World-class fishing a fledgling new tourist attraction
The recently recognised world-class marlin fishing ground off the continental shelf from Hervey Bay could become a mecca for game fishers from around the globe, according to an industry specialist.
Barry Alty, the Gold Coast-based owner of game fishing charter boat Mistress, said the fishing ground off Fraser Island was one of the most prolific in the world.
He said last year they recorded an average catch rate of more than two marlin a day, a feat which could not be achieved anywhere else in the world over such a prolonged period.
“It could be one of the best and biggest blue marlin fisheries in the world,” Mr Alty predicted.
He said it had long been known there were good numbers of juvenile black marlin, up to a year old, near Fraser Island but because of boat sizes and distances, there had only been a modest fishing effort on the edge of the continental shelf.
“The more we learn about the grounds, the more we’ll catch,” Mr Alty said.
He said because of the variety of marlin in the region, another lure for anglers was the chance of a “slam” – catching three different species in one day.
Already game fishers had travelled from as far as America and New Zealand to tag and release marlin on the Fraser Coast and Mr Alty said it was a tremendous tourism opportunity for Hervey Bay.
“Game fishermen travel the world to fish in the best or different locations,” he said.
“It’s a very expensive pursuit and attracts high-net-worth individuals.”
Mr Alty said anglers spent between $2500 and $3500 a day to charter a game fishing boat and it would be for a minimum of three days on the Fraser Coast due to the distance to the fishing ground which was about 120km from Urangan and 40km east of Fraser Island.
He said many fishers also brought their partners who stayed in local accommodation and visited tourism attractions in the region.
“Regardless of where people come from they will normally stay longer than the period they are chartering for, particularly if from overseas,” Mr Alty said.
“Hervey Bay has the added tourist attractions of a Fraser Island visit and whale watching which may keep visiting anglers around for a while.”
Last year, the biggest blue marlin caught from Mistress weighed an estimated 700lb, or almost 320kg, he said.
Mr Alty said Hervey Bay had similar potential as Kona in Hawaii where the development of the marlin fishery led to an explosion in the number of hotels, restaurants, apartments and charter fishing boats.
“I believe that Hervey Bay could establish a major tourist industry from game fishing and bring considerable income to the area,” he said.
Mr Alty said there was also a possibility of the Fraser Coast establishing a giant black marlin season.
He said some black marlin as small as 2kg had been caught which was significant because it meant they were probably only two to three months old, so it was likely there was a spawning ground near Fraser Island.
“It may well lead to another giant black marlin season outside the traditional September to November Cairns breeding period,” Mr Alty said. “There are plenty of fish for everyone and I expect that as we fish the area more we will all learn more and enjoy an even greater level of success.”
Last week, the Hervey Bay Game Fishing Club hosted the biggest game fishing competition in Queensland from November 15 to 18.
HBGFC president Brad Rocke said 41 boats and 155 anglers competed in the 20th annual Game Fishing Classic tagging 51 marlin.
He said the tournament attracted boats from as far away as southern New South Wales, Cairns charter companies and anglers from New Zealand and Western Australia.
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