Last weekend was a day to remember for a whole bunch of anglers who were part of the billfish action off Dundee Beach. The number of billfish – sailfish in particular – sighted by the dozen or so boats working the area was the stuff of dreams. In fact, it was right up there with the best sailfish action that you get off Broome WA, and that’s world class. I’ve referred before to that excellent Facebook page Darwin Billfish Reports where anglers not only report their catches but also give details of the spots and even post photos of their GPS charts. Here are a few quotes from posts from the weekend: Barney Rae: “35-19-10 on Saturday SW of the Nose. Pretty epic seeing pods of sails on the surface rounding up bait.” The numbers refer to 35 sailfish raised, 19 hooked and 10 landed… and yep, that’s pretty epic. Mat Barrett: “10-14-11 sails and 2-2-2 blacks today SW of the Nose… lost count of the free swimmers and free jumpers.” Shane Compain: “Fished Barn’s sweet spot… went 9-5-3 sails on Sunday and 19-9-7 sails and 5-1-1 marlin on Monday. Would have seen 50-plus free jumpers.” Doug Saunders: “20+-17-13 sails and 1-1-0 blacks.” David Brooks: “Trolled from north of nose to SW… no birds through usual spots… spotted frigates and a 30 kg-plus marlin smashed a 10 inch Catbo Brombie on 24kg but threw it. “Sails everywhere – got four with the biggest measured short length of 193cm. “I couldn't count the billies raised; they were everywhere… just us and flippin’ bills. Hope you all enjoyed the boat show.” I had a chat with Doug Saunders after the weekend. Doug is recognised as one of Darwin’s most experienced billfish anglers, with lots of runs on the board on the billfish tournament scene. I asked him why he thought the action has been so full on. “I think it’s the change of the season… the amount of flying fish and bait about is incredible,” Doug said. “There are heaps of northern pilchards balling up; I’ve been seeing them in large schools for the last 10 years but I reckon always a bit wider. “All of the fish are bigger than they have been too; we got one that was a fraction under 2m short length, so it was about 35kg. ‘The dads had a great Father’s Day on Sunday, including our boat – we tagged 10 of the 13 we landed,” Doug reported. Doug likes to troll a couple of pushers between his garfish baits. “I like the Catbo soft head lures because the sails won’t be put off when they hit them and that gives me time to switch bait them with a rigged garfish. “We saw sails herding the bait balls, and at least 30 free jumpers. “We drove up to one free jumper and it was jumping around four other sails which were herding bait. We pulled two out of it. “On Sunday, there were 10 boats working the area and they were all raising fish. “We’re fishing wider than we have been before – 35-45km out – and that’s why the water is still clear on the spring tides,” Doug explained. “There appears to be a current sweeping down from the Tiwis to the Perons. “I personally like a fair bit of movement as the bait moves a bit more.” Doug said the Dundee ramp was heavily silted and the larger trailer boats need at least 3m of water to launch. ……………………………………………………………… I had several sad reports from anglers driving to 4 Mile Hole in Kakadu. The road in is almost always an issue as it gets so badly corrugated so quickly. Lately, cars have been turning around and driving back out, some minus a spotlight or two, and devoid of mudguards. The good news is that Kakadu management is addressing the issue. Park Manager, Russell Gueho, told me that grading the Four Mile road has been identified as a priority in recent planning but the park grader is currently undergoing some repairs. He said that this area would be targeted in the next few weeks.
Mick Carey and Nate Saunders with two Dundee sailfish from a triple hook-up over the weekend.
Barney Rae (left) and Tom Bix with a 30kg black marlin that was mixed in with the sailfish.
Mick Carey gets a helpful arm from Doug Saunders after catching this outstanding Dundee sailfish.