CHASING BLUE MARLIN OFF THE GOLD COAST
The Gold Coast is one of the best Marlin fishing spots in Australia. Although the Blue Marlin are available to catch all year round, when the Black Marlin leave the area in March, the Blueys have the run of the region and become even more prolific. So grab your rods and load up the boats, because between March and July, chasing Blue Marlin is the most fun you can have on the water off the Gold Coast.
To sniff out Blue Marlin, you need to get an idea of where the baitfish will be. In recent years, the Mackerel schools in Southern Queensland have provided ample pickings of Blue Marlin. Ideally, there will be some structure on the bottom and the presence of an eddy to stop the small baitfish from being swept away. The baitfish school will congregate here, like sitting ducks for the Marlin. All you need to do is get your bait in there and the Marlins will snap it up in the frenzy.
This is essentially what went on at the infamous Deep Tragg location in Southern Queensland. Fishos were pulling four or five Marlin out a day! I even spoke to one fisho in the area that reckons he knows someone who pulled out more than 10 in one day. They weren’t small either. There are some whoppers in these waters, with some big beauties coming at over 900lbs.
Find these locations by either visually scanning the horizon for bait schools and marine bird activity. However, the presence of feeding dolphins is more in tune with what you want. They are likely diving deeper and if they are feeding, it could indicate the presence of a school far beneath the surface. I would recommend using a sounder. Marlin can be 20 miles offshore in deep water. If you aren’t sure of the signs to be looking for, get a fish finder to lead you to the baitfish schools.
FAVOURABLE MARLIN CONDITIONS
The best conditions for chasing Blue Marlin are days with southeasterly winds which bring a warm current closer to shore. Head 20 miles out to the continental shelf in the golden window of two hours before until two hours after high tide and you’ll find a Blue Marlin bonanza. In these conditions, the sea can get pretty choppy and the fishing environment you can handle will depend on the size of your vessel and its seaworthiness.
The most common way of landing yourself a Marlin is by trolling, so you want a suitably light overhead outfit to help you in your endeavour. In terms of reels, I usually use a 1200 loaded with 50lb braid. But you could probably manage on 30lb. I also like to use a wind-on leader, so I can move around the deck when I’m on a fish and I can clear the motors.
Because you are going after a strong, game species, I would suggest using a rod and reel combination that was designed for use together. The last thing you want it your gear letting you down when you are on to a monster. Find a reliable rod and reel pairing and don’t deviate from it.
The Blues are fast movers when they want to be. Combine that with the dropoff of the continental shelf, and the fact that you don’t want to pull something with a nose that pointy too near the boat while it has still got a lot of jump in it, and you might want to think about your drag capabilities.
If you are using lures, go for a skirted lure on up to five rods. Blue Marlin are attracted to the boat’s movement. They’ll come and see what all the racket is, then spot your tasty lures trailing behind and take a bite.
For live bait, go for Mackerel or Yellowtail Tuna. These hold together pretty well and you don’t need a lot of experience to rig them up well. Skilled fishos in these parts use everything from Garfish to Mullet and Bonito but you don’t need to overcomplicate things. You can always stick to Mackerel.
WHEN YOU’RE ON A BLUE MARLIN
When you get a taker, let it run and take plenty of fishing line. At this stage, you will probably need to clear the deck and get ready for the fight as well. 10-12lb of drag will let them run while you get your fighting head in place. You also want to keep the fish away from the boat because these things are madder than a box of frogs and can change direction and jump into the cockpit without a second’s warning. Keep the line tight and start winding the fish in at a steady, controlled pace.
Landing a Blue Marlin is one of the biggest rushes I have had when offshore fishing. I am still chasing a whopper though. The largest I have taken was just under 500lbs. As with almost every fishing application, the real battle isn’t with the fish, it’s with the clock and trying to find the time to get out on the water.
Do you have any fish-fighting tips for chasing Blue Marlin? Let us know in the comments section below.