There is a huge variety of big game and sportfish available either seasonally or year-round off the northern NSW coast. Here are just a few of the fish regularly targeted by the region's game anglers...
Without doubt the fish most sought-after by serious big game anglers on the Solitary Coast, where specimens over 300 kilograms (660 pounds) have been caught. The biggest of the marlin here, it visits this coast from October to May. It can be tough to find, but when you do, it strikes like an express train, fights like a demon, and gives no quarter. Once you've caught and released one of these fish, you can rightly claim to have experienced the best that game fishing here has to offer - that is until you find the next Blue Marlin as part of your ongoing quest to catch the biggest prize of all, the first 1,000 pound "Grander" Blue Marlin that has yet to be caught here.
The Black Marlin fishery on the Solitary coast is not the same as the legendary giant black marlin fishery of the Great Barrier Reef. Here, the Black Marlin rarely exceed 100kg and are usually smaller juvenile fish that visit our coast to feed and grow over the summer months before they move on to the mid-Pacific Ocean before returning at maturity to the Barrier Reef waters. The juvenile Black Marlin on the Solitary Coast provide spectacular light tackle game fishing opportunities, and fantastic spectator sport with their propensity for aerobatics and athleticism, and their arrival in our waters in December each year is eagerly awaited by anglers.
The Striped Marlin on the Solitary Coast provide much of the marlin action during the cooler months, which is one of the reasons why the marlin gear is never packed away in this part of the world - the marlin fishing continues year-round. A good-looking fish with superb colouring and a lighter body weight than the blue marlin, this is also an extremely athletic fish giving magnificent aerial displays during a fight. Striped Marlin can be frustrating fish to catch, due to their propensity to window shop your lure pattern as they take a look at what you've got on offer before making a selection and jumping on the lure of their choice. When the large schools of slimy mackerel are around, live baiting for Striped Marlin can be extremely rewarding.
Always known to be present in deeper waters off the continental shelf of northern NSW, these large billfish are currently targeted primarily during night fishing outings. However, with daylight deep swordfish techniques now being proven to be highly successful in other parts of the world, the fishery is being opened up here as well, and should soon provide a new dimension to the game fishing options of the Solitary Coast.
Easily identified due to their relatively short bill and small size, these fish visit our waters in summer, and are usually caught while trolling for marlin. Rarely caught here over 25kg, these fish have no qualms jumping all over large blue marlin lures, but are only ever present in low numbers compared to more tropical waters.
These beautiful billfish visit the Solitary Coast in summer, preferring the inshore islands and white water washes, where they can be targeted using lures and live baits. Superb light-tackle sportfish, they are acrobatic and highly photogenic, and often hang around the same reefs and bait aggregation areas where anglers find the juvenile black marlin that appear at about the same time over the warmer months of the year here.
Solid muscle, great sport and (unfortunately for them) fantastic eating, these sleek and hydrodynamically perfect fish are tough adversaries that strike hard, go deep immediately after hookup, and have to be muscled in to the boat. They are a fast-moving fish that feeds voraciously on large balls of baitfish, herding them along at speeds that make it difficult to keep up with a feeding school when game fishing. Yellowfin will hit almost anything that looks edible or flashy when they get into a feeding frenzy, and be ready for a surprize when you first pick up a rod with a big tuna like this going flat out in the opposite direction. They can be caught year-round off our coast
Mahi-Mahi, or Dolphinfish
These gorgeous speedsters are one of the fastest-growing fish in the ocean. They are ridiculously colourful, fantastic eating, and fearless when it comes to smashing anything that gets their attention, including the largest marlin lures. Visiting the Solitary Coast throughout the summer months, they chase lures in blazing attacks and then provide excellent sport fishing on light tackle.
One of the fastest fish in the ocean, these gorgeous silver and grey fish with electric blue stripes are fearless predators that will often attack a lure from the air, much like a cruise missile. Attracted to the same lures used for marlin, their razor-sharp teeth will slice through 500-lb monofilament trace like a hot knife, slashing off a $100 lure in a heartbeat. When brought to the boat, they are worth keeping if there's space in the freezer, as they are delicious eating. Wahoo visit the Solitary coast during the summer months, and tend to hunt in packs, with double hookups common.