Ocean Magazine : 4 November December 2005
The North Queensland Mining Industry Billfish Challenge for 2005 was conducted from the Breakwater Marina in Townsville from September 3-8 and attracted 25 of the country's finest gamefishing vessels with an estimated worth of over $30 million. One of the world's premier light tackle tournaments, the Townsville Billfish Challenge sees anglers chase billfish on just 6kg tackle while competing for over $40,000 in cash and prizes. Many of the competing boats are charterboats on their way north to Cairns and Lizard Island for the giant black marlin season. Indeed, the Townsville tournament is considered by many as the start of the season. The first of a number of light tackle tournaments conducted in North Queensland that attract the big boats before they head off to chase the big girls. The target fish in this tournament though are far from big. Juvenile black marlin and sailfish which generally range between 10 and 40kg are the sought after species and while these fish are small by comparison to the giant fish off Lizard Island, they are still great sport on the regulation 6kg line class. The area most commonly fished by the Townsville fleet is the grounds east of Cape Bowling Green. Baitfish is the key to success in this area. Large schools of yakkas (yellowtail scad) congregate in this area and generally where there is bait there are fish so this is where the fleet concentrates its efforts. The fishing off Cape Bowling Green can be very concentrated, particularly if baitfish schools are scarce. Indeed, it's not uncommon to have a dozen million-dollar-plus sportfishers working a patch of water no bigger than a football field. When the fish do cooperate, nothing is more exhilarating than roaring around the ocean in hot pursuit of these baby billfish that even at less than a year old think they weigh 1000lb. With waves crashing over the transom, diesel smoke bellowing from the exhausts and a captain yelling orders from the flybridge, it's about as much fun as you can have with your pants on. 106 | ocean THE ANGLER The Townsville North Queensland Mining Industry Billfish Challenge 2005 Tango STORY & PHOTOS: David Granville Townsville is home of one of the world's best light tackle gamefishing tournaments. David Granville reports on all the big boat and big fish action from this year's event.
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