processed for a State, Australian Sport Fishing Record and IGFA World Record.
My daughter Shanae was my champion that day.
Nickol Bay Sportfishing Club
Meritorious Capture Awards for 2015/16 were jointly awarded to Paul Wolfdale and Shane Evans – both from SA Branch. Read their great capture stories here.
Mulloway Madness. By Shane Evans.
Mulloway Taggers S A.
One of my goals for the summer of 2015/2016 was to catch a Mulloway on light tackle land based and in November the fish started to show in the Coorong Estuary. In a couple of weeks I had caught and released a 75.5 and 83cm fish on 10lb braid on a 2-4kg rod, so I decided to load it up with some 1kg. pre-test. In the first 3 weeks I had lost 5-6 fish that I was confident would have broken the existing record due to silly mistakes. I kept persisting over the next couple of months with regular trips to the same area, only resulting in fish that I didn’t feel would qualify for any of the current records thus tagging and releasing rather than keeping with a faint hope of achieving a record. Over the next couple of weeks we went from an average of 10 mulloway in a few hours down to lucky to get 1. Then on the 13/3/2016 a couple of mates and myself decided to give it one last try for the season as the fish had slowed right down. We went to one of our preferred areas and for a couple of hours and we hardly had a bite.
One of my mates found a couple of dead Mullet on the bank and put one out to drift downstream, while I went and put on a 100mm shallow diving Minnow lure and started flicking it out as I made my way up to a small boat ramp when the fish took my lure. By the way the fish hit I didn’t think it was of much size as my line was also loaded up with a lot of weed. I felt a couple of head shakes, with just a steady pull as the fish headed upstream until I noticed that there was only about 30 meters of walkable area left in that direction before I had a jetty and a deep channel to deal with.
Just as I thought it was going to end badly, the fish turned and started heading towards the river mouth. I called out to one of my mates back at the car and he retrieved his drifting mullet bait as I tackled one of the channel marker buoys. I had lost a fair bit of line by now clearly showing me the fish had control of the situation. I continued downstream in waist deep water, trying to get into the shallows and get along side if it. I avoided another marker buoy, and still was not convinced of the size of it, expecting there to be more weed than fish. As I got into water I could walk in easier, the fish came to the surface with a large tail slap that drew my attention rather quickly. It now became a tug of war in short bursts with me winning some and the fish doing the same, but at least I was in a straight line with it to make the fight a bit easier.
I was now confident that the fish was of a size that could achieve my second goal I’d set myself, and I was prepared to play this out for as long as it took. This went on for a few minutes where I would get the fish to the edge of the channel and my mate was ready to lip grip it for me but I wasn’t sure the fish was spent enough and I didn’t want to risk startling the fish resulting in a possible snapped line.
While all this was going on the Seal had taken notice of the action and was thinking about my fish. As the Seal approached my fish from behind, quickly thinking my mate threw it one of the dead mullet which it seemed to gladly accept and turned away from us allowing the battle to continue for another few minutes before finally I was able to lead it into very shallow water as it turned onto its side and was ready to be lip gripped.
That made what was a very quiet days fishing, into one of my best so far with the fish measuring 81cm and weighing in at 4.988kg.
The second award for 2015/16 went to
Northern Districts Sportfishing Club S.A
A Hard days work has it’s rewards
In mid October 2015, I had the opportunity of going out of Cape Jaffa chasing some barrel Southern Blue fin Tuna with 3 other club members. John has a charter boat in the south east, and with Marcel and Simon we hopped on board to try and get one each. We drew straws to make it fair who took the first scream of the reel. I drew the shortest, so I sat back and waited my turn. Unfortunately, we only had 2 hook-ups, with Simon and Marcel weighing them in at around 78kg and 86kg. As we left at the end of the day, I mentioned to John that if he had an available space next week, I would be free as I was on annual leave.
I got the call on Tuesday morning, so I arranged with another club member, James, as he was also champing at the bit to land a barrel as well to come along. He kindly offered for me to take the first run as I had missed out the previous week.
