sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : Baby Billfish – A winter warmer in the West
Baby Billfish – A winter warmer in the West


'The stunning colourations of a sailfish are always a sight to behold. These fish are the most coastal of Aussie billfish species, and can often be found very close to shore'    Ben Knaggs

Around most of the country, the onset of winter spells the end of the summer game fishing season. The warmer, southward flowing currents of summer ease off come mid May, and the waters south of the Tropic of Capricorn become too cold for most of our large, pelagic predators. Marlin are by far the most popular and highly sought after of these game fish species, and winter fishing for marlin is basically a non-event in almost all of our major game fishing ports. All except that is, for those in the north of Western Australia.

At this time of year WA’s north and north-west coasts are the place to be if you’re keen on game fishing action during the ‘off season’. From Coral Bay to Broome, and right up through the Kimberley if you’re adventurous enough to travel that far, the winter months offer some great action on small black marlin (below 50kgs) and sailfish. While these aren’t the dream sized billfish every angler aspires to tick off their bucket list, these baby billfish are a joy to catch on light tackle.

Small black marlin can be found in large numbers at times off the north-west coast of WA, even during the middle of winter -  Ben Knaggs  

What really makes these small blacks and sails such an excellent target at this time of year is their accessibility. These fish will happily push right in close to shore, which means you don’t need a big boat to go chase them. Even the good ol’ 12 foot tinnie will get you amongst this inshore run of high flying baby billfish.

The method for tracking down and hooking into these exciting little game fish is actually fairly simple. In this part of the world where obtaining live baits is often difficult, small skirted lures in the six-eight inch size range are the best option. These should be rigged with light gauge single hooks such at the Gamakatsu SL12S to help improve hook-up rates. Alternatively, garfish rigged as skipbaits can also be used.

Troll your lures at a speed around five-seven knots (depending on conditions), which should see them popping out of the water every five seconds or so, but not so aggressively that they tumble or spin. Keep a regular watch on your lures, because these small billfish will often shadow a lure for a long time before striking. But more on that in a moment.

As you’re trolling along, stay on the lookout for any signs which could lead you to feeding marlin or sailfish. Birds dive bombing the water are a classic indication, and so should always be investigated. It’s a bit of a generalisation, but brown birds such as gannets are the ones that will most often signify feeding billfish, whereas white birds such as terns and seagulls usually feed on smaller baitfish that tuna and mackerel will ball up against the surface.

Schools of baitfish themselves – whether spotted rippling on the surface or in tight masses at mid water on the sounder – are also well worth trolling around, as are current or tide lines. Clean purple-blue water helps your chances of raising these fish onto your lures, although both sailfish and small black marlin will still occupy green looking water, so long as it’s not too murky.

These small billfish tend to go absolutely berserk once hooked. Be prepared for some fireworks! -  Ben Knaggs  

Sometimes the first indication you’ll have that a billfish has found one of your lures is the rod suddenly bending over and reel screaming. But many times these small billfish won’t be in all-out attack mode, and just follow or half-heartedly bill whack your lure. This is where it pays to be on the lookout, with a plan B ready to go.

When trolling for small billfish, always have a circle hook rigged garfish (or if possible, a live bait) ready to throw back into the wake at a moment’s notice. A fish that is only half interested in a lure will often wolf down a bait, so this is a sure fire way to improve your catch rate.

This technique is known as switch baiting, and can be taken a further step by dispensing with the lures altogether. In their place, teaser lines of plastic squid and bird teasers are trolled, which are specifically designed to bring the small billfish up to the back of the boat. With a switched-on crew, it’s quite easy and really exciting to ‘switch’ the fish from the teaser to a bait and secure a solid hook-up thanks to the circle hook.

Small skirted lures will work well on baby black marlin, but always have a circle hook rigged dead or live bait ready to pitch back to a fish that that’s not quite in the mood to eat a lure -  Ben Knaggs  

In waters where mackerel can be a menace to delicate skirted lures or precisely rigged troll baits, switch baiting can be the go-to method. It’s also the first choice when sailfish are the likely target, as these lightweight billfish are notoriously difficult to hook on lures with standard ‘J’ hooks. Switching them onto a circle rigged dead or live bait increases the hook-up rate many times over.

The north of WA just doesn’t seem to have a game fishing ‘off season’. The billfish may be smaller in winter, but if you scale down your tackle they’re no less fun than their big brothers and sisters of summer.


by Ben Knaggs

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=109973

2:46 PM Wed 29 May 2013GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.







News - USA and the World

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 CEO Knut Frostad talks (Part III) *Feature by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World team,


Audi Melges 20 World Championship - ‘Samba Pa Ti’ crowned champion by International Audi Melges 20 Class Association,










Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Final race to decide champion by International Audi Melges 20 Class Association,










Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show - 13 things to See and do by Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show,




Volvo Ocean Race: Update from Team Vestas Wind in images by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz,








Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Classic Garda conditions on day 2 by International Audi Melges 20 Class Association,
























Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Alessandro Rombelli's 'STIG' leads by International Audi Melges 20 Class Association,








PWA Alacati World Cup - Exciting finish on day 2
Match 40s find the surface again + Video
Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Day 1 images by Max Ranchi
Clagett Regatta names first Executive Director
Transatlantic Race - Fleet expanded for 2015 edition
IFDS World Championship overall
Anna Tunnicliffe: Alinghi finishes second - Extreme Sailing Series
2014 18' Skiff International Regatta - Day 2
2014 Audi Melges 20 World Championship - It's go time in Garda
2nd Annual Keith Dinsmoor Regatta September 13-14
Aldo Alessio Regatta - Three days of tight racing
PWA Alacati World Cup - First blood to Van Der Steen and Offringa
Oakcliff Sailing hosts the Nacra 17, 49er and 49erFX Nationals + Video
International 18ft Skiff Regatta underway on San Francisco Bay
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014 - Quality fleet for Maxi Classic
Sailing Champions League - which is Europe's best sailing club?
Weta fun at the Wine & Roses Regatta
Extreme Sailing Series: The Wave, Muscat claims victory on Cardiff Bay
International 14 World Championships 2015: Not just for boys
Rio de Janeiro achieves 50% treatment of sewage outflow *Feature
2014 AWT Quatro Desert Showdown - Event memorable videos   
2014 18' Skiff Int Regatta: Day 1 at San Francisco - Reversal on beach   
Emirates Team NZ: Last race boost cannot save team from table bottom   
PWA Alacati World Cup - Furious slalom is upon us   
J/111 World Championships - The Winner is Shmokin Joe!   
J/24 US National Championship - Victory for Will Welles’ Cougar   
Extreme Sailing Series: View the Final Day's action - Replay   
NYYC Grandmasters Team Race - Reign continues for Noroton Yacht Club   
WSSR announces new World Record Around Britain and Ireland   
IFDS Worlds 2014 - Final day photos by Tim Wilkes   
2014 Detroit Cup - Morvan wins   
Newport Bucket Regatta 2014 -Images by George Bekris   
IFDS Worlds 2014 - Final report: USA qualifies for Rio 2016   
Extreme Sailing Series: Absent With-Out Leave – Ben Ainslie Racing   
2014 IFDS World Championship - New champions claim medals   
2014 IFDS World Championships - Sunday’s race images by Tim Wilkes   
Shark World Championships underway in Toronto   
Anna Tunnicliffe: Alinghi second o'all - Extreme Sailing Series, Day 3   
Formula Kite World Championships - Nocher and Bridge crowned Champions   
Emirates Team NZ: Frustrating Day 3 in Extreme Sailing Series, Cardiff   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT