28 Apr 2007

TBF Continues to Fight Pacific Council’s Approved Longline EFP

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) recently voted to recommend approval of an application for an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) for a single vessel to fish longline gear within 200 miles of the U.S. west coast. The final approval of this EFP lies in the hands of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). “We opposed the permit on the basis that it is foolish to try and develop a new fishery on species that are already overfished or fully exploited,” said TBF President Ellen Peel, “as are bigeye, yellowfin and albacore tuna.”

TBF was successful in persuading the Council’s management team and advisory panel to include a prohibition on the use of the longline gear within 30 miles of any shoreline and in the Southern California Bight where conflicts with anglers and bycatch of striped marlin would be unacceptable.

In addition, TBF’s Dr. Russell Nelson persuaded the groups to recommend a cap on striped marlin hook ups to the full Council. Although commercial industry representatives on the Council initially proposed a cap of 57 striped marlin encounters before the longline “experiment” would be discontinued, a cap of 12 was finally adopted.

Additional caps on encounters with sea turtles and marine mammals were also included in the Council’s final recommendation and only 18/0 circle hooks can be used. The EFP, if approved by the NMFS, would allow for 4 longline trips between next September and December.

TBF is taking its campaign opposing this EFP from the Council level direct to the NMFS. TBF is also calling on members to send letters of opposition as well.

TBF’s letter of opposition will soon be posted under Recent News at www.billfish.org and can be used as a guideline for others writing letters.

Full details on the council’s action are available at:


26 Apr 2007

Tips On Yellowfin Tuna & Lures that work here in Fiji

The Fiji islands are fortunate enough to enjoy Yellowfin tuna fishing pretty much all year round. The tuna migrate North past Fiji to the spawning grounds in the Indian Ocean and then come back through our waters on their return trip South.

They are voracious predators that specialise in balling up baitfish m(see photo bottom right), then smashing into the tightly packed ball from below, often leaping clean into the air, such is the speed of their attack. Yellowfin maintain a higher body temperature than the surrounding ocean giving them the ability to display sustained high speed bursts and dogged determined hard fighting abilities.

They have a relatively high percentage of dark meat as opposed
to white meat which basically means they fight hard and can go on fighting hard for extended periods. Their dorsal and pectoral fins fold into slots on their body making them perfectly streamlined for high speed. Their dorsal & anal finlets are specifically designed for high speed stability and drag reduction. When you hook up to a Yellowfin you know you have a battle on your hands.

Yellowfin fight the way they feed. They smash a lure on the surface, put their head down and barrel off as deep as they can. They never fight on or close to the surface. (If one does, it’s about to be nailed by a shark)

Once you (or they choose to) stop that deep run, the battle of wills commences. The tuna will use all its power to keep its head pointing downwards and you have to get its head pointing upwards. I am sure the modern reel manufacturers had tuna in mind when they first produced a two speed reel with a low gear ration for hauling stubborn fish out of the depths.

We always fish using equipment that complies with the IGFA Rules. When out trolling for marlin or yellowfin using heavy tackle, we use a 9 foot double connected to a 19ft wind on main leader to the snap swivel. The lure is rigged on a 6 – 9 foot terminal leader, depending on the lur
e size. Terminal leaders range from 200lb Ande for tuna bullets to 500lb Moimoi Marlin Ultra Hard for the big marlin lures. Most of the tuna lures are rigged on 130 – 200lb leader. Try to go as light as you can. Yellowfin have excellent eye sight and will shy away from a heavy leader.


1. Halco Laser Pro 190 minnow – Redhead

2. Lurestreet Raptor or Classic Minnow - Redhead


1. Yu-Zuri Bonita – Blue white or green white mackerel stripe with red nose or all red.

2. River2Sea Killer VIB – Any colour in range but redhead works best.


1. Wellsys Bullet Head #4 (Large) – Blue silver / Green gold (Evil).

2. Marlin Magic Kona bullet – Black/Red.


1. Pakula Uzi – Yellow/green/ or Orange.

2. Joe Yee medium bullet– Blue white / Pink yellow

3. Hollowpoint Cabo Killa – Purple (Make sure it’s not running aggressively, just swimming quietly).


1. Wellsys Bullet Head #4 (Large) - Silver/pink.

2. Pakula Uzi – Orange/yellow or Black/red (wasp).

Where we get our Tuna lures :




24 Apr 2007

Tips On Fiji Inshore / Reef Pattern (The ‘I don’t care spread’)

The Fiji Islands enjoy a whole variety of sport fish species from reef dwelling coral trout to oceanic blue marlin. Whilst we usually target particular species aboard our game fishing vessels Bite Me and Offensive Tackle, we sometimes take resort guests out simply to catch dinner and have fun doing so.