We hit the water at dawn on the 28th. and trolled all morning without turning a reel. At 1.30 John told us we had to start heading in as he had to be back home at Kaniva in Victoria to cater for a function at the pub that he runs that night. Slightly saddened, we headed back in. As we approached the 50 meter line we could see a few boats congregated slightly to the port of our course. We thought we would go over and have a look, and as we approached we could see a whale breaching with its calf. Then as we got closer we could see seals, dolphins, and tuna smashing a massive school of baitfish with the whales also getting in on the act. One boat circled around, hooked up and then dropped the fish. John said that we could do 2 laps around the action to see if there was anything decent in there, as he had planned to be back at the ramp around 2 pm.
On the second lap the 37 kg. outfit screamed off. As the run slowed and I picked up the rod, John cursed, laughed, and told me I would have to explain to his wife why he would be late home. For half an hour I fought the fish til we saw it the first time and we knew it was a big barrel. I had it close to the boat a few times in the next 30 minutes with powerful runs seeing it disappear in the distance until it got its mojo and started doing circle work. When these fish are 3 times your line class and they start doing circles, they are beasts to get up. John told me he was going to drive away from the fish and try and break the hold that it had on me. It seemed to work, and we did this several times until we could get it close to the boat.
Pushed for time, John wanted a gaff shot and get a tail rope on it. When the gaff went in that green fish all hell broke loose. A 2 metre gaff was bent in 3 places like a dogs hind leg, and in the process, Alex the dekkie got hit in the head and James thumb was crushed on the gunnels with what was left of the gaff handle. When the fish came around the second time we sunk in a smaller gaff, the bent one, and a wool bale hook on a short rope. It was a mad panic to get the rope on the tail, and when we did, we tied it off to a cleat and relaxed for a few minutes to calm down and work out how to get the fish onto a 6.5 meter boat as the transom door was not big enough to get it through. When the fish had bled out it took all 4 of us to heave it over the side of the boat. It was then that the adrenalin rush started to subside and I collapsed on the floor of the boat as my legs were shaking so much I couldn’t stand up.
We raced back in and John said he had to leave to get back to the pub in time, so we dragged the fish out and he had to head off. With a 2 metre plus fish on the ground we decided to cut it up in to 3 pieces and shove it into the big eskies in the back of the wagon. We couldn’t shut the lids, so we covered it in as much ice as we could, bought some towels in town, wet them down and covered it up for the 3 hour trip back home to Adelaide. Unfortunately I got a speeding ticket on the way home but it was worth it. We went straight to the club recorders house, weighed the pieces on the clubs certified scales and proceeded to fillet it.
We couldn’t believe it went nearly 130kgs. The head section alone was over 53kgs. Numerous friends and family had more than their fair share of tuna steaks for the next 3 months.
John landed 20 barrels in his boat that season and mine was the heaviest. Woohoo. I hope never to land one of these great creatures again, but wouldn’t mind getting a tag in one.
Meritorious Capture 2014/15
Aaron Anderson (Jnr)
Wollongong Sportfishing Club
The Day of the Dollie
With plenty of reports of good Dolphinfish being caught off the Illawarra coast and with the Christmas school holidays quickly drawing to an end, Aaron and I launched Megalodon out of Bellambi. After quickly filling up on livies at the Austinmer bait grounds we pointed Megalodon east.
We had launched from Bellambi as we had heard there were lots of FADS in the area. After 10 miles we found our first FAD in 60F. There were plenty of little Dollies present but nothing legal so we continued east again.
In 70F we found another FAD and this one held the mother lode of Dollies. It was a magic day. Light winds and smooth seas and we had a heap of big Dollies swimming at the back of the boat all to ourselves.
Aaron flicked a livie out on 3kg which was a pretty brave move considering a lot of the fish looked to be around the 1 metre mark. His bait was quickly engulfed. We did not see the culprit but judging by the explosion of white water it was a good fish.
After some blistering surface runs it quickly sounded and a stalemate ensued. The fish continued to hang doggedly beneath the boat refusing all our attempts to alter its fighting pattern.
Persistence and good angling eventually paid off and 1 hour and 1 mile later I eventually gaffed a lovely female Dolphinfish that pulled the scales down to exactly 8kg. This fish had taken considerably longer than the 7.4kg fish Aaron had taken a couple of years earlier on 3kg spin gear. He was pretty stoked by his latest capture.
