GAMEFISHING - Fishing for Bills

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There was a massive turnout for the 2011 Luhrs Billfish Shootout at Port Stephens — anglers, boats, and marlin all rolling up for a record-breaking weekend

GAMEFISHING - Fishing for Bills
GAMEFISHING — Fishing for Bills

The annual Luhrs Billfish Shootout at Port Stephens (NSW) was a huge success, with a record number of 80 boats taking part in the two-day gamefishing spectacular in late February.

Luhrs Australasian distributor, BlueWater Power Yachts, provided $10,000 prizemoney for the Champion Tag & Release Team and this year, the $10,000 Isuzu Heaviest Marlin prize jackpotted to $20,000 because no fish reached the minimum 150kg in 2010. It was a sure bet that the heavy tackle would be out and a majority of boats would be heading wide hunting bear.

In the lead-up, the fishing was inconsistent with some boats struggling to find a couple of fish per day. Many areas up and down the shelf had patches of bait with the ever popular "Car Park" probably the most consistent area. However, by the first sked on Saturday morning, things had obviously changed.

Capt Tim Dean, at the helm of Calypso, was off to a flying start releasing two fish within the first hour. Meanwhile, others enjoyed early success including talented Junior Angler, Connor Craven, aboard Capt Bill Billson’s Viking II, and the crew on Born Free skippered by Geoff Leonard.

But by day’s end it was Calypso that had the lead with eight tags including a "grand slam", followed closely behind by Viking II on six.

Only a couple of fish were captured, with one blue marlin making the minimum weight by 9.5 kilos. However, this fish was subsequently disqualified due to the leader being over-length. It was an expensive mistake; this fish would have won the $20,000 Isuzu Heaviest Marlin prize. No doubt there will be much closer attention paid to the rules and lengths by this team in future tournaments.


Day Two was near perfect as the fleet left early and made their way to their Secret Spot Xs.
Within the first two hours, however, many boats were hooked up during the early bite. As the tags were called through, a lot of boats converged to one area, making it difficult to fight a fish.

Team Calypso took advantage of its lead by adding another two tags, while the battle for the minor placings saw a charge from behind. The late finishers included Greg Plunkett’s Lone Wolf, who had a fantastic day releasing six, and Craig Frith’s Frito 1 making a comeback releasing seven. Born Free, in third place on the first day, managed a double header on 15kg and released both successfully to keep up with the field.

With the Isuzu Heaviest Marlin $20,000 purse still up for grabs after lunch on Sunday, it soon became apparent that many boats were chasing the money. In the end, it was lucky angler Mark Foy fishing aboard Seaka — skippered by Geoff Thompson — who won with a 157kg blue marlin. In this tournament there is only one capture prize for one fish, and it must be over 150kg.

By days end, the ever consistent and skilful Capt Tim Dean had clinched a well-deserved victory for his crew aboard Calypso, winning champion boat T&R with 10 fish and taking home the $10,000 from Luhrs-BlueWater Power Yachts. Tag & Release prizes were paid back to 10th place with Frito I (8 tags), Viking II (7 tags), Born Free, Lone Wolf, Gunrunner, Chianti, No Moor, and Gametime sharing a combination of cash and prizes from Club Marine, Zacatak Lures, Costa & Flying Fisherman Sunglasses, Mavericks on the Bay, and Eastern Creek Raceway.

Connor Craven is the 2011 Champion Junior Male Angler, with the talented and consistent Kiera McMahon the Champion Junior Female, fishing with Capt Jason Lee on Gunrunner. The Peter Goadby Encouragement Award went to Game Plan, a well-presented trailerboat that was towed down from Mooloolaba, Qld, for the weekend.

With entries limited because of space at the Bay and so many boats missing out this year (more than 40), organisers are expecting another record crowd for next year’s instalment of the Luhrs Billfish Shootout, set down for February 18 and 19, 2012.

For further information, phone (02) 4981 0021 or log on

2011 Luhrs Billfish Shootout results

Frito 1

Viking II

Born Free

Lone Wolf

No Moor




Photos: A happy Mark Foy with his $20,000 Isuzu Heaviest Marlin catch onboard Seaka; 2011 Luhrs Billfish Shootout Champion Team T&R Calypso. (L-R) Capt Tim Dean, Luhrs’ Tony Poole, Barry Fogg, Gary Ward (seated), Jye Clayden, and Judd Westling; Another top day at the office for team Calypso; Starting at under $290,000 with twin shaftdrive diesels and an alloy tower with dual controls, the new Luhrs 30 Open is proving popular with sportsfishermen around the world


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