Its general fishing (Otherwise known as “I don’t care what I catch just as long as its big and tasty”) so we aim to cover all our bases and catch a variety of different species.

We run 15kg (30lb) Shimano TLD25 outfits on Excalibur roller tip rods with a 9ft double connected to a short leader. All minnows are rigged on a short single strand wire trace. The sample spread below should give you an idea of how we fish the inner lagoons and fringing reefs for anything and everything found there.

Sample “I don’t care” spread from our inshore sport fishing boat ‘Offensive Tackle


1. Halco Sorcerer – Silver (mullet) , Target – Mackerel, Grouper, Red Bass

2. Halco Laser Pro 190 Crazy Deep – Silver (mullet)


1. Lurestreet Raptor – Green / Gold or Red / White, Target – Mackerel, Barracuda, Long Tom


1. Wellsys Micro Bullet – Red black / Pink, Target – Tuna, all Trevally


1. Pakula Uzi – Orange, Target – Tuna, all Trevally

2. Abu Toby Spoon or other metal slug- Silver, Target - Queenfish


1. Halco Laser Pro 160 minnow – Redhead, Target – Mackerel, Tuna, all Trevally

3. Pakula Phantom – Blue Silver / Green Gold (Evil), Target – Sailfish.

3. Halco Roosta Popper – Redhead, Target – Large Great Barracuda & GTs

Species Variety:

Mackerel – Narrow Barred (Spanish) Mackerel, Shark Mackerel, Double lined Mackerel

Tuna Yellowfin Tuna, Skipjack Tuna, Mackerel Tuna (Kawakawa), Bigeye Tuna, Albacore.

Trevally – Giant Trevally, Bluefin Trevally, Bigeye Trevally, Brassy Trevally, Golden Trevally

Barracuda – Great Barracuda, Chevron Barracuda, Bigeye Barracuda

Grouper – Coral Trout, Lyretail Grouper, Peacock Grouper, Rock Cod

Where we get our Inshore lures :



20 Apr 2007

NMFS to Meet with Anglers Regarding Longline Vessels in Closed Zones

The chief fishery officer of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), William Hogarth, will meet with anglers on Sat., April 21, at 9:00 a.m. at the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) building in Dania Beach, Florida.

Mr. Hogarth agreed to meet with anglers interested in discussing the application for the 13 Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs), which would allow pelagic longline vessels to fish in some of the waters of the East Coast closed zone. If approved, the vessels would be allowed to fish in the zone for one year with observers on board for the stated purpose to determine whether their required use of 18/0 (with an offset not exceeding 10 degrees) and 16/0 circle hooks have reduced the bycatch of undersize swordfish and other bycatch, including marlin, sailfish and spearfish. The swordfish caught by these boats will be sold and count towards the U.S. ICCAT quota.

Representatives from The Billfish Foundation (TBF), the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), the IGFA, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) and others plan to attend the meeting.

Join TBF or renew your membership today!

Don't forget you can shop online for your tagging equipment and TBF apparel!

Please visit our website at www.billfish.org.

17 Apr 2007

What Went Pear Shaped # 3

Trolling Lures for Pacific Blue Marlin

12.15pm Kadavu Trench

Trolling a 4kg Skipjack tuna skip bait rigged with a 14/0 Owner Super Mutu Circle hook. The hook was rigged to sit 4 inches ahead of the tuna’s nose and connected with waxed rigging thread. 9 feet of 400lb Ande leader, 19ft of wind on leader to a Melton bent butt & Penn International STW 80.