We headed back to the FAD. I quickly accounted for a similar sized fish to the one Aaron had caught earlier, taking all of 1 minute to knock it over on 8kg. “That’s how you do it” I said. Aaron agreed and pulled out the 6kg spin rod to smash his next fish. He wasn’t going to spend another hour on the next one. Famous last words. He pinned on the biggest Slimie in the tank and heaved it out. It didn’t take long for an enquiry and a solid run. Aaron struck and had weight but I could see his bait being skipped across the surface. “Stop winding. He’s dropped it” I said. He immediately opened the bail arm and waited. The hapless livie disappeared in a smashing surface explosion. Line flew off the Abu spin reel at a great rate before Aaron flicked over the bail arm and set the hook. This fish took to the air a good distance from the boat and was a lot bigger fish than his first.
I have never seen a Dolly pull line like this one did. Its surface runs were sizzling and unlike Aaron’s first fish it stayed high in the water column. The stamina of this fish was amazing. It effortlessly would strip off line in 100m bursts, time and time again. The more stick Aaron gave it, the harder it responded. It was great to watch as with the conditions, the fish was generally clearly visible.
Time ticked by and eventually the fish began to tire. Again after exactly 1 hour I pinned an 11.7kg Dolphinfish. It wasn’t until I slid it over the side that we even realised it was a bull. What a great fish. “How do you feel” I said to him. His reply was classic. “Dad I feel like a spew”. Two hours’ worth of steady concentration and excellent angling on a warm day had taken its toll on Aaron. He didn’t spew and gradually regained his composure for some photos on what is his largest and one of his toughest adversaries in his fishing career to date.
Our planned troll for a Marlin would have to wait for another day. It had been a day to remember with two excellent light tackle captures for Aaron and we headed home. Both captures were very good captures but I would like to nominate Aaron’s 11.7kg fish on 6kg as a contender for this year’s Most Meritorious capture award.
Meritorious Capture 2013/14
Eddie Wong’s Barra
I was fishing the sand bar along a creek on the Ross River, Townsville on24 May 2014 on a low tide. My boat’s bow was sitting on the sand bar with the bow anchor on the bar and the stern anchor holding into the adjacent deep water channel. the depth of water under the stern of the boat was about 400mm.
I had 2 rods out – one running with 2kg and the other with 1kg. Both were rigged with live herring.
As the tide was slowly running in, the activity of bait fish and larger species working around the boat was starting to look interesting. Some “boofing” sound of Barra working the shallows was a good sign of things to come.
Suddenly my 2kg rod started to bend, I picked up the rod slowly and as i did the Barra leapt out of the water – it was a good fish!
I let the fish run and once again it came out of the water – all up it must have leapt out of the water about 5 times.
By this time the fish was starting to tire, but it still continued to weave upstream and back.
As there was very little water in the creek the fist stayed near the surface and the sand bar. After about 40 minutes the fish was on the surface close to the boat, with very little water under it.
I slowly played the fish to within netting range and then slowly slid the net under the fish.
The end result was a 14.8kg Barra on 2 kg – with an overall length of 1080mm. A great days fishing.
Townsville Saltwater Sportsman Club
Meritorious Capture 2012/13
No Meritorious Capture was submitted or awarded for the 2012/13 year.
Meritorious Capture 2011/12
Dave Ellis kingfish capture
It was later in the afternoon when I hooked a kingfish near the hot water outlet near the Pt. Augusta Power station.
The water depth is at best around 6 m in holes but mostly less than 4 m, probably nearer to 2 m.
The way that it fished is that the boat is at anchor with live baits being used. When a fish is hooked the anchor is slipped with a float attached to be retrieved at a later date.
In this case two kingfish rods with baits were deployed and a small outfit for bait fishing was also out.
As I was fighting the first hooked kingfish and about 4 mins into the fight with the boat cast adrift, a second king took the second bait.
Well I was surprised that suddenly there were two large fish to attend to that has never happened to me before.
The fight took many twists and turns when the fish ended up on opposite sides of the boat, with one rod held in my hand and the other between my legs.
The one between my legs got hooked with my bait rod and it went overboard. Luckily I managed to retrieve the bait rod and continued to fight both fish.
It was soon after this that the second hooked fish broke off and left me to deal with the first hooked kingfish.
I know this sounds confusing but it is how things happened.
I managed to land the fish after a stout fight took a few photos, return it to the water alive and watch it swim away.
