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GREAT BARRIER REEF: BLACK MARLINS, OCT/NOV 2013

As a boy, a trip to Australia was already a dream for me, and especially the barrier reef had always been a magical attraction to me. // There are hardly any European tour operators, that book fishing trips to Australia. The demand is not great due to the grueling journey.

During my research, I encounter Nomad Sportfishing (nomadsportfishing.com.au), the most well-known Australian operator for fishing trips. They are primarily focused on conventional fishing, but one or two trips in the year are designed for fly fishing.

On the internet I then found the web page by Stefan Kreupl, specializing in blue-water fishing: www.bluewaterfishing.eu Stefan has also confirmed to me that the boat Tradition with Captain Tim Richardson(www.traditioncharters.com) is a top choice for offshore fishing on the Barrier Reef.

In the summer of 2013 I book five days on the Tradition out of Cairns to the Barrier Reef / Ribbon Reef to fish for black marlin. This is a new experience for me, because I never spent longer than a day trip on an offshore fishing boat.

Afterwards I continue with Nomad Sportfishing for eight days with the fly on a Nomad expedition boat chasing reef and predator fish on the Barrier Reef from Claremont Isles to Horn Island.

The trip to Australia is of course very time consuming. On the 26.10.2013 I fly from Munich to Singapore and then to Brisbane. After a stopover, I fly to Cairns. I have to fly further north from Cairns with a Cessna to Cooktown, where I once again spend the night. On the 29.10, at the port of Cooktown, awaited Captain Tim Richardson with his crew Justin and Eric and his boat Tradition.

THE BOAT: THE TRADITION

At first glance, you can see that the Tradition is a super equipped boat. Everything is up to date. You realise that Tim himself professionally equips offshore fishing boats. I have a double bed cabin with air conditioning, and there is even excellent Wi-Fi on the open sea via a satellite system.

29.10.2013: SUPER RUN ON THE FIRST DAY OF FISHING

From Cooktown we drive about 25 km to the inner Barrier Reef. With light trolling equipment we catch bait fish: Spanish mackerel and ladyfish. The latter is one of the best bait for marlin. It is clear straight away that bait fishing can be stressful, the reels are going off in a row and we have often 2 or 3 bites at the same time.

Once the bait fish are ticked off, they are prepared as trolling bait and put in the freezer. Young Justin does very well. After a few times watching him, I still have trouble to remember the work process. The preparation of an individual bait fish troll lure takes about ten minutes.

Then it should go off, the rods are laid out. After ten minutes with bait fish on the system, (skipper) I catch my first marlin, a fairly small one. It looks unusually small for Tim, for me it is a super fish. My first marlin, and after 10 minutes!

The wound of the fish comes from territorial marking. The fish is marked in the water by a marking tag with registration number which is stabbed into him. Seems worse than it is, because the marker tags do not go deep into the flesh.

In the evening just before 6.00pm I catch a 400 pound marlin on the outer Ribbon Reef. A great experience! For the first time, I feel the strength and mass of a powerful and heavy fish.

The evenings are adventurous and romantic. There is often no wind, and we anchor just before the inner reef in the shadows of waves together with other boats. Sometimes I have super fishing opportunities from the anchored boat. As soon as the anchor light is in the water the bait fish come and form a bait fish ball, and then immediately the predators emerge – to my delight.

SNORKELING AND HARPOONING

The underwater world of the Barrier Reef is of course fascinating, the coral reefs are still intact. I am also a diver, and so I cannot miss out. We have no diving equipment, but alone the snorkeling is fascinating. The reef is really beautiful, and in contrast with other diving areas, there are big fish swimming everywhere. A special experience is it to snorkel with Justin and harpoon our dinner. We get the best of the best: coral trouts. Taste divine!

It is exciting to hunt coral trouts. As soon as you have harpooned a fish, you have to get him as soon as possible to the surface and out of the water to the boat. The sharks smell blood and are quick to the spot. Usually to land a fish with harpoons takes much strength, because the fish swim almost always into the nearest hole located in a coral stock. The thread off and to get it out of the hole is really not my thing. I mostly leave it for Justin, the air has without end.

If there are too many sharks we have to cancel this task.

30.10 to 2.11.2013 FOUR DAYS OF FISHING ON THE REEF

Marlin fishing is awesome. I land six black marlin in five days, and no day without fish. I also go every day snorkeling and spear fishing. I like this, it is a good change.

My moment of glory is on 1st November again shortly before 6.00pm. I catch a black marlin with 900 pounds! The drill is not long but really strength draining and adventurous. As soon as 300 pounds of leader comes in the near of the rods-top ring, the guides take the leader in the hand and try to bring the fish with the hands to the boat. // The fish comes up and jumps completely out of the water several times. Literally, the water is boiling around the boat. The adrenalin level rises, it's a crazy experience. The goal of the team is to mark the fish, then as quickly as possible to cut off the rig, and to let the fish free to recoup, so the fish is not too tired and has enough strength to submerge. The fish counts as a caught one, the guide takes the rig in the hand.

There are super films of my marlins caught. On the Tradition, everything is professionally organised! When a fish is hooked, three GoPro cameras can be switched on using the GoPro remote control. These are mounted on three different positions on the boat and shoot the drill and all the trappings from three different perspectives.

LAST DAY ON THE TRADITION: THE LUCK DOES NOT END!

In the late afternoon, I catch another 100 pound marlin and then another one with 950 pounds. I am very happy and satisfied. These five days have really paid off.

Right then we drive two hours with full speed back to Port Douglas. I was picked up by a taxi at the harbor and taken to Cairns, an hour's drive away. There I stay overnight night in the Shangri La hotel, in order to begin the next day my onward journey to Musgrave, where I will be met from the Nomad Sportfishing. Before me another eight days of fly fishing on the Barrier Reef approach, and I already look forward enormously to it.

ALL IMAGES OF THIS TRIP