Can you imagine the result if a billfish tournament had been held down at Dundee at some time in the last couple of months? I stand to be corrected, but I think the most number of billfish ever caught in a Darwin billfish tournament was 22 over three days, and that was last November in the Billfish Classic. I reckon there would have been at least 10 times that amount tagged and released if a tournament had been held in June or July. I wrote recently about the phenomenon that has been taking place wide of Dundee, but a recent flick back through the catches reported in dozens of posts on the Facebook page Darwin Billfish Reports is simply mind-boggling. A good snapshot is from the long weekend of 28 to 30 July. As I explained recently, with billfishing, there is a numerical code boats use to quickly describe the action experienced on the day. Three tallies are numbered: fish raised, fish hooked and fish captured and released. So, if a boat raises 10 sails, hooks five and lands three, the tally would be scribed as 10-5-3. Here are some of the boat tallies just from that long weekend: 8-4-2, 4-1-1, 3-2-0, 5-1-0, 3-2-0, 5-1-1, 2-2-0, 2-1-1, 5-4-2, 5-3-3, 6-3-1, 1-1-0, 2-2-1, 7-1-0, 3-2-1, 13-7-5, 3-2-2, 5-5-3, 5-1-1, 3-2-2, 5-5-1. You can do the sums on fish raised and fish landed but the above represents 95 billfish actually raised, comprising about 90 per cent sailfish and 10 per cent black marlin. Conversions to hook-ups were quite low and actual captures were much lower again, but that’s probably symptomatic of all the learning that is taking place, with many budding billfish anglers doing it for the first time. There’s been some comment that the amazing billfish bite at Dundee is starting to slow down, but that may not be the case, and another couple of weeks will tell. Even if it is winding down in the Dundee area, the annual Darwin Billfish Classic in November is likely to be a ripper given how many billfish have visited our waters this year. Maybe all these fish will still be around somewhere. The last two Billfish Classics saw all the action off Bathurst Island, north of the Bathurst Trench. Could it be that the vast numbers off Dundee will have moved to that area? One thing that is fair to expect is that there will be a lot more boats fishing the tournament this year, if only because there are a lot more anglers recently acquainted with the joys and skills associated with billfishing. PHOTOS: Rhys Koenig’s sailfish was one of a 3-2-2 Dundee day at the end of July.
Daniel Harris fished with Stewie Martin and Rhys Koenig for his Dundee sailfish.
Daniel James fished with brother Jarrod for his terrific Dundee sailfish.
Jarrod James with a beaut little black marlin from the phenomenal run of billfish wide of Dundee.
This is what fishing for sails is all about: the spectacle of a magnificent billfish dancing across the top of the water.