Weather proves prob­lem­atic

Con­di­tions rob an­glers of the chance to drop a line

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - SPORT - Rick O’Fer­rall www.FromtheFly­bridge.com

THANKS to the ex­tremely poor weather and a mar­lin free ocean stained with flood­wa­ter, there’s once again a glar­ing lack of game fish­ing news. Con­se­quently, one of the big­gest prob­lems crews may face once the up­com­ing Heavy Tackle Chal­lenge game fish­ing tour­na­ment kicks off next week­end will be a lack of prac­tice.

Other an­glers may scoff at this ob­ser­va­tion, be­liev­ing that fish­ing is like rid­ing a bike. Maybe so if we’re talk­ing about snag­ging snap­per off the bot­tom, but when it comes to hook­ing up and suc­cess­fully fight­ing a mus­cu­lar adult blue mar­lin with lots of at­ti­tude, split sec­ond re­ac­tions that only come from do­ing it ev­ery week can mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween a lost and a tagged fish. And in the up­com­ing tour­na­ment en­vi­ron­ment, a split sec­ond can make a $5000 prize money dif­fer­ence.

This week’s photo shows the ex­act mo­ment when a 200kg plus blue mar­lin crash-tack­led a lure only a few me­tres be­hind a game boat in last year’s Heavy Tackle tour­na­ment. The fish has just hooked up on the rod bent over hard on the right, and as it turns away to run, the crew mem­ber un­der the straw hat is tak­ing a sec­ond or so to process this be­fore in­stinc­tive re­ac­tions take over. What hap­pens next makes all the dif­fer­ence.

Imag­ine an un­event­ful blue wa­ter day af­ter hours of look­ing at the empty wake and only the hum­ming of the diesel and some oc­ca­sional crew con­ver­sa­tion in the back­ground. Then, ka­boom - a mas­sive hookup. Within two sec­onds of this hap­pen­ing, the skip­per will have pushed the power up to get the boat surg­ing away from the fish, the mar­lin will have ac­cel­er­ated to about 30km/hr in the other di­rec­tion, and each crew mem­ber will have bounded across to their as­signed rod to clear the deck, and, in the des­ig­nated an­gler’s case, grab the live rod and strap onto the fish.

There’s very lit­tle time to think be­fore the crew have to get deck cleared and the gear stowed to al­low the skip­per to ma­noeu­vre the boat away from the fish, en­sur­ing that the mar­lin has ab­so­lutely no chance of get­ting enough slack line to shake its head, throw the hook, and dis­ap­pear be­fore the an­gler takes over.

And then, less than 30 sec­onds af­ter the scene in the photo, ev­ery­thing goes quiet, with noth­ing but the sound of the an­gler grunt­ing with the strain as the fish set­tles into the fight and they size each other up.

HOOKED UP: It’s game on as a big blue mar­lin smashes a lure and starts the fes­tiv­i­ties. PHOTO:CON­TRIB­UTED

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