I estimated the weight to be around 35 kgs and approx. 5 feet long.
Dave Ellis Junior
Meritorious Capture 2010/11
Peter Oberg’s kingfish
The meritorious Capture for the year 2010 to 2011 was won by Peter Oberg for his unreal capture of a kingfish over 30 kg from the rocks using just 15 kg pretest line. This is Peter’s story.
27 years of this solid LBG stuff and that has to be the unluckiest fish in the ocean – but by Gawd’ we deserved it!
As a dedicated rock fishing old bunch we had previously lost that many of them doing things our right ways so something had to work at some stage I guess.
Myself and Damo hit the cliffs after a 3 am alarm with good friend Frank in tow all the way from down south Mexico city, and had some high hopes of finding Kingfish given some recent good feelings and reports.
Frank was more pumped than Dolly Parton’s boobs and feeling like the world was now within his grasp. We were to climb ropes down massive cliffs and the adrenaline was flowing. Things were not actually quite so pleasant. Prior to heading to water level we aborted plans due to the wind smashing us at the top of the cliff so we opted to leave all LBG gear elsewhere 80 metres above sea level and ended up heading down with spin rods and plans of whatever would eat lures in mind. Stripies were possible but bonnies plagued us into “big red” mode so it was a quick change of plans again, a minor relocation and we hit a spot we had not fished for about a year in the hope of a solid red or two.
We initially found a few smaller models but then mongrel red rockies, wirrahs and good old bakers started being a pain in the backside so again we altered a couple of things.
On that note Frank went about getting massively dusted by a local population of big hungry Groper while Damo and I persisted with chucking baits on light gear to an area that we knew often has big kings in it as well.
To cut a long story short (but is not possible), I had yet another snag and Damo had his rod sitting jammed in a crack. He couldn’t stand watching me casually sipping yet another warm beer while he fished… so as all good in-laws do he went about rigging my rod to get me back in the drink…you know, just in case… I just wanted more beer as it was 10.30am and well and truly morning tea time!
About 15 seconds later his rod started to play up a bit, and I mean just a bit, and he told me to grab it and haul in yet another silly one kilo reddie. So after another minor brother in-law tiff that ended in me giving up I picked up the rod and called it for a stupid wobby.
Not long after away it went and I quickly changed the call to a possible huge red of damn good proportions, but again after the second even more than massive run, I called it for a big king.
Keeping the not so long story short, and after over half an hour of struggling, cliff climbing, losing line, gaining line and all that crap we somehow managed against all odds, drag re-adjustments, a 3/0 Kmart hook, a piece of Sergeant Baker, no trace, a weird sort of foot long double with a knot that ordinarily most would curse, a 150 metre top shot of 15 kilo pretest on top of not much of gawd knows what, not to mention seeing a strange knot appear a number of times, battling who knows how many waves, 25 knot wind gusts and being reefed a few times, this thing ends up
being expertly gaffed and a corpse is hauled from the ocean…. and I’m taking it!… much also to the credit of Damo himself, along with Damo’s rod reel and tried and tested rig setup!
Not being that well prepared for this sort of encounter due to the plan changes, and not having registered scales with us that were big enough for ANSA, GFAA or club purposes, it ends up taking Damo, myself and Frank about 4 hours to get the whole thing and all our gear back out. Meanwhile we had also run out of beer, bourbon and whatever else we needed to survive.
So there we have it! Its the story that ends years of suffering count-less losses of 30 and 40ish fish on every LBG setup imaginable, aches, pains and a year of endless envy of a mate who scored a 30 plus late 2009, relationship breakups, financial burdens and end-less seemingly wasted time. Not all is as it would have seemed.
Finally my skinned knuckles and bruised, smashed and torn body can relax , just a bit….and have yet another well deserved beer. Phew…..Now its time to go snapper fishing again!
Meritorious Capture 2009/10
Scott Gusman’s Story
It was the 28th of August 2010, the 1st day of the Eildon ANSA Convention, and I was fishing this completion with my Dad for the 3rd year in a row. I didn’t have much luck in previous years. We got to the spot Dad decided to go at Eildon Pondage. Very, very early in the morning, it was just starting to get light when we got there and was very cold, but there was no wind and the water looked nice. Dad set two rods up with Mudeyes under floats, and I was casting a lure for a while.