A nice blue marlin sidles up alongside the bait and engulfs it leaving a large hole in the wake and a big flash of silver flank as she turns. Skipper yells “big marlin” and angler comes charging out of the saloon to drop the bait back and allow the blue to swallow.

After 15 seconds the skipper calls for the drag to be eased up. Road loads up and the fish is hooked. The blue doesn’t jump at all. She peels off line but at a steady pace and sounds out and down to about 100m. One hour and fifteen minutes later we bully her up behind the boat.

A couple of head thrashes and she comes in quietly. Upside down quietly. Now we are all worried. We ease her alongside the boat, pop the Billfish Foundation tag in and find that we can’t see the hook.

She’s gut hooked and the damage is obvious. We cut the leader inside the mouth and start towing her behind the boat. A disposable gaff with the tip stoppered with a cork is used to hold her upright. Sadly she does not recover.

She weighs in at 420lbs and is donated to two local village schools to feed the kids.

What went right ?

We went to the right place.

We used the right technique to raise and hook up a blue on a circle hook.

We used a fairly heavy drag setting to bring the fish to the boat sooner rather than later.

We tried to revive the fish for some considerable time, even though the signs were bad.

What went wrong

The Owner Super Mutu hook is a KIRBED circle hook. The rig used was not one of ours. It must have been left on the boat by a previous angler and in the busy period of bait catching, my deckie grabbed the first ready rig in the box and quickly rigged up a skipjack to get a bait out there fast.

I didn’t check the rig.

In my humble opinion”

Never use a kirbed circle hook for marlin fishing. It will gut hook just as well as a J hook and to make matters worse, you just dropped it back ensuring you gut hook. You will almost certainly kill the marlin.

Check everything twice before you set a line. Even if you are in a hurry. It just might save you from a bad day.

10 Apr 2007

Offield Center for Billfish Studies

PIER initiated a marlin research program in 2000 that has steadily grown in size and scope to the point where the program has officially become known as the Offield Center for Billfish Studies (OCBS) in 2003. OCBS has grown into the largest billfish program in the world, with over 200 satellite popup tags being deployed since the project began. Initial focus was on striped marlin off the coast of Mexico, but recent years have seen the program focus on black marlin and, more recently, blue marlin. Tagging sites include California, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Australia. Scientists involved in past and present OCBS research include Dr. Julian Pepperrell, Dr. Heidi Dewar, Dr. Suzanne Edmands, Dr. Guy Harvey and Mr. John Gunn.

Marlin are one of the most prized saltwater game fishes. Their large size and acrobatic leaps have lead to their acclaim, including starring roles on television and books (e.g. Hemmingway’s The Old Man and the Sea). Marlin are of tremendous importance to local economies that are staging grounds for sport fishing. Marlin are targeted by a few commercial fisheries (most notably striped marlin in Australia and Ecuador) and incidentally killed by swordfish and tuna long-line operations. The habitat preferences, movement patterns and stock structure of the world’s marlin species is not well understood, stressing the need for the research conducted in the OCBS program.


8 Apr 2007

Inshore Fishing Report – March 2007

For the waters around Kadavu Island- Fiji Islands

Charter Operator – Matava Resort Gamefishing

Boat Names – Offensive Tackle (Inshore)

Average Water Temp – 28.5

Average Sea State – Calm / mild chop

Average Winds – 5-10kts

Water Clarity – Excellent

The Narrow Barred (Spanish) Mackerel are tending to be a bit on the small side at the moment with the average fish being around 15lbs. These are mostly schooling juveniles found inside the Great Astrolabe barrier reef.

The big guys are not really biting and staying deep away from the warm surface water. We know they are there as the divers see them often but always deep. We have picked up the occasional one when deepwater jigging. When the water temp starts to cool a little in May/June the mackerel action should pick up.

On the deepwater jigging and bait fishing side, lots of action there. We are bringing up some very nice deepwater snapper (Opakapaka), emperors to 20lbs and some nice amberjack.

