Page 1

How-to Expertise • Boats / Engines • Action • Destinations • Equipment • History • Special People • News • Techniques

switchbaiting made easy better hook-ups, more excitement

how to take the leader on really big fish trailerboat livebait systems

boat tests

> Bluefix North cape 34 > noosa cat 2300

who is taking all the pacific




AU$12.95 NZ$14.90

Fishing features

This issue

BLUEWATER Boats & Sportsfishing Issue 102 (March–april 2014)

5 0

6 4

They Call The Shots Capt Bart Miller ‘Black Bart’ is known around the globe as a high-achieving captain and master luremaker.

8 0

The Bottom Line – who is catching the marlin in the pacific? How many marlin are caught in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean each year, who is catching them and is it sustainable? Dr Julian Pepperell delves into the labyrinth of international fisheries statistics to provide the answers.

8 7

Creatures Of The Deep Needlefishes This small but fearsome predator jumps like a billfish and has been known to kill humans. Find out how.

9 4

Lure Lore Part 18: The ‘Goldilocks test’ How big a lure is too big, and how small is too small? Jim Rizzuto seeks the lure size that is just right.


8 8

A Day to Remember Chasing light-tackle records Master angler Gary Carter describes a trip chasing world records that started perfectly, and then changed.

9 8

Big Fish Small Boats Trailerboat livebait essentials Livebait will often produce results, but knowing how to set up your tank and keep them lively is vital.

The KISS principle for more marlin Switchbaiting made easy. This simple system gives you more excitement and better hook-ups.

9 1

Classic Tomes Tigers of the Sea Back in the 1930s sharks were feared, but brave men set forth to conquer them with primitive tackle.

1 0 2 Smoke & Mirrors Coggin Lures ‘Large Barrel’ This versatile hand-crafted lure has developed quite a reputation with its easy-running, hard-smoking action.

7 0

Technically Speaking Taking the leader Charles Perry, one of the world’s leading professional crewmen, tells how to take the leader on big fish.

8 6

Hook-up with an Expert How to spell dolphinfish Is it mahi, mahi mahi, mahi-mahi, mahimahi, or simply dolphinfish? Jim Rizzuto delivers the answer.

9 2

Welcome to the Big Game Getting started Detailed guidance to help those new to the sport get started and succeed with their gamefishing.

1 0 3 Rum Lines Into the drink The Pirate describes several ways to find yourself in with the fishes – all of them unintentionally!

Boats and more

This issue

BLUEWATER Boats & Sportsfishing Issue 102 (March–april 2014)

who’s who

5 8

7 6

CONTRIBUTOR: JON SCHWARTZ Jon’s introduction to big fish involved catching marlin from his kayak. Inspired by those experiences, he put the paddle down and picked up the pen and camera, and is now a leading photographer of big fish action above and below the water in hotspots around the world. Jon’s photography regularly features in and on the cover of BlueWater, and he has also written a number of informative ‘how to’ articles. See Jon’s work at


First of a new breed Bluefix North Cape 34 This hand-crafted single-screw gameboat handles like a twin-engined sportfisherman, but with greater usable space and much more economical costs.

This cat learnT new tricks Noosa Cat 2300 Sportsman This spacious 7m trailerboat tames rough water and bar crossings, and carries a huge payload. It’s developed a long way from its roots as a 23-foot Shark Cat.

Rod has been a member of Broken Bay GFC since 1990, and has worked alongside great captains like Steve Haygarth, Col Grimes, Brett Thomas, Bob Jones and Bill Billson. Rod, his brother and their father designed and built their 39ft gameboat Murrifin from scratch, from which Rod released a 750lb black marlin and another true giant off Cairns in 2008. Rod loves all types of marlin fishing, particularly switchbaiting on medium-tackle.

Contributor – Capt Ben Bright

N e ws

A n d mo r e ...

1 4

4 2

1 3 0

Ben grew up in North Queensland, working several years on the deck of Reel Chase under the charge of famed skipper Jim Dalling on the Townsville and Cairns billfish grounds. Ben then ran a private boat off Port Stephens before moving to Weipa to work as a guide in 2005. He has since been instrumental in developing their fishery for sailfish and small marlin on the Gulf side of the north-eastern tip of Australia.

