The Big One

With the moon and tides still ideal and given the success of the past four days, we elected for a quick turnaround at Cooktown and a run back to No 5 (and a half) Ribbon Reef. We dropped the baits at 3:35pm.

There were scad breaking the surface nearby and Capt Jared brought Shaka close. At 3:55pm we hooked up. We knew from the first jump we had a really nice one and within minutes the drag was up to sunset.

Unusually, she headed for the reef and we spent a long 20 minutes fighting within meters of the coral. She actually jumped alongside the reef and at times we could see her shape against the white sandy bottom. She decided to seek better territory and headed in behind the reef through the opening between No 5 (and a half) and No 6 Ribbon Reef, stripping line at will. The balance of the fight took place well inside the reef.

This was the strongest fish we have ever caught on Shaka. The fight lasted 2hrs 45minutes, past sundown and into the dark. We had her to the boat only once in that time and CP (Charles Perry) touched the leader but couldn't get a wrap. I lost count of the number of times the double came up only to disappear again. The drag was at sunset for the entire fight and she was still able to jump after two and a half hours.

Finally, we got her up again. CP got a wrap, eased her up and Elliot Muller got the tag in. She swam away in excellent condition. I, on the other hand, required several beers to recover.

We called her at 1,100lb plus, our third grander in three days.

Charter Milestones

Tag In on Rick Moulton's 900lb Black Marlin. Charles Perry on the wire with young gun Elliot Muller on the tag pole.

Strick Mays, Rick Moulton and Ronald Davis from the USA joined us for our charter out of Cooktown, all in search of their first Black Marlin. The weather was perfect at 10 to 15kts predicted for the next four days and there were reports of big fish all over the reef.

We ran out to No 5 Ribbon Reef and around 4 o'clock Rick hooked up to a nice one. It was Rick's first Black Marlin and it gave him a hell of a fight over the hour it took to tag and release.

We called it at 900lb. Watch the Video

Next day the fishing on No. 5 was hot, hot, hot. We got four, including another nice one for Strick Mays we called 900lb. Strick's first Black Marlin that day marked the completion of his all-species billfish slam. Ron's fish was his first Black Marlin.

Days three and four saw us reach the ultimate milestones, granders for both Rick and Ron.

We picked up a smaller one early on day three. Rick's fish came late in the day and involved a two hour fight to bring her to the boat. The shot shows the hook wrapped around her bill, so she was able to put all her energy into the fight.

The scenario was the same on day four, a smaller one early in the day followed by the big one late in the day. Amazingly, Ron's fish was also wrapped around the bill and took an hour to tag and release.

Over the four days we saw 17, hooked 12 and caught 9 with four over 900lb. With winds in the 10 to 20kt range and smooth seas, it was just like the brochure!


With the tournament over, winds at 25 to 30kts and after nine days at sea, downtime was the order of the day. We voted for light tackle fishing and a safe anchorage for restful nights, swimming and snorkling.

The fishing was pretty successful and coral trout figured strongly on the menu again. It's a hard life but someone's got to do it!

20th Lizard Island Classic

The 20th Lizard Island Classic Black Marlin Tournament was contested by 47 boats from 15th to 21st October.

Shaka started strongly with two fish tagged on Day One, fishing off the bottom of No 10 Ribbons Reef. Billfish, fishing in the same area, released four fish to lead the tournament.

Unfortunately, our luck didn't hold and we saw nothing on Day Two.

Day Three saw us fishing the bottom of No 7, where we tagged one at 650lb. By this time, the lead had gone to Diamond Girl on five so if we were to remain competitive, new tactics were required.

Acting on information received from non-tournament boats fishing on Linden Bank and seeing around six fish each day we elected to make a dramatic 50nm run south, by-passing the rest of the fleet and gambling that the fish would still be there.

It looked like our gamble had been successful when we tagged one in the first session of Day Four and then hooked up at 5:15pm that same day.

Unfortunately it was not to be. We called the fish at 700lb and she fought magnificently. Despite a battle that lasted 75 minutes, most of which spent with the drag at sunset, we lost her.

