The biggest gamefishing tournament in Australasia – the 2018 Garmin Billfish Shootout – boasting over $250,000 in cash and prizes, is on this weekend in Nelson Bay.
Hosted by Newcastle and Port Stephens Game Fishing Club (NPSGFC), over 160 boats and upwards of 700 anglers will converge on the bay, lured in part by the $100,000 on offer for the biggest blue marlin caught weighing over 236kg.
The Shootout also offers $12.5k for champion boat tag and release, $12.5k for biggest marlin over 150kg, $!2.5k for biggest shark over 350kg, and $5k for champion boat tag and release under eight metres, as well as a swag of cash and prizes in a plethora of other categories.
“There’s plenty of money in the pool and it’s definitely an attraction for competitors,” NPSGFC president Peter Simpson said. “We’ve got boats coming from Queensland, Victoria and the best of the best in NSW.”
Conditions have been promising, with solid reports of marlin hovering around the Carpark last weekend.
“They will have to head out wider and a bit further north to get a blue I would think,” Peter said. “We’re still waiting on a good inshore bite of blacks but we’ve had a bit of a sniff from up the coast that they may be on the way.
“Weather forecasts for the weekend are favourable, so fingers crossed.”
A real highlight of the Shootout is the $100,000 on offer for any blue marlin weighing more than 236kg.
Organisers looked back over the years at what size fish had been caught during the Shootout to get a bit of an average about what would be achievable without being easy.
“It had to be a worthy fish for the $100,000 and the opportunity is definitely there,” Peter said. “It widens the appeal to anglers who see a genuine chance to get return on their commitment.”
The Garmin Billfish Shootout is the second of the annual Hunter gamefishing tournaments, following on from the Bigfish Bonanza, hosted by Lake Macquarie GFC last weekend.
Next weekend, Port Stephens will be buzzing again with the 2018 NSWGFA Interclub State Championships, or Interclub as it is known, hosted by NSW Game Fishing Association from February 22-25. And then the East Coast Classic, hosted by Newcastle GFC, will be held March 10-11.
“The Shootout is a great way for anglers to warm up for Interclub,” Peter said. “Many base themselves here at the Bay for the tournaments and it’s a fantastic cash injection for the local economy.”
The Shootout presentation will be held on Sunday night at West Diggers, with special guest, new mayor of Port Stephens Ryan Palmer.
For more information about the Garmin Billfish Shootout, visit www.npsgfc.com.
Over 65 marlin were tagged during the Bigfish Bonanza Game Fishing tournament hosted by Lake Macquarie GFC last weekend.
“The majority were blacks and stripes with a few blues thrown in,” club president Gary Russell reported.
“It was a fantastic weekend with great weather and stacks of fish.”
Champion tag and release boat was Sea Baby IV, owned by Phil McCloy and skippered by Chris Jolly, making it back to back titles,
Chris’ son Reece Rhys took out champion junior angler tag and release with 71,029 points.
Brian Bessoff claimed champion male angler tag and release, while Karen Collins took the ladies crown. Oscar Fleet took out small fry champion tag and release.
Rampage, from Broken Bay, owned by Reilly Page and skippered by Ian Balleish, won the capture division with a triple point score that included a whaler, marlin and two yellowfin tuna.
Reece Woodforth, on Accelerate, claimed champion male capture with a 460.5kg tiger shark, which has him knocking on the 1000lb club door with a claim.
Bec Webber took Lady capture and Colin Frith saluted in junior.
“The $10,000 bounty prize for a blue marlin over 250kg didn’t go off because a 250kg fish didn’t get caught,” Gary said. “The biggest blue for the weekend was a 175.5kg caught by Gavin Kelly on Screamin’ Hoff.
“The shark bounty didn’t go off either because there weren’t enough entries, although Reece Woodforth’s 460.5kg tiger would certainly have won the money.
“There was a lot of fish out there and it was an unreal tournament. The two tuna Rampage got weighed 57.5kg and 61kg.”
Gary reports the scientists who attended were over the moon with the data they collected and will be back next year.
“They were taking eye specimens, looking for parasites and specimens,” Gary said. “It was a good club opportunity to work with them in research which is being shared worldwide.”
For full results, go to www.lmgfc.com.au.
Fish of the Week winner Brock Jones’ dad Gary had a decent run this week, helping his son land a nice mahi mahi, and also tag and releasing a 100kg marlin about 60km off Swansea.