Mar­lin look­ing mighty im­pres­sive

Get ready for great sea­son

The Weekend Post - - News - TOM VOLLING ed­i­to­rial@cairn­ face­­sPost www.cairn­ twit­­sPost

THE strong­est ju­ve­nile mar­lin haul in Far North wa­ters for sev­eral years has sci­en­tists and south­ern char­ter fish­er­men reach­ing for their fish­ing rigs.

The 2017 Cairns Blue­wa­ter Bill­fish Tour­na­ment has re­sulted in more than 160 fish reeled in from wa­ters around Fitzroy Is­land since Thurs­day morn­ing.

Sun­shine Coast-based mar­lin ex­pert Dr Ju­lian Pepperell said the re­sults in­di­cated good black mar­lin num­bers for the Far North in fu­ture years and a busy up­com­ing sea­son for south­ern char­ter op­er­a­tors.

“In analysing data from tour­na­ments over the years, we know this doesn’t hap­pen ev­ery year,” he said.

“There re­ally is no pat­tern to it. You might get two or three years in a row, then you might not get it again for five or six years.”

The fish caught at this week­end’s com­pe­ti­tion could turn up in wa­ters around Fraser Is­land in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber.

“That news will spread around so­cial me­dia like wild- fire,” Dr Pepperell said.

“It will al­most cer­tainly be a good sea­son for these ju­ve­nile fish in com­ing months ... Every­body down here will gear up and ex­pect these fish to show up.”

The Cairns Blue­wa­ter Bill­fish tour­na­ment is a qual­i­fy­ing round for the World Cham­pi­onships to be held in Costa Rica next year.

More than $15,000 in prizes are to be hooked dur­ing the tag and re­lease com­pe­ti­tion.

The fish are tagged with NSW DPI Tags, which helps fish­ers and sci­en­tists gather in­for­ma­tion about dis­tri­bu­tion, move­ment and growth.

Black Mar­lin blog­ger Kelly Dalling Fal­lon, who lives in the Golds­bor­ough Val­ley, said it was the best year she has seen since 178 fish were caught over three days in 2014.

An­glers com­pet­ing in Bill­fish tour­na­ments at Dunk Is­land, Weipa, Port Dou­glas and Lizard Is­land will be hop­ing the mar­lin stay on the bite.

“They will stay here as long as the food sit­u­a­tion is right for them,” Ms Dalling Fal­lon said.

Most fish are caught and tagged at about 15-20kg.

Dr Pepperell said years ago a fish that weighed 150-200kg was reeled in from wa­ters off Costa Rica four years after it was tagged as a 15kg ju­ve­nile in Far North wa­ters

He said the mar­lin was “one of the fastest grow­ing fish in the ocean”. “We know those fish will con­tinue to grow and will mi­grate around the south­west Pa­cific and in 10 years time or so. There will be a good sea­son for the big black mar­lin,” Dr Pepperell said.

The tour­na­ment will fin­ish on Satur­day and a pre­sen­ta­tion din­ner will be held at the Shangri-La ho­tel on Sun­day.

HEFTY HAUL: Ju­ve­nile black mar­lin are now in big num­bers in Far North­ern wa­ters.

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