The popper casting for Trevally has been reasonably good but most fish caught have been bigeye Trevally or Bluefin Trevally. One Bluefin Trevally caught recently would have smashed the All-Tackle world record but it was caught on a heavy 80lb class outfit whilst looking for the big GTs. (IGFA Records only go to 15kg for bluefin Trevally)

Offshore Fishing Report – March 2007

For the waters around Kadavu Island- Fiji Islands

Charter Operator – Matava Resort Gamefishing

Boat Names – Bite Me (Offshore)

Average Water Temp – 28.5

Average Sea State – Calm / mild chop

Average Winds – 5-10kts

Water Clarity – Excellent

We have had a hot bite from the blue marlin over Feb / March with most of the fish following the schools of skipjack tuna around the Kadavu seamount and up the Kadavu trench. The largest blue caught (was sadly gut hooked by a circle hook) weighed in at a respectable 420lbs with a couple of much bigger fish lost on lures. The average size as been about 200lbs.

Normally the water temp goes up to 29/30 by Jan / Feb and this kills a lot of the action but this year it rose to 28.5 and there it has stubbornly stayed which I think is why the blues are still here in numbers.

This lower than average water temp happed last year as well and it lead to a spectacular sailfish season from May – September. We found packs of sails on every attempt.

The Yellowfin are around with lots of fish in the 20 – 40lb range close in to the barrier reef and some nice cow Yellowfin around 100lbs farther out on the trench.

Mahi mahi are a bit thin on the South side of the island but round the North side there are quite a few juveniles chasing the flying fish a couple of miles offshore.

6 Apr 2007

Hook Corrosion Rates in Salt Water

I was asked one day “what about all those fish that get away and end up swimming around with a hook in their mouths ?”

Well, undesirable as it is, it does happen and aboard our Gamefishing vessels, we always use hooks made from Duratin when using real baits, bait / lure combinations or in a lot of our wahoo and large marlin lures. Duratin, I explained, in contrast to Stainless Steel, corrodes rapidly in seawater so the hook quickly deteriorates and falls out or is ejected by the fish.

It then occurred to me that I had never actually seen a study of just how long it takes to corrode a hook to the point where it is likely to drop out or be expelled by a fish so I conducted an amateur bench test:

I selected a range of hooks we most commonly use aboard our game boats. I included only one Stainless Steel light gauge (Maruto SS1920) as a comparison to the Duratin hooks.

The following hooks were tested:




1. Mustad 7766D (Duratin) –


rigged baits and skirted lures for wahoo

2. Gamakatsu SL12S Saltwater fly big game hooks


Light tackle rigged baits for sailfish

3. Mustad 39960D (Duratin) Tuna Circle hooks


rigged baits for marlin & sailfish

4. Maruto SS1920-2X Stainless Steel


Small to medium skirted lures

5. Gamakatsu Live Bait hooks, High Carbon Steel


Deepwater jigging / Bottom fishing

6. Mustad 7794BD Treble


Small Bibbed Minnows

Each hook was crimped to 100lb monofilament line using a 1.6mm Brass double sleeve and suspended in a container of seawater. Containers were made from cutting the top off plastic drinks bottles, screwing them down to a bench and using the tops to hold the bottoms. The seawater was refreshed daily and the hooks inspected at the same time each day. To test, each hook was removed, held with the shank horizontal, point down and a weight of five pounds was suspended from the bend of the hook near the barb to see if it had weakened sufficiently to bend or break. In the case of the treble, the weight was suspended from only one of the hook bends.


Gamakatsu SL12S – Corrosion started within 1 day

Mustad 7766D – Corrosion started after 2 days

Mustad 7794BD Trebble – Corrosion started after 2 days

Mustad 39960D – Corrosion started after 3 days

Gamakatsu Live Bait – Corrosion started after 4 days

Thereafter up to day 10, apart from some continuing mild surface rust and furring on the Duratin hooks, everything seemed to stabilise and nothing much happened.

On day 10, the Maruto SS1920 Stainless Steel hook finally showed some discolouration and then on day 12, some minor rust spots on the eye and shank.

On day 14, all the hooks were tested with the 5lb weight and all passed with flying colours. There did not appear to be any deterioration in strength in any of the hooks.

After 21 days the hooks were removed, lightly wiped with a cloth, photographed and strength tested.

