Competition goes down to the wire
Competition was fierce at this year’s Billfish Shootout held over the WA Day long weekend, with three teams in close contention for the overall title by the end of the tournament’s second day.
Teams Blue Stuff and Blood, Sweat and Beers were neck-andneck in the lead, closely followed by Pandemonium in Nickol Bay Sportfishing Club’s major annual event at time of print, setting up the competition to go down to the wire on the final day.
The three-day tag-and-release competition, which targets billfish species including sailfish and marlin in waters off Dampier, was due to finish on Monday evening.
Event organiser Ken MacFarlane said experienced fishers with the top few teams had set the tournament bar high this year.
“It’s a good competition this year because there are three teams right in it, and I think it’s neck-andneck between them,” he said.
“These guys know what they’re doing, they’re not amateurs.
“So there’s no shortage of experience out there.”
The 15th annual Billfish Shootout drew 26 boats and about 110 anglers, including from Perth and the Eastern States, with numbers believed to be down because of several resource company shutdowns and bad weather that has dogged the competition in the past few years.
The fishers who did take part dug deep, catching 64 fish — 19 black marlin and 45 sailfish — within the first two days of the tournament.
Ryan Sewell from Swell As was named the best individual angler on day one, while Blood, Sweat and Beers’ Scott Medling won the category the following day.
In the junior division, Cooper Hinchcliffe dominated across the first two days of competition.
MacFarlane said there had been good camaraderie from all teams on the long weekend and strong support from local sponsors.
Fishing conditions varied on the long weekend, as competitors got off to a good start with ideal weather on the first day before winds picked up to about 22 knots on the second, leading to rough waters.
Wind speeds were predicted to worsen further on the final day of competition to reach nearly gale force strength. MacFarlane said despite the conditions, it was good to see local fishers embracing the challenge to catch billfish, some of the fastest fish in the sea.
“They’re fast, they’re strong, they jump, they’re very visual and they do spectacular acrobatics — everything you really want if you’re into that sort of fishing,” he said. “Here you can catch them with reasonably inexpensive fishing gear, so you can get out there on a decent day in a 5m vessel and catch one . . . so it’s not out of reach for most people.”
Former West Coast Eagles player Glen Jakovich returned to the Shootout as event MC for a third year and was reportedly thrilled to catch his first billfish since joining the competition aboard the Blue Marlin on day two.
For a full list of results from the Billfish Shootout, see next Wednesday’s issue of the Pilbara News.
Stuart Proud and Glen Jakovich with a sailfish caught aboard the Blue Marlin.
Blue Stuff’s Tom Radley, Luke Leech and Tameka Dodd were the top team on day 1 of the competition.
A black marlin tagged by team Get Loose.
Day two best individual angler Scott Medling, centre, with son Leith and MC Glen Jakovich.