The fish averaged in excess of 160 lb
The fish averaged in excess of 160 lb

We backed up to the bait school and threw in two baits and it was on agin
We backed up to the bait school and threw in two baits and it was on agin

It was one of those days when you cannot feel anything but confident; after all, we had already caught a lot of marlin for the season and today was perfect for it no wind flat calm ocean and very little company. . I glanced southward and spotted a boat on the horizon, apart from that it seemed like we had the ocean to ourselves. Sometimes that can be an advantage, sometimes it is better when a few of the mates are around as we swap info via the radio; such conversations as "We've got a truck load of bait in 03 and just let one go", and so on can help guide us to the most productive spot.

The good thing about fishing at the Port is that the skippers are all good friends and help each other, after all the better the reports and results the busier we all are.

Upon reaching the bait grounds in 75 fathoms, I eased the throttles back to trolling speed as Soxie made ready bait jigs, rods, bridle needles and tag poles. We trolled the grounds looking for the bait schools, the sounder redded out with vast schools of blue mackerel under us.

"Give it a jig here, Soxie?" I suggested from the bridge Rob dropped in the bait jig and pulled a full string of beaut big mackerel baits. The boys helped Rob take them off the jigs and despatch them into the live bait tank three more drops and we had a tank full of giant mackerel baits. On the fourth drop, three striped marlin followed the bait jig up and swam around the transom of the boat. We quickly bridled two baits and hooked two fish, both over 100 kg the day had started with a vengeance. The big fish danced every which way as I tried to figure which one to target first; and the fish on the left side stuck his head up I backed over and we released that one. One down, one to go.

The next one took 20 minutes and he too swam away with a tag for the trouble, only one marlin virgin to go. As I glanced seaward, I could see a bunch of shearwaters working a bait patch. We steamed the 500 metres to inspect; when we arrived there was a massive bait ball thousands of yellowtail balled up on the surface by a school of striped marlin like I had never seen before. There were perhaps 40 to 50 marlin tearing around the panicking bait, balling it tighter and tighter, until at a given moment they would attack the frenzied bait.

We backed over to the ball, threw in two baits and simultaneously hooked two stripes straight away. We would then chase them down, release and then back the bait for two more.

We could have thrown five baits in and hooked up five, but that would have been too messy and busy two was still a challenge; these were all big fish and did not always head in the same direction. Many times we slewed Broadbill on its keel to change direction in order to chase the fish, one around the bow then one to the stern, it was a Captain's dream to back up on this sort of action. We fished like we were in a frenzy and within four hours had tagged 16 marlin, it still only three o'clock.

One of the boys asked, "Hey, Ross, isn't your previous best 18?" I replied, "Yeh!" He added, "Let's see if we can beat it." I agreed, knowing where they were coming from. We had the ocean to ourselves so there was virtually no-one else competing for the bait ball so it made it that much easier.

If there were other boats, the fish may have spooked, but on this day we just kept going back to the baitfish and just kept hooking them up the lads certainly were not virgins anymore and by 6.30 pm we released our 21st marlin for the day we were all exhausted, but the adrenaline rush and the wild fishing was keeping us fired up. When we caught the last fish they were still snapping. We backed the boat into the pen that night at 8.30 pm.

It was a tired team that night as we struggled down the ladder from the bridge, it was now 15 hours since we first set foot aboard that morning and that is an honest days work, but no pain no gain some fool once said. Soxie and myself had to wake the anglers who had slept all the way home, quite understandably. Milestones were only made to be beaten, whether or not we will ever achieve such a feat again is debateable. We had fished the best marlin day of our career, a day when everything was rightthe calm seas, the lack of opposition boats, and a schooled marlin population like we had never seen before.

I refer back to my days as a wet-behind-the-ears, lure-trolling, marlin fisho in the seventies when I longed for the day that we may be lucky enough to catch a multiple of marlin in a day. I had seen a boat that caught three in a day and just gazed in awe at the flags and dreamed that one day it may be my boat with that many flags on the rigger!

In the cockpit below, 35 years later, Soxie is putting 21 flags up the rigger. Putting it into perspective, I must admit that I was personally very proud: I consider that I have served my apprenticeship well over the years, I also needed the best crewman to help me achieve the result and in Soxie I had that.

It's sort of funny how after all those years you tend to take things in your stride a bit more. We don't have to prove ourselves anymore; generally people know that Broadbillwill never be too far from the action, we have achieved much along the way but we still go out and have runs of catching bugger all and that keeps our feet on the ground that's what fishing is all about.

About The Author: Ross Hunter

Company: Ross Hunter's gamefishingcharters p/l

Area Reporting: sydney

Bio: Father and son Captains Ross and Glenn Hunter operate their most respected gamefishing vessels Billfisher and Broadbill out of Sydney and Pt Stephens (approx 100 nm north of Sydney)They have been professional skippers for 20 years and have pretty much caught or hold records for most gamefish caught in our waters. The species are blue, black and striped marlin, spearfish,wahoo, mahis then in winter gut busting yellowfin, bluefin and makos.Some of their achievements can be viewed on their excellent web site They specialize in marlin in the summer and yellowfin in the winter. Catches of up to 21 marlin in a day have been recorded.

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