Report: 2016 Garmin / Sylvania Marina Billfish Shootout

Port Stephens hosted one of the most prestigious and best fishing tournaments in Australia in the 2016 Garmin / Sylvania Marina Billfish Shootout.

Report: 2016 Garmin / Sylvania Marina Billfish Shootout
Nearly 600 fishing boats contested the 2016 Garmin / Sylvania Marina Billfish Shootout in Port Stephens.

Frantic fishing the length of the NSW coast drew anglers from far afield with hopes of getting amongst the champagne action in the lead-up to the 2016 Garmin / Sylvania Marina Billfish Shootout. But for nearly 600 contestants in the two-day event out of Port Stephens in mid-February the results were a little flat — seems someone forgot to book the marlin.

Promising conditions and bumper fish stocks drew a record-breaking 128 fishing boats to the event and while predictions of strong winds didn’t eventuate, a strong current produced standing waves and sloppy seas in many locations.

Sponsors Garmin and Sylvania Marina each fronted with two fishing boats but remained with the majority of competitors who didn’t turn a reel in anger. Tag-and-release and capture boats alike recorded encounters way down on the previous year, with a total of 102 billfish tagged and only two brought to the weigh station.

As usual at this time of year the majority of those tagged were small black marlin caught in shallow waters between Port Stephens and Seal Rocks. At the close of fishing on Sunday, the T&R points included 91 black marlin, seven blues, four striped and a single sailfish.

Scott Thorrington’s Blackwatch 35 Freedom from Central Coast Game Fishing Club ran away with the tagging section with nine fish on 10kg line for 111,500 points. The crew were continually on the radio with their releases, finding hot action close to the coast on Sunday by slow trolling livies and taking home $12,500 in prize money for their efforts.

In second place was trailer boat Adrenaline, junior angler Kieran Morley landing six marlin on 15kg for 69,000 points. The team also secured $5000 for the highest score in an under-8m boat. The club is big on promoting fishing in the junior ranks, and angler Cassie Herbert joined Kieran in scoring a handsome prize for her efforts.

Heaviest marlin was a 165kg blue on 37kg for Queensland boat Gusher, which landed a $12,500 cheque.

There was also $12,500 on offer for the heaviest shark. Only two were weighed – Victory 2 from Lake Macquarie brought in a 433kg monster Tiger on 60kg line late on Sunday afternoon.

With the Interclub held over the following weekends, many boats stay in Port Stephens for almost a month, contributing to the local economy and creating a carnival of fishing that’s amongst the most prestigious and lucrative on the calendar.


Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.