Tempting Striped Marlin
Two tips that will increase your chances
by Bert Blackwell
With large numbers of Striped Marlin inshore on our east coast, most game fishers will be putting in some serious effort trying to get attached to one over the next 6 -8 weeks.
Fuel and other costs are enormous. Getting it right once you are in the boat is vital. There are two components that will increase the chances of hooking one of these superb fish. These are the Mirrored Teaser and the Skip Bait.
The Mirrored Teaser
The "Witchdoctor"as they are commonly known, are a flashy, mirrored, painted piece of timber (usually) that is towed behind the boat. These are signed to flash, and attract fish. Perhaps the fish think it is a school of fish flashing on the surface.
The "witchdoctor"should be run between 5 - 10 metres. A heavy wire cable at the teaser end is good insurance against "the bities'. I recently observed a Mako in excess of 10 feet swinging from a teaser attached to the stem of a Norseman 3. It was not too much of a worry when it is attached to a 55"boat, but perhaps a lighter rope should be used on the 15 ft "tinnies'. It could be the ultimate small boat experience!
There is ongoing speculation as to whether mirrored teasers scare Tuna or not. To this point, I have not found any evidence of such, and after using one extensively on all the tuna species over the past five years I wouldn't be at sea without one!
This may not be the case however, in more northern latitudes, where the tuna are more aware of the ever present "razor gangs'.
The Skip Bait
An Albacore, Stripey Mackerel, Mullet or Salmon would be fine with the fish rigged on a 12/0 hook or 10/0 for the smaller baits. There are many effective methods for rigging baits. Keeping the bait fresh and in good condition and changing them after they lose their colour, should add to your success rate.
I believe that the bait should be fished within 10 metres of the teaser, for two reasons; Firstly, the big fish will come in very close to the teaser, and secondly, you see the bait very clearly. Don't take your eyes off it.
The bait should be fished on as light a drag setting as possible. As with all lures, baits will most likely draw one of two reactions from the fish; If you are lucky, the fish will strike out of nowhere, swallow the bait or lure, and head for the Continental shelf like a rocket, hooking itself in the process. That's the easy one we all hope for. But, as is often the case with Striped Marlin, there will be some "following"and "bill whacking"with the bait. If you think the Marlin has belted it hard enough to for the Marlin to think it has stunned it, free spool the reel for about 20-30 metres. If the fish doesn't pick it up, wind it back to the original position.
This may bring the fish back for a second or third go at it. If the Marlin makes any attempt to swallow the bait, free spool and feed the bait to it.
It won't always race off flat strap as you would most likely expect, but can behave more like a finicky big Brown Trout with a frog. Inching off a couple of hundred metres of line over agonising minutes. It can see like eternity. In this situation the boat should be gunned forward and as the strike drag comes on, secure a hook up. If you are fairly serious about a Marlin in the coming weeks, a bait, a teaser, and 2 to 4 marlin lures (depending on the size of your crew), are more than enough. On a hot fish you could find yourself looking at an empty reel very smartly, while still clearing away other rods! At least one lure should be fished within striking distance of the bait and teaser, with the others inside 50 metres. Either way, with the bait and teaser included in the pattern, your chances of something going off when the "looker"arrives are much improved. The only hurdle left to overcome now, which unfortunately I'm not much help with, is the rapid and often extreme rises in blood pressure, adrenaline levels, shaking and compulsive knocking of the knees, that are commonly experienced when encountering one of these magnificent fish.