Dampier Billfish Shoot-Out 2005

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Dated: 14th July 2005
Location: Australia/Western Australia /Pilbara Region/Karratha-Dampier
From our Karratha-Dampier Fishing Correspondent Luke Groen
Dampier Billfish Shoot-Out 2005Dampier Billfish Shoot-Out 2005
The annual Dampier Billfish shoot out was scheduled for June 4th, 5th and 6th of 2005. The competition lasts for 3 days and again it was a huge success.

There were over 150 anglers and 49 boats entered into the tournament. The competition is run under IGFA rules, there were also a few club rules to make the competition fairer, you are only allowed to use 10KG IGFA rated line and single hook rigs.

We were also restricted to 100NM from the Hampton Harbour boat and sailing club in Dampier. There was over $20,000 worth of prizes to be won and the competition was fierce, it was turning out to be a great 3 days!

Day 1
There was barely a breath when we launched our boat, before heading out to the grounds we always collect some live bait-you never know what will happen. We got out to our favourite spot just after the lines in time (5.30am) however most boats including us set the lines up at about 6.00 due to the lack of light. Within the first 15 minutes we were hooked up to an acrobatic Sailfish. Unfortunately well into the fight the hook managed to pull out while the fish was bill shaking. We quickly set up while a plethora of boats around us were also hooked to the mighty sailfish. Throughout the day a steady amount of tags were being called in by a number of boats. We steadily pulled in sailfish for the day including a double header which decided to go opposite ways. To make matters more interesting the were surrounded by a number of boats. After an hour of mayhem both fish were tagged and released in a healthy state. We ended up calling in 6 Sailfish tags and loosing many more by the lines out time at 6.00 PM. Tag cards have to in before 8.00PM to be eligible. Later on that night at dinner (The club runs a mini presentation night with dinner) we found out we were sitting in 3rd place with 2 other boats tagging 7 Sailfish in front of us. 80+ Sailfish were tagged during the day with numerous boats tagging more then 1. The were also a huge amount of Spanish Mackerel caught by many boats in the fleet.

Day 2
We did the same process in the morning getting live bait and heading out to the grounds and dropping the baits in at 6.00AM. To our surprise the weather was again glorious. As soon as we got out there we had fish coming up from everywhere on our baits but for some reason we couldn’t stick the hooks in any! To frustrate us further all the boats around us were hooked up! Finally after about an hour or so we finally kept the hooks in a Sailfish long enough to tag one. The radio was running red-hot for the next hour or so before the Sailfish went off the bite. With our first Sailfish under our belt for the morning we were hoping our luck had change for the rest of the day. Our luck didn’t change and we continued to have many things go wrong. We were getting the fish up but they didn’t seem to really attack the baits like the previous day. However we did have 2 cases in a row where we’d come across a school of fish and all four rods would go off. We were quick to grab the rods and drop the reels into free spool but by that time we did that they would of dropped the baits. At first we thought they could have been the Mackerel that have annoyed many boats but when we pulled in the baits in they were still intacked, Definitely not! We thought they could of been Tuna but there was no schools evident in the area we were in and no bait was showing up on our sounder. We tagged no more fish for the remainder of the day unfortunately and lost the lead we had over the rest of the field by lines out time at 6.00PM. There was a total of 60+ Sailfish tagged for the day and 1 small Black Marlin.

Day 3
This was the day that would decide everyone’s fate. We were out at the grounds again by 6.00AM. Unfortunately the fish were now apparent of the boats in the area. With the fish spooked it was hard for many boats to get fish for the day. We decided to head out wide to search for a school of Sailfish that has not been harassed. We trolled out very wide and were almost halfway to the Oil Rig “Stag” until we found the first school of bait. Instantly once our baits passed the school of bait the ratchet started to bellow from my Tiagra. I clicked it into gear and hoped for a solid hook-up with a Sailfish. Unfortunately this was not the case and after about 3 minutes we had our first Spanish Mackerel onboard. It was only a tiddler of about 10kg but still a Mackerel none the less. We dropped the gear back out and headed for the bait school again with hope that something with a bill would have a look at our baits this time around. Not long after there was a Sailfish tagged in where a majority of boats were fishing. This only made us more determined to catch another one of these magnificent creatures. The weather was turning and a squall was coming but we still hung out wide hoping to get a Sailfish on the bait school. Again we passed the bait, everyone’s eyes were focused on the skipping Garfish and the medium sized pusher at the back. As soon as the ball of bait cleared the sounder a Mackerel of about 12kg projected itself out of the water and hammered the skirted lure out the back. Luckily when Mackerel are so small they have very little stamina and was brought boat side for release within 5 minutes. Now the wind was really picking up and we decided to head in to shallower water before it got too windy. After about 1 hour of rocking and rolling we finally got to our original fishing grounds. We proceeded to fish that area for the remainder of the day but unfortunately couldn’t get another hook-up, we raised a few but they were just looking. By 2PM at the end of the tournament 21 fish were tagged one of them was a Marlin. By this time the rain had also set in and the wind was blowing about 20 knots. We finished with a disappointing 2 Mackerel, fortunately many boats had the same luck as us. The presentation was later on that night and all the anglers got to tell their stories for the day with one another. They announced the winners and drew the door prizes.
  • The Champion Boat went to 'Catch-it' with 15 Sailfish and 7500 points.
  • Champion individual was Jason Hornhardt with 6 Sailfish and 3000 points.
  • Champion Junior went to Jarred Sopp with 2 Sailfish and 1000 points. Jarrod also won the major prize, which was a dingy sponsored by Mercury Marine.
  • We ended up 8th due to count backs. We ended up with 7-tagged Sailfish. My Dad got 8th for Champion after angler tagging 4 Sailfish. It was a really well organised competition with a huge amount of prizes that were won.

    Personally I’d like to thank all the sponsors, club members and everyone who participated in the event....Luke Groen