Cover: Striped marlin switchbaiting 9 BlueWater subscriptions

38 The IGFA

110 GFAA Report

12 Editorial – Tim Simpson

40 The Billfish Foundation

110 NZSFC Report

14 Newslines

42 Hot Bites – Australia

112 IGFA Report

32 IGFA Rule Book

44 Hot Bites – International

116 On the Waterfront

48 A Site To See

128 Charter Operators

34 Dr Julian Pepperell

104 Tournament News

129 Advertisers’ Index

36 Capt Peter Saul

108 GFAA Junior Tournament

130 Out of the Blue

32 BlueWater Calendar


Photography: Jon Schwartz © BlueWater 2014

SUBSCRIPTIONS (see pages 9, 75) 1300 361 146  or  +61 2 9901 6111 Digital subscriptions

The Editor

Barbed comments How many times have you stung a fish only to lose it moments later? The culprits are probably two tiny yet vital elements that need your urgent attention. Tim Simpson explains a quick and easy fix so you can achieve a successful hook-up far more often.


aspects of gamefishing are fundamental. Master them and you’re likely to succeed; ignore them and you’ll consistently lose opportunities. While it’s common knowledge that a dangerously sharp hook will catch more fish, it is still staggeringly uncommon for most anglers to use one. Either through a lack of knowledge or laziness, few take the trouble to ensure their hooks are ‘sticky’ sharp. And even if they do attempt to sharpen them, it’s usually done with insufficient care and skill so the hook remains far from perfect. The fine-tuning of a hook’s point for ease of penetration is an art. Merely ‘pointed’ is not the same as optimised! There are three distinct types of steel used in most hooks on the market. Two of these – regular steel and stainless steel – require substantial sharpening, while the third kind – ‘high-carbon’ steel – is used to manufacture so-called ‘chemically sharpened’ hooks. ‘Chemically sharpened’ hooks are usually very sharp straight from the shop, but they become blunt with use and then require resharpening, at which time they start rusting badly. High-carbon steel hooks are usually manufactured with barbs much smaller than the equivalent in regular steel. Although this makes them much easier to set, these highcarbon steel hooks are brittle. The point may snap when driven into a hard surface, and the shank can snap under a heavy load. When a regular steel hook – such as Mustad’s popular 7691 ‘Southern and Tuna’ trolling hook – is preferable, you’ll need to sharpen it and reduce the barb size yourself. Do this using careful strokes with a sharp 20cm Mill Saw Bastard file to reshape and sharpen the point, including filing the barb to less than half of its regular size to allow for easy penetration.

Tim Simpson has a thirst for knowledge and a passion for teaching others the skills for success. His adventures have taken him to a long list of tournament wins, six IGFA world records, and more than 500 tagged gamefish.

The barb of your hooks may be responsible for more lost fish than you realise. How often have you had a strike, lost a few metres of line off the reel, and then lost the fish when it threw the hook free? The reason the hook pulled out is often because it never sunk in past the barb. As soon as the fish shook its head, jumped or changed direction, the point came out. A sharp, slim, low-profile barb might have given you a different result. You really don’t need much barb at all to stop a hook from falling out. On many hooks, the barb effectively doubles the thickness of the point. That’s why on a regular steel hook you can file the barb back to at least half the size it comes from the manufacturer. Test the pressure required to sink your hook into a tough mouth. Use a hand weighing scale to set a hook into a sheet of vinyl or a piece of leather. Notice that a sharp point slips in easily, but stops when it reaches the barb. You’ll be amazed at how much additional pressure it takes to sink a large barb as well. Consider the force you’ll be applying to drive that point and barb into a tough mouth. On 15kg tackle that might be as little as 5kg. On 37kg tackle it might be 12kg. Most anglers don’t check, and fish with drags considerably lighter than this. Line stretch – with nylon perhaps adding another 30 per cent of the distance to the fish – further reduces pressure. Pay a little attention to your barb and you’ll get the point across to more fish.

