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Ken Brown, or ‘Brownie’ as he is known in boating and fishing circles in Queensland, has recently returned to running marlin fishing boats after 15 years away from the game.

His boat, Megumi, is a custom built 44 foot Assegai built in Brisbane and launched in 2006. After a refit, he was ready to go. The target species were blue marlin on the continental shelf east of Moreton Island and small black marlin and sailfish closer inshore. Brownie was hooked back in 1986,when all the marlin fishing off S.E. Queensland was done on the inshore light tackle grounds. Taken to the continental shelf by Bill Edwards, one of the pioneers of game fishing in Queensland, they saw six blue marlin. The next day, he wheeled his then little Cresta past the inshore light tackle grounds, headed the 20 miles out to the edge and began a love affair with chasing blue marlin that continues today.

Along with Bill Edwards, Geoff Ferguson, Bob Jones and Ross McCubbin, Brownie opened up the blue marlin fishery off southern Queensland. The fishing was amazing and a whole new way of catching marlin using lures was discovered (until then, all marlin fishing was done with baits). The method employed is still used by Brownie today:  that is to run out until the water looks good, put the lures in and cover the ground. He believes that too much emphasis is placed on GPS marks by today’s blue marlin skippers. “What’s the point in going to a mark where someone caught a fish the day before? The body of water that fish was in is more than likely 60 to 90 miles further south given that the east coast current runs between 2.5 and 4 knots. It’s good to fish around the canyons and ravines and fish will often be encountered in those areas, but 90% of our shots came over the featureless flat areas about 3 miles inshore from the edge.”

The lures he uses today are the same as his crewman back in the ’80s and ’90s — Brad ‘Tappett’ Bobbermein-built, medium-sized hypalon heads and standard skirt. In fact, some are the original lures!  “I like the hypalon heads because, not only do they work well at a variety of speeds, they get squashed when the fish bite down on them, thereby driving the hooks in deeper. They also weigh next to nothing and don’t act as a counterweight when the fish are jumping or thrashing their head around on the surface, which greatly reduces the chance of the hooks being thrown.”

It’s perhaps the reason Brownie has such a high conversion rate of shots to fish caught. However, he believes that is only half the story. “Good strong and very sharp hooks are a must. Marlin have bony mouths and you need to get the hook to punch into the bone and stay there. I don’t like sharp points because they can bend on that bone, so we sharpen our hooks to a chisel point.”

Nor does Brownie like stainless hooks. “They are OK because they don’t rust, but they are simply not strong enough for what we do. So the choice has been — hooks that are strong but rust, or hooks that don’t rust but aren’t strong.”

The solution to that problem came when Brownie tried some Mustad 7691Z hooks, with the Z-Steel finish. He was very impressed. “Those 7691Zs are the go. They are hardened steel, are very easy to sharpen the way we like them and, because of the Z-Steel finish, don’t rust. I won’t use anything else after trying them. The one problem we have with them is that they go in deep and stay there, and that my crewman Matty Sander has trouble getting them back without risking injury by sticking his hand in an angry blue marlin’s mouth.”

If you think that’s hype, you don’t know Brownie. He’s been around a long time and is not influenced by fishing theories and marketing claims and believes in keeping his operation simple. However, it’s hard to dispute what he says, as since using the 7691Zs, his conversion rate has gotten even better.

In four days during March 2010, he had 16 blue marlin shots, hooked 14 of them and caught 11. Those figures are exceptional when you consider that, of the 14 hooked, one spat the hooks on the strike, another was hooked over the bill and was lost on the leader and one was lost due to the splice failing on a wind-on leader on a line that had caught 4 fish in one morning. ”We shouldn’t have lost that one where the wind-on pulled out. It drove home the importance of having your tackle right. We were so busy that morning that we bunged that line back out there after 4 hard fights with fish and didn’t check it, so we gave ourselves an uppercut and vowed not to do that again.”

All the lures on Megumi are now rigged with 7691Zs in sizes 10/0 and 11/0.

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