Home' Afloat : AFLOAT April 2016 Contents 54 AFLOAT.com.au April 2016
with David Lockwood
in full swing
It’s been an absolutely smashing summer for game fish right
around Australia, with big dolphin fish, wahoo, Spanish
mackerel (as far south as the Central Coast), lots of other
tropical visitors like barracuda and Watsons leaping bonito in
Sydney, yellowfin tuna, and blue and black marlin, but far fewer
striped marlin than we’ve seen before.
In Tassie, big broadbill are on the chew, Melbourne has been
red hot with kingfish at The Rip, while Gamex in Exmouth proved
yet again what a world-class fishery this is in The West. With an
Indian summer stretching well into autumn and busting all kinds
of records, and the ocean currents still ripping down the coast,
all these species will continue to bite this month. You can also
count on some calmer autumn winds, which together means
brilliant fishing conditions.
Game fishers have, of course, done the right thing and released
the vast majority of their fish. If you have ever doubted the survival
of tagged fish, especially highly strung blue marlin, then consider
the following, which we share from a NSW Fisheries’ dispatch.
A blue marlin recaptured off Tuross, NSW, by Bermagui BGAC
boat Hardaraddit on the February 28, 2016, has been logged as the
southernmost blue marlin recapture reported to the NSW DPI
Game Fish Tagging Program, which started up way back in 1973,
making it the oldest tagging program of its kind in the world.
The blue was first released by Gold Coast GFC boat Addixion
on June 6, 2014. On release the fish was estimated 230cm lower
jaw fork length (LJFL) and 120kg. After 632 days at liberty the lean
blue marlin was estimated at 240cm LJFL and 130kg.
Based on this relatively slow growth, NSW Fisheries says it’s
likely that the fish was a male, as their growth is known to slow
considerably at the onset of maturity. Males are known to reach a
maximum size of about 180kg while females can reach over 750kg.
The blue marlin travelled a straight-line distance of about 532
nautical miles (985km) in a SSW direction, although it is likely
the fish covered vast distances prior to recapture.
The blue was
actually the second fish
recaptured by Hardaraddit
for the day, incredibly the
other fish was a tagged
black marlin of around
60kg, caught a few hours
It is interesting to
note that the blue marlin
had a longline hook in
the corner of its jaw and it
wasn’t until it was rolled
over to remove the hook
that the tag was noticed.
This means that the
fish had in fact been
caught at least three
times: once by Addixion,
once by a longline vessel
and once by Hardaraddit
and it’s now been re-released once again!
This recapture is also a good reminder to check your fish
carefully prior to release for an already existing tag. It also proves
that fish survive release and fishing can provide a huge benefit
to so many people including the scientific community.
More on the NSW Game Fish Tagging Program at http://
FISH DNA CARDS
While on science and fish, highly respected Australian
marine biologist Dr Julian Pepperell was a special guest at the
hugely popular Gamex fishing tournament in Exmouth in March.
Specifically, he was trialling a new non-invasive genetic sampling
technique, which basically involves collecting fish DNA from their
external body mucous. The new technique has been adapted by
using ‘FTA Cards’ normally used in human forensic work.
FTA Cards are used to store DNA after fish slime has been
obtained from the fish and wiped on the cards, ready to be
mailed to the lab for genetic analyses. This project, supported
by Recfishwest and the Department of Fisheries, is funded by
WA rec-fishing licence money through the Recreational Fishing
In NSW, game fishing tournaments have facilitated over 40
research projects from over 20 scientific organisations. These
include a range of projects that assist in the management and
sustainability of these species through studies of their biology,
ageing, genetics, ecology, reproduction and movement. h
Blue marlin are ranging well south these
days, as this tagged fish off Tuross
The blue marlin caught and released
for a third time in 632 days off the NSW
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