With great weather, a red-hot new location and more enthusiasm from teams than you can poke a stick at, it’s no surprise that last week’s NT Billfish Classic was a resounding success. For good reason, one person who was rapt was competition co-ordinator Peter Dienhoff. “We had a cracker,” Peter said. “We steamed up to Mesquite Shoal on the Saturday to have a fish on Sunday before the comp, catching four sails - three being a triple hook-up. “So we thought this spot will do for the first day! “The majority of the fleet joined us for the first day, where we put on another two sails. “Second day we put on another four sails and last day we missed all together. “Total for our boat were six sails for the tournament with Brooksy (David Brooks) taking out Champion Angler and our team Bill Collectors taking out Champion Team. “A total of 10 of the 19 boats all had sails on the first day.” “All of our sails came on circle-hook-rigged skipping garfish; anything swimming was eaten pretty quickly by mackerel,” Peter explained. It’s interesting that Peter used Mustad circle hooks around size 6/0 that were given to him by Trevor Robb who visited Rompin Malaysia recently. Rompin may well be the best sailfish spot in the world, and the boat captains there all use Mustad light-gauge circle hooks. Obviously, they know stuff and it sure helped the Bill Collectors who raised 12 sails, hooked 10 and tagged 10… a phenomenal effort. Peter said: “The macks’ appetite become more ferocious has the tournament went on, with teams losing a lot of gear on day two. “There were lots of sailfish but the mackerel mostly beat them to the bits. “We actually only came home with three garfish left out of 90. “A lot of the teams also came across pods of sails rather than just the lone fish,” Peter said. He estimated that there must have been more than a 100 raised. “They were impressive sailfish too. “Our smallest was 169cm short length, or nudging 20kg, while the biggest caught by Brooksy measured 186cm short length,” Peter explained. That fish and Pete’s biggest at 182cm were estimated at 28-30kg. “We all agreed that the shoal should be changed to ‘Doug’s Shoal’ after his unselfish gesture to share his fish marks from last year,” Peter told me. “The number of boats at the shoal did not worry the billfish fishing in the least; if anything, it increased the numbers of sails in the general area. “Most boats had left the area by the last day when the fishing slowed significantly. “Many years ago – back in the ‘80s, when Dorothee and Graeme Williams managed Barra Base, I remember this shoal being referred to as ‘Buff Shoal’ – named after Wayne ‘Disco Buffalo’ Ross who was Head Guide at Barra Base then. “We fished it on the way to Marie and Moss Shoals in the Tiwi Bluewater Classics,” Pete recounted. “A few boats encountered sails in the Bathurst Trench on the last day, with Team Reidys Lures raising 12, hooking five but unfortunately not tagging any. There was only one marlin caught this year, a good black estimated at 100kg by Tyson Sykes. Team Bills to Pay caught the fish and then lost an estimated 200kg fish just before lines out on day three. A record 22 billfish were caught in this year’s Billfish Classic and the host Darwin Game Fishing Club received praise for running the event so smoothly. Peter said: I believe this is the only IGFA-sanctioned saltwater tournament run out of Darwin these days, so it’s great to see the competitors get behind it.” ********************************** I had a top day fishing Darwin Harbour earlier this week with Flossie and Jim Gentle. At the Bridge Toyota Ladies Day during the Darwin Cup Carnival, Flossie won the Lucky Door Prize of a day's fishing with Yours Truly. Yes, I know, second prize was two day's fishing with old Alex. It was hot out there, but there was plenty of bait and we saw a few fish with Flossie catching her very first barra. All fish were scanned for red tags but none were spotted… unfortunately. PHOTOS: Anthony Verkuylen (left and David “Brooksy” Brooks with a big sailfish from the NT Billfish Classic.
Peter Dienhoff and Brooksy with another ripper sailfish.
Flossie Gentle caught her first-ever barra in Darwin Harbour on Monday.