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  • Jason Legg

Giant Black Marlin and Brute GT's

There is no doubt that the Cairns black marlin fishery is world class. Founded in the 50’s, Cairns confirmed its first Grander black marlin in 1966. This fish of a lifetime weighed an astounding 1064lbs and was caught by Richard Obach on board the Sea Baby, skippered by George Bransford.

Since that day Cairns has led the world in large black marlin captures. At present (some 60 years later), Cairns produces more black marlin over 1000lbs in our short 3 month season then the rest of the world does in a whole year.

Giant Black Marlin Onboard Levante - (Photo by Ross Finlayson)

Each year these incredible giants migrate to the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of North Queensland (between Lizard Island and Townsville) around September, commonly disappearing around December. Techniques used to catch these fish are quite unique. Large mackerel & tuna, (around 10-20lbs) are slow trolled dead across the surface while smaller queen fish and mackerel are usually weighted with lead to mimic a swimming live fish.

Most game fishing boats range from 40 to 60 foot and are capable of 4 to 7 day liveaboard trips. Liveaboard is the best way to really experience the finest black marlin fishing that the Great Barrier Reef has to offer. October through to December is a great time of the year to experience some of the best sports fishing the Great Barrier Reef has to offer, as a lot of species are spawning, feeding and migrating through the northern waters of the ribbon reefs (between Lizard Island and Cairns). Commonly encountered species include giant trevally, yellowfin tuna, dogtooth tuna, wahoo and of course, black marlin.



GT’s (Giant trevally) are fast becoming an extremely popular sportfish world-wide, with the Great Barrier Reef claiming a lot of fame with the pioneering of Nomad Sportfishing (owned and operated by Damon Olsen). Nomad has without a doubt taken topwater sportfishing for these brutes to the next level. GT’s can be found here all year round but are usually fished as a morning passtime before searching for blacks during the marlin season. There is nothing more satisfying than casting for large GT’s, minutes after finishing your breakfast.

Sports fishing for GT’s has been around for quite some time with the old films starring Malcome Flowracne catching GT’s on poppers in the early 80’s using 30lb mono on a 7 foot rod. Casting for GT’s gained momentum in the early 2000’s with major tackle manufacturers stepping up their game and producing stronger reels that could stand up to the stress.  In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s a 100lb (45kg) GT was a sight to see. Since the development of Nomad Sportfishing in the early 2000’s, GTs around 50-60kg mark are not an uncommon catch. 

This leads me to why I started Topwater Sportfishing Charters. After starting my fishing career at a noticeably young age and jumping straight into marlin fishing, I thought why would anyone want to catch anything else other than marlin? After coming to cairns in 2010 and seeing what GT fishing was all about, I changed my mindset and wondered why not focus on just these two amazing creatures of the ocean? I did a number of years guiding for Nomad Sportfishing, which helped me get my head around targeting GT’s and also built an extensive marlin knowledge base crewing on some well renowned game fishing boats.


I now run my own sport-fishing operation (Topwater Sportfishing Charters) that specialises in giant black marlin and Giant Trevally fishing with the ambition of giving anglers an experience they will never forget.


Don't miss the opportunity to fish the Great Barrier reef for these Giants. Dates are limited for Heavy Tackle season, so get in touch with Jason from 'Topwater Sportfishing Charters' to book your next big adventure.


Everything you need to know is on his website.

https://www.topwatersportfishing.com.au