Getting onto a few black marlin may seem out of reach for the average boatie, but with a bit of knowledge and the right gear, these magnificent sportfish are well within the grasp of trailer boat owners.
These fish are available all up and down the East and West coasts, as well as across the north. Being a highly migratory and fast-growing fish, different classes of blacks are available at different times of the year on different parts of the coast! As an example, from their spawning ground in Far North Queensland, they can be found milling around the northern reefs as small 3-4kg models, but they grow as they migrate south, often hitting around 15-30kg around Hervey Bay (a juvenile black marlin stronghold) and upwards of 50kg once they reach South East Queensland. Eventually, these fish migrate back toward the Far North as they hit breeding size, which can see fish reaching the fabled 1000lb mark.
Juvenile blacks have a habit of venturing into sheltered waters, putting them within easy reach for trailer boat owners, and trolling baits for them is a great way to connect to one of these highly acrobatic stick-faced speedsters!
Trolling dead baits is probably the most effective way to connect to juvenile blacks, and the presentation is far simpler than you might think. Getting good quality dead bait can be challenging, and learning to rig it so that it swims or skips can take a bit of practise. Garfish and wolf herring are popular for this presentation. Split-tail mullet are another great option for dead bait trolling. In more modern times, anglers are choosing to fish with a single circle hook though the nose of the bait to ensure a safe hook-up in the corner of the jaw to allow a quick release boatside. Circle hooks such as Mustad Demon Circle Hooks Heavy, BKK Monster Circle and Gamakatsu Big Bait Circles will do the trick nicely. Trolling dead baits at around 5 knots on medium offshore spin tacke or a light overhead set-up should get bites if there are marlin around.
Live baits are another extremely effective way to draw bites from juvenile black marlin. Of course, getting live baits is part of the procedure, but usually this can be done nearby where you’re fishing, because blacks will hang out around these schools of bait. Slimy mackerel, yakka, cowenyoung and the like will attract marlin to an area. At times, these schools will sit deep, and dropping a live bait back into the school rigged on a circle hook can be the only way to get a hook-up. Reading your sounder and recognising the bait schools and marlin shows is an important skill if you plan to take up this style of fishing. Once you’ve found a school, either drifting or slow trolling is a good way to keep your bait in the zone and in front of hungry marlin.
If your aim is to simply land your first marlin, this is a great way to start! The best part is you don’t need particularly fancy gear, and can be done with your mackerel trolling set-ups very easily.
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