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Alex's Column 01/12/2022

It wasn’t surprising that most boats in Darwin Game Fishing Club’s recent annual NT Billfish Classic fished the Dundee grounds.

However, one of the Territory’s pioneering billfish anglers, Peter Dienhoff, and his fellow Hit N Run team mates, David Brooks and Rodney Faulkner, opted to fish the deep waters off the Tiwi Islands.

Peter explained: “The Classic is a minimum 10kg line class event with points awarded on a sliding scale, depending on line class (10kg, 15kg or 24kg) and

all billfish are photographed, measured, tagged and released.

“Points awarded fishing with 10kg line, for example, are sailfish 750, marlin (1200mm in short length and under) 750 and marlin (over 1200mm short length) 1500 points.

“The measurement scoring system on the marlin was introduced as a lot of the marlin captures off Dundee Beach are juveniles, some only a metre in total length.

“Hopefully the CDU billfish research project involving pop-off satellite tags (PSATs) will give us a better understanding of the migratory path of the billfish in years to come,” Peter said.

On the first day, team Hit N Run began fishing at Mesquite Shoal, due west of Apsley Strait, but the water was a green colour and there was a lack of both bait and birds.

The team set a course for the Bathurst Trench, anticipating a dark blue sea in the deeper water.

The duration of the day saw Hit N Run check out proven grounds on the trench, but luck was not with them.

However, on their way to a calm anchorage, they came across a frenzy of diving birds.

“The next morning saw us with lines in at 7.00am, right in amongst the booby birds, frigates and massive columns of bait,” Pete explained.

“Confidence was fairly high, and at 10.30am Brooksy’s swimming oceanic queenfish was taken and the line cracked off the Dubro clip and was stripping line from the spin reel in free spool.

“This wasn’t Brooksy’s first rodeo, and he gave the billfish enough time to have a good grasp on the swim bait before engaging the bail arm and allowing the 5/0 circle hook to do its job,” Peter said.

The team were hooked up to a solid sailfish which later measured 175cm short length, and was estimated at 20kg prior to being photographed, tagged and released.

Later that day, the team witnessed Matt Barrett catch two black marlin on skirted lures, including one estimated around 150kg.

Matt wasn’t competing in the Billfish Classic because his partner was due to have their first child any day and it was possible he would need to leave fishing straight away and head back to Darwin.

It was late afternoon when Pete called lines in with the baits and the trio deployed skirted lures at 8-9 knots.

“My team on the back deck were discussing the swimming action and bubble trail of the 10” Bomby Catbo lure no more than 10m from the transom when it was engulfed by a frisky black marlin not five minutes after being deployed,” Pete told me.

“Rodney is no newcomer to the game fishing scene and has honed his skills on his own 35 foot Cabo here In Darwin and more recently around Cairns.

“Loaded on a 24kg outfit, Rod had the fish under control in less than an hour and, after the recording of the fish, an estimated 60kg marlin was released in excellent condition.

“It meant our team Hit N Run had hit the lead with 2150 points.

“The tides increased significantly overnight, which we were expecting, and we knew finding clean blue water would be a struggle on the third day.

“We also had the added pressure of knowing that the Dundee grounds were inclined to fish better with the larger tidal movement, and some of the competitors who were fishing at Dundee had already tagged billfish and were certainly a chance of overtaking our score.

“We eventually found some clean water west of the South Gutter but luck was not on our side and we never raised a fish for day three.

“Just to rub in a little salt at the end of the day, it was confirmed by satphone to Billfish Base that, as predicted, a couple more billfish were caught at Dundee with that larger tidal movement,” Peter explained.

In total, there were five marlin and four sailfish caught in this year’s Billfish Classic.


Champion Team – Rockbottom on 3000 points (Ben Maclean, Tom Hamilton and Jordan Conrad

Runner-up to 7.5m – Kurri Tackle on 2250 points (Rodney and Kimmie Mychas)

Runner-up 7.5m and over – Hit N Run on 2150 points (Peter Dienhoff, David Brooks and Rodney Faulkner)

Champion Angler – Kimmie Mychas on 2250 points

Most Meritorious Capture – Rodney Faulkner

Fish Billfish Tagged (Each Day)

Day 1: Alex Bates

Day 2: David Brooks

Day 3: Tom Hamilton

Kimmie Mychas won Champion Angler in the NT Billfish Classic.

Jordan Conrad, Ben Maclean and Tom Hamilton in Team Rockbottom won Champion Team in the NT Billfish Classic


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