Marlin Grander Slam – Third Attempt

Great Barrier Reef, November 2014

True to the motto that if you don’t gamble you’ve already lost I set off again this year on my quest to catch a black marlin grander.

From 11th to 20th November I chartered the “Tradition” with skipper Tim Richardson (Australia) and his two crew men Paco Vela (Puerto Rico) and Garrett Penley (USA). I was accompanied by a friend from Frankfurt, Thomas Raudnitzky (a non-angler, presenter, reporter, copy editor and camera man).

We started our adventure in Cooktown and the first couple of days were spent fishing Ribbon Reef No. 10. The sea conditions were favourable to start off with. Relatively calm seas and good currents raised our hopes of having a superb trip.

On the very first day over Ribbon Reef No. 10 we were in business. We caught a magnificent 850 lb. black marlin in calm seas and fine weather. The following day the currents were to change and the water took on a green hue – conditions that were far from ideal for marlin fishing. Nevertheless we did catch a 500 lb. black marlin. Another one weighing some 300 lbs followed the next day so we had taken three out of three in the first three days.

Then our luck with black marlins changed. On day 4 we failed to raise a single one.

On day 5 we fished Ribbon Reef No. 7 and in the afternoon had a superb strike from a very large black marlin. The marlin hit the three-foot long Spanish mackerel we were using as bait so hard that it was bent double and the hook embedded itself in the root of the bait’s tail. The marlin jumped again and spat out the mackerel – tough luck because that might well have been the third grander. We had another two strikes that day and caught a small marlin of about 150 lbs.

On the following days we failed to make contact with any more marlins and finished the trip in Cairns after nine days with four out of six black marlins.

One day was particularly frustrating. Towards evening three boats close to us all had hook-ups with large blacks in the space of about an hour and although we were right in the middle of the action there was no sign of a fish behind our boat. On our way to the spot where we were to anchor we ran a wobbler off the jigging rod and had a monstrous take towards sunset. It was a very big dog-tooth tuna which completely emptied the spool of my reel within 15 seconds. 350 metres of 100 lb. line simply stripped off the reel even though the drag was at a tight setting. When only the stopper knot on the spool remained my arms got longer and longer. It felt like two seconds had passed when the 50 lb. swivel on the wobbler exploded and the fish was gone …

I have no idea how big that fish was but a week before our trip a dog-tooth weighing 143 lbs. had been caught the same way at the very same spot.

We managed to catch some good fish when fishing with light tackle and poppers and snorkeling over the reefs is still sensational. The atmosphere with the lads was great and the recuperation level was 100%.

What shall I say? “If you don’t gamble you’ve already lost”. On my next attempt the motto will be “we have to try even harder”. Great Barrier Reef – I will be back.

Stephan Kreupl, December 2014