It was very still and quiet for the first hour or so. Then Dad noticed the float go down and called me to the rod, by the time I got there it was too late. Dad put another Mudeye on the hook and cast it out to the same spot, nearly straight away it went under again, this time I was ready and struck the rod, missed it again. “Just small Trout.” Dad said. So again, Dad put a Mudeye on the hook and cast it to the same spot. Within a minute the float goes down again.
Dad said “Leave it and hook as the rod bends.” And that is what I did, it worked, I was on. It started taking line and then it jumped towards us. It made a big splash, it looked huge! Dad brought up the other rod so I wouldn’t get tangled with it. I think Dad knew it was big because he was serious and kept on repeating “Relax, take it easy, it is going to take a while.” After about a 15 minute fight, we finally had it close enough for Dad to net it, and he did. It looked massive. Dad and I were very happy.
It was a long trout at 62 cm and weighed 2.2 kgs. I won my first trophy at the Eildon ANSA Convention and helped win the Junior Team Trophy for my club – Williamstown Sportfishing and Game Club.
Meritorious Capture 2008/9
Anysia Oberg’s Marlin
Saturday the 14th February was an eventful day for young 9 year Anysia Oberg. The Canberra and Batemans Bay Game Fishing Clubs had organized a combined fun competition weekend covering Friday evening the 13th through until Sunday evening. Along the way this involved a get together, with camping, BBQ’s and a fair amount of fishing. Whilst some opted to stay on dry land due to the weather not being the kindest, many others ventured out in their boats in search of some Marlin and Tuna that visit the southern NSW coastline this time of year.
Being a member of Canberra Game Fishing club, as well as the Australian National Sportfishing Association (ANSA), Anysia and her mum Anne stepped on board a 40 foot Blackwatch boat owned by Gary Cairns of Tackle World Fyshwick in the ACT. Anysia is no stranger to fishing, mostly fishing off the rocks, and her father Peter regularly fishes on this same boat in tournaments, but on this day the club had arranged a ladies day and only the females were able to fish. Local identity and fishing legend Ron Smith went along as one of the crew to help the ladies out with the setting of lines and making sure the drinks were flowing freely when required.
The trip out involved a late start after a BBQ breakfast, and the early cloudy sky held rain in patches, however once the boat reached about 20 nautical miles from the Marina the skies cleared to a very sunny day. The sea was not the kindest, being sloppy and rough, consequently Naysh was feeling a little sea sick. Once the lines were set for marlin and the boat started trolled around the wide blue ocean just inside the continental shelf towing lures, some organisation of who was on strike had the interest up.
After a number of strike rotations with some small tuna being caught it was Anysia’s turn once again and she put herself in the deep end when at 11.00 in the morning a hungry Marlin grabbed one of the lures and she raced over to grab the rod. She had some difficulty getting the rod from the holder under the strike drag setting but with Ron adding a safety precaution to the process. After a bit of a tussle she was safely in the game chair with the 37kg rod and spent the next 52 minutes fighting and successfully capturing a big Striped Marlin. She managed to get the fish to the boat on a number of occasions, and each time it would take line again swimming several hundred metres. Anysia is not all that big, and it was a long tough process however with Ron’s guidance and moral support, as well as the emotional support from all on board including her mum, she did not give up and finally came out on top. Almost every marlin caught on the boat is tagged and released but on this occasion Naysh opted to keep the fish for the BBQ to feed everyone and to show her proud Dad when back on dry land. The fish was weighed by the Batemans Bay Game Fishing Club and recorded at 86.6kg, almost four times her own weight.
Approximately 70 other members were there to greet her when she arrived back at thecampsite where she had a rousing reception with lots of cheers and handshakes. The after effects of sea sickness disappeared and she celebrated with a big can of soft drink.
This was the first Marlin that she has ever had the opportunity to tackle and afterwards she said “my arms, legs and back were a bit sore”. Naysh also said that the next Marlin she gets she will tag and let go. Her mission now is to land a big tuna from her dad’s boat and wants to go with him in the next game fishing tournament. Incidentally, Naysh won the joint club competition as champion angler for the weekend, which is a top effort amongst some credible other anglers, and she says “I just can’t believe I caught a Marlin!”