Tim Simpson IGFA: Representative TBF: Board of Directors

BlueWater Staff & Associates Editor Tim Simpson Tel: (07) 5501 5410 Mob: 0400 665 947 Email: Sub-Editor Kate McIntosh Design & Editorial Layout iMedia Corp Office manager Kim Bruce Tel: (07) 5501 5400 General manager Tim Simpson

Editorial and News PO Box 1456, Runaway Bay, QLD 4216, Australia Tel: +61 (07) 5501 5400 Fax: +61 (07) 5501 5411 Email: Advertising David Gleeson Mob: 0411 215 111 Email: Subscriptions

Level 6, Building A, 207 Pacific Highway, St Leonards NSW 2065 Locked Bag 5555 St Leonards NSW 1590 Publisher BlueWater Publishing, a division of nextmedia Pty Ltd ACN 128 805 970 Chief Executive Officer David Gardiner

Commercial Director Bruce Duncan Toll free 1300 361 146 or +61 2 9901 6111 Bluewater website Locked Bag 3355, 12 St Leonards NSW 1590

BlueWater is published by nextmedia Pty Ltd ACN: 128 805 970, Level 6, Building A, 207 Pacific Highway, St Leonards, NSW 2065 © 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the prior permission of the publisher. Printed by Webstar Sydney, distributed in Australia by Network Services. ISSN 1449-6321. The publisher will not accept responsibility or any liability for the correctness of information or opinions expressed in the publication. All material submitted is at the owner’s risk and, while every care will be taken nextmedia does not accept liability for loss or damage.

Privacy Policy

We value the integrity of your personal information. If you provide personal information through your participation in any competitions, surveys or offers

featured in this issue of BlueWater, this will be used to provide the products or services that you have requested and to improve the content of our magazines. Your details may be provided to third parties who assist us in this purpose. In the event of organisations providing prizes or offers to our readers, we may pass your details on to them. From time to time, we may use the information you provide us to inform you of other products, services and events our company has to offer. We may also give your information to other organisations which may use it to inform you about their products, services and events, unless you tell us not to so. You are welcome to access the information that we hold about you by getting in touch with our privacy officer, who can be contacted at nextmedia, Locked Bag 5555, St Leonards, NSW 1590.

Rum Lines

The tall tales and true of a ga mefishing Pirate

Into the drink Being dragged overboard by a mighty gamefish is an unpleasant situation, but as the Pirate discovered, there are more ways to end up together with the fishes. Of course, one too many margaritas can certainly help with such a situation. Author and Illustration: Craig Smith

There are a very select few gamefishing crewmen who have attained membership to the notorious ‘Underwater Wireman’s Club’. Membership is gained rather abruptly while firmly attached with a leader wrap to a large, retreating gamefish. Surviving members have given varying accounts of how they managed to extricate themselves from the unpleasant situation before it became terminal. In one recent season, two of my salty acquaintances joined this exclusive club courtesy of large black marlin. Both later regaled me with harrowing tales of their experiences, and how fast-acting fellow crewmen and a good degree of luck had saved them. One has since become much more careful of his wraps when wiring big fish, while the other went on to become the only person I’m aware of to cement his membership credentials with a repeat performance some weeks later. When the boat he worked on next docked, he jumped off and left in pursuit of a completely different career. While on the subject of anglers going AWOL, I recall another incident off the coast of Mexico. I was ‘el capitan’ on the day – a surefire recipe for disaster – but while I took care of an urgent matter in the galley, a smiling senorita made a guest appearance at the helm, margarita glass in hand. We were happily trolling along when I returned on deck and happened to glance behind the boat, noticing a rather odd object in the wake well behind our lures. I was rather astonished when that diminishing blob in the distance waved a scrawny appendage. Summoning my best bar-room Spanish I enquired, “Donde esta

Willie?”, to which the smiling senorita merrily replied that he was “about somewhere”. After a slightly more thorough investigation, we eventually plucked a very relieved Willie from the ocean. It transpired that while taking a discreet ‘comfort break’ from the duck-board behind the transom (no doubt armed with a margarita) he’d run out of free hands with which to hold on to the boat. Once in the drink, with the prospect of the lure pattern’s rapid approach, Willie had dived as deep and for as long as he could to let the hooks pass safely overhead. Willie had surfaced well beyond the hearing of our assistant helmsperson, particularly since she was bouncing to the samba music playing at considerable volume. Fortunately, I’d returned to the helm with another blenderload of internal coolant just in the nick of time. I once thought I’d lost another boating companion during a gamefishing tournament off Kona, Hawaii. I was filming for a television series from a dedicated chase boat, which on this occasion was being driven by a local skipper who was new to me.

