2011 Tournament Diary

In only its second year of running, The Port Douglas Marlin Challenge heavy tackle tournament  quickly gainied a reputation up and down the east coast of Australia as a top class competition with anglers travelling afar to compete as the US, Hong Kong, Bali, New Zealand, Sydney and Adelaide.

The 2011 tournament saw 14 ultimate fishing machines vying for honours over the 4 day competition in what proved to be a very tight and fiercely fought event. Follow the day by day diary which eventually saw a dark horse, a young local skipper take the competition by storm leading his team and boat to victory. 


1. Spartacus (2010 winner) 

2. Gorilla (2010 R/U)    

3. Joe Joe 

4. In A Meeting  

5. Rat Bag  

6. Amakura

7. Kyrenia  

8. Bite Me  

9. Mistress

10. Reel Impression  

11. Diversion

12. Think Big  

13. Hellraiser  

14. Dragon Lady

Wednesday 2nd November

At a private luxury residence on the Wharf St. Hill of Port Douglas, 100 aspiring fishermen and women gathered on dusk to make acquaintances with each other and to familiarise themselves with the tournament rules. Amongst a delightful pool garden setting with a spectacular view stretching north along our magnificent coastline, it was a very relaxed evening spoiled with gourmet canape’s and a few refreshing beverages.

There was also the Calcutta of the vessels, which tends to extract out the competitive nature of most, pooling together in excess of $10,000. Not surprisingly as they came 1st & 2nd respectively in 2010, according to the tally it was clear Spartacus was a red hot favourite with Gorilla not far behind.

DAY 1 Thursday 3rd November

All vessels gathered in the marina duck pond before filing out in single file behind last year’s winner Spartacus. Once again we had the brilliant services of Skysafari Helicopters with chief pilot Bradley King, cameraman David Vivian and photographer Perrin Clarke capturing this unique assembly of top line fishing vessels by air in this sleepy seaside village.

Once out of the harbour leads the vessels all lined up adjacent to each other and awaited for the official radio start call. With the green light given, and as a tournament tradition, all boats maintain a straight line cruising at 15 knots for 5 minutes so film crews can capture the moment in stunning detail. This year again, with a glorious morning on our side, this was an amazing spectacle. Once formalities were done the call came through, ‘Good luck guys, we’ll talk next just prior to start fishing at 11am’. With this, vessels picked up speed and took off across the ocean horizon in spectacular fashion. It was GAME ON.

Start Fishing ... Start Fishing !

With a 15 knot SE breeze, by the 11am Start Fishing radio call it was established where vessels were to start their campaign. Boats were as far spread by 30 miles from Linden Bank to as far north as the bottom of the Ribbon Reefs. Many of the skippers had the belief the bite was going occur further north as recent reports had indicated. The first hook-up radioed through was from Gorilla at 12.01pm near Ribbon Reef No.2 and they looked to continue their good form. However this was very quickly retracted as a lost fish. Just as this lost fish was recorded, Hellraiser beamed through a hook-up at 12.10pm. By the 1pm radio schedule vessels reported back in 5 strikes, 2 hook-ups and no set tags, however Hellraiser had obviously raised a big fish and was still battling away. The next two hours went by uneventful with only one further strike recorded at 3pm, yet Hellraiser with Sue Ahler in the chair was still going toe to toe with a big girl of considerable size. After a dramatic 4 hour fight she lost this fish in the end - gut wrenching to say the least but a great effort. According to the crew this marlin could have been easily a whopping 1200-1300lb fish and was of extraordinary size. The next 2.5 hrs would see the action hot up considerably and the late afternoon is normally what many call the prime bite time or the ‘be-witching period’

At 3.38pm Simon Jenour aboard Joe Joe finally hooked properly up to a 450lb model at Escape Reef following a harrowing series of unsuccessful strikes and hook-ups. Luck had finally changed for the boat and he successfully set the tag 7 minutes later before releasing it. This effort would see him win the champion angler of the day as proceedings transpired. Having travelled all the way from Bali for the tournament two years running, it was his first ever marlin and a fitting result. At 4.20pm situated at Ribbon Reef No.3 Gorilla secured another hook-up with veteran marlin angler Mark ‘Chucky’ McMillan on the reel (Chucky was a daily champion angler in 2010). In a short but intense battle they quickly claimed this fish 6 minutes later calling it a 300lb specimen before letting it free. Joe Joe had certainly found it’s own little patch of productive ground at Escape Reef and radioed through a hook-up at 4.42pm only to be retracted minutes later with a lost fish which threw its hooks in a brilliant aerial display. At 4.52pm Kyrenia opened its account in glorious style hooking up to a monster fish at Linden Bank. Peter Michaltis was the angler and with superb technique by himself and the crew, they tagged this fish 6 minutes later. They called this fish as a 950lb model and this displays how far boats, tackle and angling techniques have come to be able to release such a big animal in such short time. Well done to Skipper Damon Gruszdev and the Kyrenia team.

As soon as this battle was done and dusted, Joe Joe was on again at 4.59pm. With angler Richard Jenkins determined to open his tournament account he was bewildered when his approx. 400lb fish managed to throw the hooks during a string of dynamic jumps. Joe Joe could have been a bolt away leader by now if they had managed to convert most of their encounters - but that’s fishing as they say. Their heartbreaking ratio read 4/3/1. With the cease fishing call fast approaching at 5.30pm, at Linden Bank Kyrenia radioed in again at 5.20pm and threatened to take the tournament lead. They unfortunately lost what they described as a ‘big slob’ of a fish a couple of minutes later. Literally seconds before the cease fishing call, Gorilla beamed through a hook-up on Ribbon Reef No. 3 but also lost this fish very quickly. So Day 1 went down as a mixed result, only a handful of boats saw any serious action, a lot of fish were un-converted, but there were some monster fish raised.

Day 1 Statistics:
16 Strikes, 7 Hook-ups, 3 Tagged fish.

Daily Champion Angler:
Simon Jenour (Joe Joe)

Leading Vessel:
Joe Joe 1 Tag

DAY 2 Friday 4th November

With another day of 15 knot breezes, boats were still well spread apart from Ribbon Reef No. 3 right down along the shelf edge to Linden Bank. At 11am the Start Fishing call echoed through the airwaves. It was a quiet couple of hours before Hellraiser jolted proceedings on Escape Reef with a hook-up at 1.40pm.

Sue Ahlers was at it again and she was determined to seal the deal on this one. She did so accordingly 5 minutes later tagging and releasing a 200lb black marlin. Hellraiser was the only boat to see any decent action by the 3pm radio schedule.

LAYDAY  Saturday 5th November

Saturday was a Lay Day, allowing some vessels to head back to port for some R&R, whilst it gave other vessels time to enjoy other activities on the Great Barrier Reef and even time to come up with a new strategy.