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Dated: 18th August 2007
Location: Australia/Western Australia /Pilbara Region/Karratha-Dampier
From our Karratha-Dampier Fishing Correspondent Luke Groen
Fishing the Annual Dampier 2007 Billfish ShootoutFishing the Annual Dampier 2007 Billfish Shootout
The 2007 annual Billfish Shootout was the quietest one yet. 61 boats competed in the 3 day comp this year held over foundation day weekend in June. The weather was up for the entire comp with gusts over 35knots recorded on the Saturday. The bad weather gave the bigger boats an advantage, but no one wants to be getting bashed around in any boat for 3 days straight especially for very little reward as far as tagging billfish go.

DAY ONE

It was blowing over 20knots as we headed out behind sailfish reef in search of whatever billfish we could hook. The water was green and there were whitecaps as far as the eye could see. We deployed our spread of teasers and baits in hope that we come across a pad of sails. It was about 9.00 when we saw our first sailfish up in the spread. Unfortunately the hook didnít find its mark. We got attacked countless times by Tuna, Mackerel and Longtom for the remainder of the day but in total managed to raise 8 sailfish. To our frustration we only hooked 3 of them and managed to pull hooks after each fish went ballistic on the surface and recorded 0 tags for the day. The wind peaked just after lunchtime blowing an estimated 25-30 knots. Overall many boats suffered the same fate with very little fish tagged.

DAY TWO

As we headed out through the gap in between Kendrew and Rosemary Islands with the sun just peaking through and we were greeted by a 25knot easterly and even greener water then the previous day. We decided to troll around the same area where we saw a few sails the previous day. We were limited to running 3 lines and the fishing becoming more and more difficult as the wind increased, however we continued to persist with hope to tag a billfish. We got attacked again by Tuna, Mackerel and monster Longtom. Later in the arvo we managed to raise a few sails in the spread. We saw 6 sailfish that arvo but manage to pull the hooks on the ones we hooked, we lost one right next to a fellow competitor after some spectacular jumps. We recorded 0 tags again for the day. The rest of the fleet also tagged very few fish.

DAY THREE

It was slightly less windy as we headed for the same ground as the previous days blowing perhaps 20 odd knots. The water was still green and there were no real signs of bait on the sounder. This was the quietest day for us; we managed to see 1 sailfish for the day and didnít get harassed by many Longtoms or Tuna (perhaps a good thing?). We debated if we should join half of the boats fishing the comp on Rosemary Island where they retreated to the beach out of the wind and spray having a few coldies and a hot lunch. We though we might as well stick it out for the arvo session as we were hoping to see a few sailfish before lines out as we did the previous days, of course when we were prepared for the fish to come up, they didnít. Very few fish were tagged again for the day.

Overall the comp was very well organised but the major let down was the weather for the duration of the tournament. The food was good each night and they had lots of door prizes drawn nightly. In total there were 17 billfish tagged, 16 sails and 1 marlin. This is down from 99 fish tagged the year before and over 170 fish the year before that. The winning boat with the most tags was ĎWet Dreamsí with 3 sailfish tags. Iíd like to thank all the committee members for all the hard work organising such an event and all the sponsors for making it happen. Letís hope next year proves to be better with much more fish and much better weather!

...Luke Groen