A competition boat had hooked a nice blue marlin, and we arrived on the scene in time to film its subsequent release. While the successful boat departed, I followed the fish through the viewfinder as it glided smoothly down through the indigo water into the depths below. However, when I switched the camera off, I quickly discovered I was very much alone. This was particularly astonishing given the fact there had most definitely been two of us on board only minutes before. As I was trying to figure out how I would explain to tournament officials that I’d misplaced their skipper, his head reappeared at the side of the boat! It turned out he was an enthusiastic marine biologist and an accomplished underwater free-diver. He simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to follow and observe a recently released free-swimming billfish. Not wishing to create a disturbance during filming, he’d discreetly slipped over the side and joined the departing marlin underwater. Perhaps I should try abstinence one day, and make sure I keep my feet on the deck.

THE PIRATE, aka Craig Smith, is an internationally recognised gamefishing artist and cameraman. He can be found lurking around gamefishing haunts across the Pacific, capturing inspiration for his paintings and cartoons. In many hotspots it’s well-known that to be caught by the mischiefseeking Pirate is to be lampooned in future editions of BlueWater.

“I was rather astonished when the diminishing blob in the distance waved a scrawny appendage.”


The Bottom Line ince

the first humans went fishing, it is likely that fishermen have blamed other fishermen for reducing the numbers of fish that they would like to catch. So it should come as no surprise that the same goes for billfish anglers. Commercial fishing is nearly always seen as the main threat to healthy billfish populations, particularly the fleets of tuna longline vessels that have plied the oceans of the world since the mid-20th century. Certainly, as we will see, longliners do catch a considerable amount of marlin as bycatch, as do many other fishing operations, ranging from sophisticated purse seine boats to subsistence village fishermen. However, the big question that I’d like to address here is, how many billfish are taken annually by all methods, including game and sportfishing, and more importantly, are these catches sustainable? The world’s oceans are big places, so let’s focus our attention on the main area that accounts for most billfish catches – the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, which I will refer to as the WCPO from now on. The entire Pacific Ocean is so large that fisheries management there is divided in half. The Eastern Pacific is looked after by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), and the western and central half by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). The majority of tuna fishing takes part in the western and central side, and as a result, that is where most of the billfish are taken. The map of the WCPO shows the scale of this vast area, covering almost 20 per cent of the earth’s surface, with many, many countries fishing for tuna throughout its boundaries. Monitoring and attempting to manage this fishery is obviously a complex and difficult job. Because of their primary interest to gamefish anglers, I will focus here on the three marlin species: blue, black and striped, since statistics are usually separated for those species. Swordfish are also well documented in commercial stats, but are relatively insignificant in recreational catches, and while sailfish are obviously recreationally important, they are poorly documented in commercial catch statistics.

The bottom line

Who is catching the marlin in the Pacific? 50

The Bottom Line

How many marlin are caught in the Pacific Ocean each year, who is catching them and is it sustainable? Does an occasional marlin kept and eaten by recreational anglers make much difference to the general health of their populations? Dr Julian Pepperell delves into the labyrinth of international fisheries statistics to provide numbers and answers to these important questions. Author: Dr Julian Pepperell Photography: Dr Julian Pepperell; Greenpeace; Adrian Gray; Steve Starling; Samoa Tourism 51

Boat Test

Bluefix Boatworks – North Cape 34

Walk The Line is the first of a new breed for Brad Rowe and his Kiwi team at Bluefix Boatworks. After earning an enviable reputation for high-quality luxury boatbuilding, Brad’s latest creation delivers a single-engined custom gameboat with handling and space similar to a larger twin-screw vessel, yet with the economy that makes it very attractive to own.