Meritorious Capture 2007/8
Russell Emms’ Story
This is a submission for most meritorious capture for the 08/09 season. The angler is Russell Emms, from Wollongong Sportfishing Club.
On the 17th of October 2008 Kev Ward, Luke Dodd and myself did an overnight fish on the shelf that we will never forget. The overnight fish had been carefully planned for around 2 months. Talk about tuna, big sharks and broadbill that could be on offer had all three of us pumped up for a big night.
We left Bellambi boat ramp at around 2pm on Friday,stopping at our favourite bait reef to fill the live bait tank with a dozen livies before heading for Stanwell Park Canyons. The trip out was less than ideal and took longer than we expected pushing into a stiff NE wind. Arriving at the canyons as the sun was slowly disappearing behind the escarpment we headed north so we would drift over the canyons with a couple of hours of burley in the water.
Within 10 mins of starting to fish a small mako turned up and was keen for a feed,he had a few attemps at eating a 3kg salmon on twin 16/Os before I rigged a dead slimie on a light wire. Kev deployed the bait on 6kg tackle and the mako pounced. It put on a great show for around 10 mins before being gaffed. Not much happened for around an hour after the mako until a livie was taken but it was bitten off after a minute or so after hooking up. Luke hooked up while cubing and the salmon on twin 16/Os was also taken but unfortunately the lines crossed and both fish were lost.
The next hour and a half was quiet until Luke spotted a nice Mako of around 80- 90kgs hanging right at the burley pot. Luke fed the Mako a striped tuna on 15kg tackle. It kept him busy for around 40 minutes till we got a tag in it. While Kev was removing the hook, another Mako of around 250kgs turned up and surprised Kev and myself. Not wanting our hands anywhere near the water while a couple of hundred kgs of Mako was charging around looking for a feed we decided to cut the smaller Mako off and feed the big Mako a whole stripey on 24kg tackle. He took the stripey and instantly took to the air. It was unreal seeing a mako that big backflipping in the moonlight. Unfortunately after 4 big jumps the wire pulled though the crimping sleeve and he was gone. A lot of swearing followed mostly directed at certain manufacturer who crimped up the wire (we all make our own wires now).
Thinking the big Mako might return I rigged another stripey and let it sit around 10 metres behind the boat under a balloon. Kev and Luke decided to have a quick snooze. I kept burlying and was almost nodding off when at about 2.30am the balloon bobbed under and broke free and the ratchet started to tick over. Thinking it was another shark I laid into it after free spooling it some line giving the mystery fish time to get the bait down. First up it just felt like dead weight as I pumped and wound it straight to the boat. Then it realised it was hooked and the fun began.
With under 8.5kg of strike drag, the mystery predator stripped 300m of 24kg line from my Tiagra with ease. I worked extremely hard to get every inch of line back on the reel only to see it disappear again at an alarming rate. This tug of war went on for around an hour and a half. As the trace wire appeared Kev took a wrap as I stepped back but was unable to hold on as the unknown predator took a dive. Kev indicated he had got a quick glimpse of colour under the light of his head torch and said it may have been a broadbill. I thought Kev was just getting carried away. It was another hour before the wire was up again. I took a step back as Kev took a wrap. Luke had the tag pole in hand ready for a shot. As the fish came into view Kev gave a shout “its a f#@kin Broadbill, get the gaff”. Luke dumped the tag pole and had the flyer in its shoulder in no time. I dropped the rod and hit it with a back up flyer. We quickly lifted the broadbill on board and dropped it on the deck. There was hi 5s and yahooing all round.
I was speechless for about a minute while it all sunk in. Kev and Luke admired the shear bulk around the Broadies tail as it was still kicking on the deck. We decided to pack up and head for home to get the Broadbill on the scales asap. After many photos the Broadbill later weighed 73kg on 24kg tackle. I have never caught any fish that has fought so hard. After researching and reading up on Broadbill I realised how special this catch was, especially in Australian waters. The broadbill is regarded by many as the pinnacle of game fishing. Having been lucky enough to tangle with one of these mighty fish, I can confirm they truly are the Gladiators of the ocean.
I have to say a huge thanks to Kev, Ward and Luke Dodd because I could not have done it without them -THANKS BOYS!!!