The 2017 Bluewater Tackle World Marlin Cup

 
Run from Rottnest Island over the weekend of February 11 and 12, the 2017 Marlin Cup saw a very strong fleet of 25 boats and over 80 anglers take to the waters off Rottnest Island for the annual billfish tournament.
Expectations of raising billfish over the weekend were high, with four fish being raised and one tagged over the previous weekend.  Water temperatures looked to be good with a decent warm current pushing down toward the trench.  However there was trepidation about the weather; the days leading into the weekend saw a deterioration of the weather with strong wind warnings each day
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Saturday woke to slightly easing winds but still a forecast of heavy seas.  Not surprisingly the majority of the trailer boats decided to sit out the fishing on Saturday; it was going to be a big boat weekend.  Those who made the sail past in Thomson Bay were greeted with choppy seas and grey skies.  After the shotgun start, the fleet settled in to the run out to the trench with the wind behind them.
 
Unfortunately the warm water had retreated north and temperatures had dropped into the 20 degree range.  Nonetheless, Buddha managed to raise an aggressive striped marlin that attacked several lures and teasers before finally grabbing one and running.  The excitement was short lived as the fish dropped the lure and was gone after only a short run.
 
Teams who were fishing in closer to Rottnest were able to locate a few schools of southern bluefin tuna.  Nothing else was reported until late in the day, when, with less than hour before lines out, came the scratchy radio call that Simrad was hooked up.  Battling substantial seas in their 680 Haines Patriot, the team were able to fight and finally bring the fish in for tagging a few minutes after the lines out call at 4:00pm.  A tough 2 hour run back into Rottnest was then required to get their tag card in before the weigh-in closed.
 
Unfortunately the wind did not ease overnight and similar conditions were forecast for Sunday.  More boats decided that the conditions were not worth braving given the lack of fish, although a number of the larger boats ventured out.  Once again Buddha managed to raise and briefly hook a striped marlin but couldn’t make it stick.  No other billfish action was reported for the day.
 
Sunday afternoon saw some drama unfolding on the water with a member of the Freeman crew being knocked over and injured by a wave.  With assistance from Time Out and Azura, the Water Police and Fremantle Sea Rescue managed to locate the vessel and place a medic on board.  Conditions ruled out a helicopter evacuation so it was decided to make the trip back to Rottnest where the patient was then transferred to hospital.  Although suffering concussion, he has no serious injuries and is recovering at home.
 
Overall a somewhat disappointing weekend, although the billfish are still around.  Luke Ryan and the Simrad team ventured out on Monday in much better conditions and tagged another blue marlin, while a third fish was hooked on Tuesday afternoon near the FAD’s and eventually tagged off Ocean Reef.