WHEN the marlin bite fires up in this place, it's like someone switched on a light - a very big, bright light. And that's just what's happened in the ocean off Coffs this past week.

We've seen exceptional fishing weather for the last few days, and with the timely arrival of excellent Coral Sea water full of marlin, some great angling has been the reward for those boats that found the time to head out for a day of game fishing.

Last weekend, the strong northerlies that had been making a mess of the fishing opportunities finally eased off, and On Business, Wicked Weasel, Black N Blue and Better than Vegas were among the first to get out to see what was happening.

Za-Ne Rickard on board Tail Chasin with his first black marlin.
Za-Ne Rickard on board Tail Chasin with his first black marlin.

The simple answer was that even though it started a bit slow, after a few days, the momentum built, and by the middle of the week, there was a lot of hot action. All the boats mentioned above found some fish, and they all tagged and released marlin.

As the week progressed, the bite simply got better despite the approaching full moon, which usually slows down the marlin bite in a big way.

Black N Blue again tagged more marlin early in the week, as did Better than Vegas, and then Foreign Exchange and Two Dogs got in on the act on Thursday, when the bite went red hot in the early afternoon just out beyond the edge of the continental shelf east of Coffs.

Perhaps the biggest news of the week for the game fishing community was what skipper Rob Lang saw in the wake of Black N Blue around midday on Thursday.

Rob and his crew were trolling along just at the bottom of the continental shelf in beautiful 26°C water when the biggest blue marlin I've ever heard of in these waters swam into the lure pattern at the back of the boat.

George Blackwell about to bid farewell to one of his two Thursday marlin. Photo - Rick O'Ferrall
George Blackwell about to bid farewell to one of his two Thursday marlin. Photo - Rick O'Ferrall

The fish ambled in, not doing the usual smash and grab raid on the lures that we expect from blue marlin, and from where we were in our boat a few miles away, you could almost hear the collective crashing of jaws hitting the deck on Black N Blue as this massive marlin surged through the wake.

Rob Lang is a good judge of fish and not known for exaggeration, so when he called this fish as being well over the magical 1000lb mark, that's something you could take to the bank.

The fish swam across the wake, and grabbed the lure that was trailing from one of the rear corners of the boat. And here's the good part ... even with that lure in its mouth, its tail was still behind the other lure trailing from the other corner of that 12m boat.

This means that the fish was clearly over 4m in length from its mouth to its tail, which on all the charts puts that creature as one of the biggest blue marlin ever seen in Australia.

Of course, when you're that big, you simply don't have to hurry, because you're the biggest dog around, and you can choose what you eat and what you don't... and you can take your damned time deciding what to get excited about.

Riley Conor's black marlin strutting its stuff behind Black N Blue on Thursday - Photo John Dwyer
Riley Conor's black marlin strutting its stuff behind Black N Blue on Thursday - Photo John Dwyer

Sadly, this huge fish clearly wasn't excited about having a mouth full of plastic instead of real fish, so promptly spat the lure out and wasn't seen again. I have no doubt that Rob and his crew will be spending a few nights staring at the ceiling wondering what might have been had they hooked that really, really huge fish...

Moving on, Black N Blue went on to tag and release a nice black marlin caught by angler Rily Conor as a consolation prize, and Foreign Exchange had a great day too, with angler George Blackwell tagging a black marlin early in the morning, and then a blue marlin later that day.

Sadly, Foreign Exchange subsequently had a striped marlin come up in the lure pattern, but it wasn't interested enough to hit one of the lures, so the opportunity to win a trifecta and pull off the golden Grand Slam of catching all three types of marlin in one day was so near, but in the end, so far.

This is the start of a magic three months when the marlin fishing is at its peak, and when days with a hot bite like this happen any time the morning dawns are clear and calm.

So expect to see a lot of exciting reports like this, and a lot of marlin action photos in the coming weeks.



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