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Alex's Fishing Column 14 May 2020

Good weather early and late in the day helped get the inaugural round of the Penn Top End Billfish Series off to a good start.

Although nominally this three-day event was round three, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the first two rounds were cancelled.

Not many boats fished the first day, Friday, but there were about 20 boats out from Dundee on Saturday.

According to the Billfish Series founder and co-ordinator, Douglas Saunders: “With the glass-out mornings and afternoons, it made travel to and from the grounds a smooth and quick trip for all. “The wind picked up during the day as predicted and blew for a few hours but it was certainly still fishable and didn’t last too long.

“The fishing was a little slow for the majority of the weekend but there were definitely chances to be had.

“There wasn’t a lot of bait around, except for heaps of squid, so the billfish may have been feeding on that.

“Plus the water was a dirty, murky colour, possibly from coral spawn breaking down.

“Also, there were lots of longtail tuna breaking the surface.

“The stats that we received so far read: marlin 16-5-2 and sailfish 8-4-0,” Doug reported.

What those figures mean is that there were 16 marlin raised, 5 hooked and 2 landed; and similarly there were 8 sailfish raised, 4 hooked and 0 landed.

In recent years, there has been a spate of juvenile black marlin out wide from Dundee Beach, and the ones caught over the weekend slotted right into that category. Both fish were caught aboard Team MEG II, skippered by Doug and thus leading the way by example.

The first marlin was caught on a pusher by Doug’s partner, Lisa Taylor, and the second marlin was caught by junior angler Nate Saunders.

“That fish also came up to a pusher but wouldn’t take it, so we fed the garfish back to it and switched it which did the trick,” Doug said.

“It was her first black marlin after watching her kids catch four or five.”

The Penn Top End Barra Series comprises eight rounds through the year, some over three days and some just one-day events.

In the three-day rounds, the best two scoring days will be counted and, across the eight competition rounds, the best six will be counted.

Prizes of up to $8000 are up for grabs for the winning categories at the end of the 2020 series.

There are about 80 anglers and 26 teams registered, and it’s not too late to enter at a cost of $450 for the series or $100 per round.

Points are awarded as follows: sailfish 500 points, marlin up to 2.3m 1000 points and marlin 2.3m and longer 1250 points.

With the only two billfish caught in the round, Meg II was champion team, with Lisa Taylor winning champion angler and Nate Saunders taking out champion junior.

The next round will be held from Dundee again on 19-21 June.


Nate Saunders, dad Douglas and sister Elle with Nate’s winning junior angler black marlin from the inaugural round of the Penn Top End Barra Series.

Lisa Taylor’s juvenile black marlin gave her champion angler status in the first round of the Penn Top End Barra Series.


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