All hooks showed widespread corrosion except the Gamakatsu Live Bait and the Maruto Stainless Steel hooks which only showed slight corrosion on the hook barb and bend. The Duratin light gage SL12S was the most heavily corroded. A second SL12S that was dipped in salt water each day but suspended in air corroded far more heavily than the one suspended in salt water – presumably because of the increased levels of oxygen in air verses a still container of seawater.

Dispelling My Duratin Myth

The results were a bit of a surprise. The Stainless Steel hooks performed as expected however the Duratin hooks lasted significantly longer that I thought they would. In fact, after 21 days suspended in salt water, despite some surface rust, they were as strong as ever. Even the barbs were still intact.


In reality, a hook in a fish’s mouth would have constant movement of seawater over its surface which would accelerate corrosion however the only way for us to test this would be to suspend the hooks in a live well.

I didn’t want all that rust in my live well !

I had observed that a Duratin hook, used at sea and put away without a wash in fresh water is basically useless within days. This led me to believe that, if left in a fish, the hook would deteriorate rapidly and fall out within days.

I was quite wrong. Duratin hooks survive much longer than you think. We will continue to favour Duratin hooks because they do rust out much faster than Stainless Steel hooks however I stand corrected on their rates of corrosion if lost fish. Its not a matter of days, it’s a matter of weeks.

4 Apr 2007

Tricks Of The Trade - Coke Can Teaser

Though we catch wahoo and sailfish all year round, May through to September is our hot bite season with numerous packs of wahoo and sailfish gathering all along the Great Astrolabe Barrier Reef.

When fishing for sailfish we usually use bait and switch tactics so often run teasers. We also sometimes run teasers when fishing baits or lure/bait combinations for wahoo.

Pacific sailfish are magnificent creatures and probably my all time favourite species to fish for. They feed determinedly and will chase a lure right up to the back of the boat, close enough that you could reach out and grab their bill (Not that I recommend this !).

When a sail lights up and charges a lure or teaser, it’s an extraordinary sight. On hook-up sails almost always take to the air and leap about, tail-walking away from the boat. It’s a sight to remember and if you have not yet seen it, I strongly recommend you experience the awesome and exciting display for yourself.

Coke Can Teaser for Sailfish

We mostly use bait & switch tactics for sails so we start out by trolling one or more teasers. When a pack of sails is raised, the teasers come out and the baits are fed back to the fish.

Teasers come in all shapes and sizes but we have found that the most effective teaser for sailfish is a daisy chain of three or four pink squid with a coke can rigged at the head of the chain. Yes, a coke can. Rig it so the bottom of the can runs first through the water.

Punch a small hole in the top and the bottom of an empty coke can. Remove the snap swivel on the front of the daisy chain. Crimp a stopper to the front end of the mono daisy chain line and slide the can down to the stopper. Re-attach the snap swivel to the front of the daisy chain and you are good to go.

Keep an eye on the mono around the coke can as it can suffer some abrasion from the can hole edges. We sometimes rig the can on a separate piece of mono or wire with a snap swivel at either end. That way we can change it out easily.

The concave shape grips the water and makes a huge ruckus in the prop wash. Cheap and very effective.

Coke Can Teaser for Wahoo

This teaser is exactly the same principal as above but we do away with the daisy chain and just troll two cans rigged close together in the prop wash.

Punch a hole in the top and bottom of each can. Take a two foot length of multi strand wire and crimp a stopper on one end. Slide on the first can. Crimp a second stopper about 6 inches ahead of the first can and slide on the second can. Crimp a snap swivel to the front and your teaser is good to go.

We run this teaser about 20 yards back so that it dives through and under the prop wash. It can usually survive several hits before it needs to be replaced but by then you should have put several nice wahoo on the deck. Works like a charm

We have experimented with several different types of can but the red coke can seems to be best, though I do know a charter boat skipper out of Sydney that swears by a blue and gold Fosters beer can when fishing for blue marlin…….

3 Apr 2007

The Billfish Foundation

We are big supporters of The Billfish Foundation and Tag-&-Release.

See their website for great educational programs and the most up to date and reliable databse of Billfish worldwide see their website:


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