Juvenile Billfish off Cairns

By Dylan Brier-Mills

The juvenile Black Marlin season off Cairns has well and truly started. With some half decent weather recently we headed out on a couple of different occasions, into the general location where the bait balls were holding and fish were being caught regularly. 

The first trip out started off great with a quick Jig saw us boat some nice Coral Trout and other bottom species. By about 10am we started trolling a spread of skirted lures and a teaser. The water was a deep blue colour and with bait balls showing up on the sounder every couple of minute’s we had a feeling it wouldn’t be too long before a bite. 

The first Bite came about 20minutes in to our trolling session, a cranky little Black Marlin that smashed a skirt out of the outrigger and had started heading the other way. Putting on quite a show jumping in every direction the adrenaline was pumping, I was on strike for the first bite of the day that quickly turned into my first Billfish, a healthy juvenile Black Marlin about 15kg’s. A few quick pictures along with some high 5’s and a lively release we put the spread back out and started trolling again. 

While trolling we were talking about how good it would be to get a few more fish like that for the day and how cool it would be to catch a sailfish. About an hour later after lots of food and boredom we spotted a fish on one of our lures, not a Marlin but a Sailfish, did someone hear us talking!? Anyway we fed the lure back to it and hooked up. It was my lucky day and a day I’ll never forget, it was my turn again as I had never caught a sailfish and the other guys had. Before the spread was even cleared the fish was about 150m away tail dancing all over the surface. After some chasing and lots of winding with the Shimano TLD we had the fish alongside the boat. It was a lot bigger than the black estimated at about 40kg before we gave it a swim and off it went. 

The end half of the day wasn’t as exciting but we still managed 3 other bites only hooking one of them that happened to be a small black that jumped off. We weren’t too worried because we had already checked the forecast and had planned out next trip chasing the exciting sports fish. 

Only a few days later we were out once again fishing the same area. Our spread was set and 10mins in we had a small marlin eating the teaser and another playing with one of the lures. Sadly we missed both fish but it was defiantly an amazing site and some crazy action. During the day nothing seemed to be going our way, maybe we had used all our luck on the previous trip. About an hour before pulling the lines in we decided to move locations and it paid off. A solid juvenile black smashed the skirted lure and hooked itself. The skipper Jas made quick work of it and we finally had one on board. A slow day with lots of music, eating, drinking and laughs all made worthwhile in the end. 

The Rods and Reels we were using on these trips and will continue to use throughout the light tackle season here in Cairns FNQ are Shimano TLD 20’s-25’s with Shimano Tcurve Deep Jig 200-400 O/H rods. The combos are super light and smooth to use while fighting these fish. We kept it simple and trolled 5 skirted lures from Black Pete Marine, darker colours getting the most bites. 

A few days fishing I will defiantly never forget and this is only the start with more reports each day of multiple Billfish being caught. This Cairns light tackle season is shaping up to be a great one so pick the weather and get up here in your reef boat or book a charter with some of the local game boats like Shikari or Billfish.