w e n breed

a f o t Firs 58


Cape 34

Author: Jo hn Eichels heim Photograp hy: John Eic helsheim; courtesy

of Bluefix

Boatworks – North rad Bluefix Rowe grew up in the Bay of Islands, New Ze al an d’s ga m ef is h capital. He spent his formative years boat ing and fishing with his family and crewing ab oard friend s’ boats and with lo cal charter captains. As a young man he turn ed down full-time de ckhand posi tions and a university education to follow his dream of designin g and building boat s. “I’ve alway s been pass ionate ab ou t bo at s, es pe ci al ly gameboats – I was forever sketching th em as a kid. When I finished scho ol I approach ed my favourite New Zealand desi gner, Craig Loom es, who ac ted as something of a mento r to me. When I as ked him ho w you become a great boat designer, he told me to become a good boatbuilder first. So that ’s what I did, taking up an appren ticeship with Auck land boat builders Parson and Way,” explai ns Brad. On co m pl et io n of hi s apprentices hip Brad be gan work for Vaudrey Miller, a hi gh-end custom yard in Auckland . The work at Vaud reys was inte resting and varied. Before long Brad was running the build of a series of superyac ht tenders, including a 36-footer for Larry El lison’s luxury mot oryacht M usashi. “It was gr eat work; we used top-quality materials an d our clients dem anded the highest possible st andard of finish,” explained Br ad. After severa l years boat building in Auckland , Brad and his wife, Charlotte, de cided to ta ke the plunge an d open th eir own business in Kerikeri, ab out three hours’ drive north of Au ckland. The couple bought a bl ock of land, built themselves a house and erected a large boat building sh ed al on gs id e it . Th re e years later the Rowe’s Bluefix Boatworks is thriving, providing refit and m aintenance work and servicing high-profile clients like Guy Ja cobsen (Hoo k’n Bull) and others. While the refit and service aspect of the busine ss is important, Brad has always wanted to de sign and build boats. Walk The Line is the second of his own designs. It follows his 7.5m outboard-p owered trailerable sportfisher Bluefix, which he bu ilt a few ye ars ago (reviewed in BlueWat er issue 91). Walk The Line is his first full-size gam eboat and th e first boat out of the new shed . 59

Technically Speaking

How-to that really makes a difference

How to take the leader on


fish “You must learn the proper way to handle the leader and then practise it repeatedly.”


ou don’t have to be big and strong to successfully take the leader on big fish. However, being healthy, agile and confident will enable you to get the maximum out of your big-game fishing experience by wiring the big fish yourself. Of course, you must learn the proper way to handle the leader and then practise it repeatedly until you feel very confident in your ability. Hopefully, after reading this article you will be better prepared to start wiring big fish, as well as pick up some pointers for improving your ability. I use the term ‘wiring’ as this was the most commonly used material in the past. These days very few crews use wire, with an abundance of different materials now utilised for leader. However, for this article I will use the term ‘wiring’ to refer to handling the leader on big fish. First, you must start with proper equipment. Your wiring gloves must be snug, but not too tight. They need to have good padding across the back and heel of your hand. The heel of your hand is where all the pressure is going to be exerted, so the padding should be strong enough to protect your hand when pulling hard on the leader. As well as providing good protection, the gloves should still be comfortable and


Charles Perry is revered as a master of the cockpit, the type of guy that professional deckies look up to in awe. He’s rigged baits, prepared tackle and handled huge fish in hotspots around the world for decades, including many seasons working the giant black marlin scene off Cairns. In this revealing article, Charles shares his expertise for taking the leader, including a little-known technique for successfully taking wraps even under the extreme pressure of massive fish. Author: Charles Perry Photography: Charles Perry; John Ashley; Kelly Dalling Fallon

flexible enough to do other things. Having tried many different types of gloves through the years, I now use the AFTCO Bluefever Wiremax glove. Another item of importance is the type of shoes you wear. Many deckhands prefer to wear flip-flops (thongs) or sandals while fishing, whereas I still wear moccasin-type deck shoes. Regardless of the type of footwear that you choose, it must have a very good non-skid sole. I fish with a pair of deck shoes that I never wear off the boat. It doesn’t take much walking on the cement to ruin the non-skid seal. Quite often the deck will be wet, so you will need all the grip a good set of soles can give you.