This was to be our last chance for the tournament. Our luck had run out and we saw no fish on days five, six and seven.

The tournament was won by Tenacious with eight fish. Our four fish (6-6-4) earned us a creditable 8th place.

Overall, some 120 fish were tagged, including six 'granders'. Next year?

Watch the Video

Zac Gordon gets a nice one

Our charter before the Lizard Island Tournament was Bruce Tilley, Tim Gordon and their sons Dan (Tilley), Zac and Riley Gordon. For Zac and Riley, this was their first taste of fishing heavy tackle. Conditions were again rugged, with some 25/30 kt periods and a big swell.

With about 20 minutes of fishing time left on day one, Zac hooked up to this fish which we called at about 800lb and battled it for 40 minutes before it was tagged and released.

Check out the fight and some masterful wiring by the legend, Charles Perry, in the video.

Watch the Video

The big girl comes to visit

After two weeks of (relatively) small fish, we finally saw some real action. The baits had barely hit the water at 10:30am when the skip bait was monstered by a giant. Alas, one jump and she was free.

The day progressed with action aplenty. All up, we saw 10 and had 8 bites. It wasn't until 5:30pm that the big girl came to visit. She hit the skip bait, leaving a mighty hole in the water and stripped 300m of line before showing herself. We called her at 700 to 800lb.


With big tides pushing dirty water out to the middle reef, the choice for this week was either up on No. 10 Ribbon Reef or down on Linden Bank. For better or worse, we chose Linden Bank and saw lots of activity from fish that weren't hungry early in the week. One little fella followed our baits for 15 minutes. We wondered if he wanted to come home with us.

However, by Friday they were hungry and we tagged and released four to Sunday, all in the 250 to 400lb range.

We're still waiting for the big one.

Coral Trout - before and after

First catch a 2.5kg coral trout

Then coral trout baked with fresh herbs.

Scale, gill and gut the coral trout, salt and pepper inside and out. Insert sprig of thyme into the stomach cavity and place fish in well greased baking dish. Pour over oil and sprinkle with chopped spring onions. Cook for 15 minutes in oven pre-heated to 200C.

Slide baking dish out of oven long enough to pour over wine and sprinkle with the fennel and parsley. Cook for another 15 - 20 minutes before serving the whole fish on a plate garnished with lemon slices.

Serve with creamy mashed potatoes.

Razor Gang

Linden Bank is justly famous for giant black marlin, but there are plenty of other big fish around. This wahoo weighed in at just under 70lb.

And this dogtooth tuna was around 120lb.

That's a lot of sashimi.

Charles Perry on the deck

Working the deck as our No 1 this season will be Charles Perry. CP (as he is widely known) is probably the most experienced deckhand in the game fishing industry world wide. Born into a fishing family in North Carolina, he began charter fishing with his father at the age of six and has traveled the world, working with some of the finest captains.

In the Caribbean, he wired over 50 blue marlin six years in a row and he spent thirteen seasons on the Great Barrier Reef, weighing in 28 black marlin over 1000lbs. Wiring for internationally known angler Stewart Campbell for 12 years, he fished Ghana and the Ivory Coast, Africa as well as Madeira, the Canary Islands, and Cape Verde. CP wired five blue marlin world records and five spear fish world records during this time.

CP has other interests, of course. A natural fish attractor, his charm extends to other species. CP assures us that he is happily "hooked" himself, but it appears he just can't turn off the vibe.

We welcome CP back to the GBR for the 2006 season and look forward to having him add to his tally of granders.

Cairns 40th Anniversary Tournament

Some 64 game boats contested the Cairns 40th Anniversary Tournament last week in conditions which certainly tested the boats and crews. Winds were 25 to 30kts for the four days of the tournament, with seas 2.5 to 3m outside the reef.

A total of 100 black marlin were tagged, mostly around the 200lb mark although several larger fish to 950lb were released.

Shaka caught three and our sister boat, Mauna Kea, won the tournament with nine.

Our most exciting moment was one that we missed. This lively 200lb fish was hooked in the cheek and came to the boat very green. He went berserk when our number 1 took the leader and put a nice hole in the transom before pulling the hook.

Watch the video!

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