Catching Marlin On the Fly… On the Flats…

What better way to chase the legendary Black Marlin than on the flats of the worlds largest sand island… On a Fly Rod…

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what dreams are made of.

It’s that time of year when I hit the road to Fraser Island. Located on the east coast of Australia, that’s where the magic happens.
Here you can get your shot at juvenile black marlin on the fly, in less than 3 meters of water, on the flats of Fraser Island.

When the seasons roll around there are so many variables that can hinder or enhance the fishing. Weather, water temperature lunar cycles are all very important. When all of these things come together, you may see well over 5 to 10 marlin hooked in one day.

These fish hit hard and run even faster, with acrobatic jumps and line burning runs, they will take you into your backing within seconds leaving your hart pumping adrenaline. Once you have hooked one and the fish is boat side they light up full of colors.

They truly give you a show that you will never forget and an image the will stay with you forever. It’s that feeling that keeps me coming back year after year. I was lucky enough to get really acquainted with this special place by a good friend of mine CPT Brett. He’s a bearded, cigaret smoking marlin whisperer.

I tend to get up at 5am and head to the ramp. With my coffee in hand, little to no sleep and running on the excitement of chasing marlin. I start the 40 mile run to the marlin grounds and will normally stop to cast at a tuna or two and get my fix before pushing up to the grounds where all the fun begins. The rod of choice will have to be my 10wts for these fish, it’s an amazing fight and I think anything more is overkill. I run three 10wts rigged with a range of files just in case I need a back up after a bust off or want to change the fly pattern without re-rigging. It pays to be one step ahead when it comes to fly patterns because they can change every day.

I always have a large range of tube flies; from pink and white to black and purple, green and blues, all resembling small bait fish. I bring bright files for when the fish are playing hardball. Sometimes the more flash the better the fish respond. This will trigger these fish to turn on and take the fly. It’s amazing how one fish can take over your life so easily. Chasing marlin on the flats is something most of us anglers dream of and for some its a dream come true if your willing to go all in.

Having the right teaser is a must for raising these fish to the surface. I like to run a string of four squids following one hookless pusher lure. Then on the second, a single squid skirt with a garfish bridal rigged to swivel. This should fire the fish up when you pull the garfish out of the marlin’s mouth and back to the boat. It drives them crazy! Black Marlin light up with color when they are turned on. When they are visibly lit up it presents the perfect time to make a cast.

Trying to put this all together is a team effort. One person needs to quickly bring in the teasers, creating the opportunity for the angler to get a good shot at the fish. Then the pressure shifts to the angler to set the hook! I find the best way to set the hook is the strip strike method. Keeping constant pressure on the line will help keep the fish hooked. Marlin tend to put on an exciting show during the fight.

These juvenile fish need to be released as soon as possible because hooking them causes stress and they quickly exhaust themselves during the fight. A good way to ensure the fish keep their health is to keep them in the water while you remove the hooks. Lifting the fish into the boat or out of the water can damage them so be very mindfull of how you manage these amazing fish when releasing them!

Team Work
To make the hook and release successful, you need a great team. To catch billfish on fly fishing tackle you need someone to man the teaser and someone to drive the boat. Then the rest is up to the angler. The angler needs to work with the man running the teaser to get the eat. When the fish is belting the teaser and you cast your fly across the back of the teaser, this creates the switch. as the teaser is pulled back to the boat, you have your best shots at getting the hook up. There are a few small things that make this easier for everyone involved. We always have a team meeting before we hit the water each morning, just to make sure our game plan is 100%. Communication is key to having successful fishing trips.


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