Communication between the wireman, angler, captain and gaffman (or tagman) is vitally important. The angler needs to be aware that once the wireman gets a wrap on the leader he needs to back the drag off to at least half the amount of the fighting pressure. The angler does not need to go into free-spool, but should keep about 2kg on the reel so it will not backlash and

be ready to return to the original fighting pressure if the wireman has to dump the leader. The angler must also be aware that dumping the leader is a likely scenario the first time the wireman gets the leader. If the fish has become familiar with the amount of pressure the angler has been applying, then it may lunge or jump once the leader is taken and that pressure varies significantly. All this should be discussed between the angler and the wireman before the fight begins. If the angler is inexperienced, the wireman might have them practise this a few times before the fish is on, showing them where to put the drag lever and where to go back to once they dump the leader. It is a big plus if the captain driving the boat has had experience in wiring big fish himself. I’ve been fortunate to wire for great captains like Bark Garnsey, Peter B Wright and Gary Stuve, who are all great wiremen themselves. They anticipate what I am going to do by watching what moves the fish makes. I also know that they will manoeuvre the boat to help me wire the fish. In the thrill of the moment, a lot of communication remains unspoken, but is nonetheless

understood between the two. The confidence that the wireman and the captain have in each other cannot be overemphasised. The tagman (or gaffman) needs to be close enough to step in for the tag (gaff) whenever the opportunity arises, yet not too close to restrict the movement of the wireman. It’s good for the tagman to stand behind the wireman, watching to prevent tip-wraps or other potential dangers. When the fish is alongside the boat, the tagman needs to step in behind the wireman and not in front. If the fish lunges forward the wireman needs room to be able to move with it. In this case, it’s important that the wireman maintain a wide stance as much as possible in order to ensure stability.


During the battle, the fish may become accustomed to the pressure delivered by the tackle. If using 37kg tackle, this is probably somewhere between 12 and 15kg of strain. When the leader comes close enough for the wireman to reach out and grab it, this usually means he is bent

“The confidence that the wireman and the captain have in each other cannot be overemphasised.” 71

Lure Lore – Part 18

Lure Lore – Part 18


hat size lure should you use for the most success? Of course, the best lures pass the ‘Goldilocks Test’. Not too small. Not too big. Just right! But determining ‘just right’ means examining a lot of conflicting evidence at the extreme edges of this discussion. Capt Roddy Hays, the ‘legend’ of Legend Lures, remembers a beast he saw at the end of the 1994 season when he thought marlin fishing was done for the year. With no billfish on their minds, his party of anglers came aboard to troll for smaller game. Roddy set out a spread of his special ‘secret’ lures to catch skipjack tuna.

“We made our own lures for skippies out of pen tops in those days,” Roddy recalled. “As we chased skippies in among a rippling swell of fish, an 850-pound-class blue marlin came in and inhaled one of the little lures – all three inches of it.” Roddy, who saw the fish coming from some distance, said, “She just swam along a little quicker than we were going, came up to the lure, opened her mouth and carried on swimming”, adding, “The little TLD reel shrieked louder than a busted bearing in a turbo. That fish had millions of skippies to choose from and took this little peanut.” Regardless of why the marlin took the lure in the first place, it

Passing the ‘Goldilocks Test’

Lure Lore – Part 18

quickly broke free – a fact that is very important to the size issue. But we’ll come back to that after one more ‘tiny lure’ story.


On this particular occasion, one of my lines got twisted and I set it out without a lure to let the twist work itself out. The right way to do this is to clip off the terminal tackle, but I got lazy and didn’t want to retie the bimini double and swivel knot. To my amusement, I saw a bill and dorsal pop up behind the snap swivel as it splashed along in the wake. The marlin made three or four unsuccessful attempts to grab it before finally giving up. Here’s the clincher: I would have had a fairly decent chance

Does size really matter? And if so, how big a lure is too big and how small is too small? Jim Rizzuto discusses the evidence on both sides of this fundamental question in an effort to find the answer that is just right. Author: Jim Rizzuto Photography: Jim Rizzuto; Tracey Rushford; Joe Thrasher; Tim Simpson; Neal Isaacs 95