Pretty good weather and more fish than last years event. The Warkworth Gamefish Club 2019 One Base at Great Barrier had a record number of 47 boats 162 anglers.
Brenda L started things off early on Friday with Neil Taylor tagging his first marlin after a very short fight. The lid will be off the can of touch up paint, but it’s good to T&R them quickly as possible. Neil picked up the Presidents Trophy for the first Billfish, $100, and a bottle of rum. Neil followed his marlin success up with the measure and release of a top 3 snapper later that day, a very happy chappy.
Friday saw most boats go wide in slightly choppy conditions, but good water temperatures. Dan Wood tagged and released a stripie on Lady Jade on Friday arvo, so we already had more fish than last year! Some crews were fishing down from Tuts, where less than 40 miles away the wind and chop were almost non existent.
Heaviest. A modest sized stripie was brought into the weighstation on Friday arvo. Sometimes this happens because a fish gets injured by the gear (hook through eye etc) and can’t be released with a good expectation of survival, so it’s better to respect it with some manuka smoke that letting it go. The snapper section was starting to fill out and there were a few mahimahi turning up.
Saturday dawned and it was business time. Good conditions and a few ideas where fish might be holding, but the time constraint of being back at base that night. Marlin hook ups are frequently within an hour of each other at a particular stage of the tide. This year they were a bit more random. The bite was still generally concentrated around the 155 area, but you could say it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy: More boats in a given area = more fish raised and more shots. But it’s a big area and has been consistent over the years. Some of the boats have amazing sonar, and could clearly see baitballs with marlin in attendance. What’s worse—not knowing if there’s fish there, or knowing there is and they’re not biting?!
Eventually two striped marlin did stick, one to Matt Oxborough on Sea Eagle, and one for Henck Otte (all the way from Wellington for our event) on Chicane, skippered by Richard Wilcock. And Aaron Stenbeck on Dirty Berty tagged a stripie, making the trip from The Gold Coast worthwhile for crew mate Gazza’s brother Brett. The trip back to base on Saturday was in the kind of conditions that keep you coming back for more—glassy seas and steering to avoid wildlife like mantarays and sunfish. The marlin must have known we were heading back in too, there were multiple freejumpers on the west end of the 155.
At the Saturday gathering on the Fitzroy Landing we drew our first 6 potential Travel Prize winners, excitedly hanging onto their respectively numbered plastic plates. The raffle for LegaSea was well supported (thank you) and Paula and her team at The Hub cranked out much appreciated tasty burgers. Our radio quiz prizes were awarded for the previous 2 days and we were actually finished up before it got dark.