Fishing Marlin

Great Barrier Reef | Australia

A new

Even as a boy, a trip to Australia was a dream for me, and the Great Barrier Reef, in particular, always had a magical allure. There are few European travel agencies that offer fishing trips to Australia. The demand might not be very high due to the arduous journey.

In my research, I came across Nomad Sportfishing (, the most renowned Australian organizer for fishing trips. Primarily, they specialize in conventional fishing, but they design one or two trips a year for fly fishermen as well.

On the internet, I then found Stefan Kreupl's website, which is specialized in bluewater fishing. Stefan confirmed to me that the boat "Tradition," captained by Tim Richardson (, is a top choice for offshore fishing at the Barrier Reef.

Great Barrier Reef | Australia
29. October - 02. November 2013


On my way to the Tradition

In the summer of 2013, I booked five days aboard the "Tradition" to fish for black marlin off the Barrier Reef / Ribbon Reef near Cairns.

This is a new experience for me, as I've never spent more than a day trip on an offshore fishing boat before.

After that, I'm planning to continue for eight days with Nomad Sportfishing, fly fishing on a Nomad Expeditions boat, targeting the reef and predator fish of the Barrier Reef from Claremont Island to Horn Island.

The journey to Australia is, of course, quite time-consuming. On October 26, 2013, I fly from Munich to Singapore and then onwards to Brisbane. After an overnight layover, I fly to Cairns. From Cairns, I have to take a Cessna further north to Cooktown, where I stay overnight once again. Finally, on October 29, I will be met at the Cooktown harbor by Captain Tim Richardson, along with his crew Justin and Eric, and his boat "Tradition." You can see at first glance that the "Tradition" is a superbly equipped boat. Everything is up to date. It's evident that Tim himself professionally outfits offshore fishing boats. I have a double-bed cabin with air conditioning all to myself, and there's even excellent Wi-Fi available at sea through a satellite system.

Our boat


The first Days

October 29, 2013: Amazing start on the first day of fishing

From Cooktown, we travel about 25 kilometers to the Inner Barrier Reef. Using light trolling gear, we catch baitfish: Spanish mackerel and ladyfish. The latter is one of the best baits for marlin. Soon, it becomes clear that dealing with baitfish can be quite hectic, as the reels start going off in succession, often with 2 or 3 bites simultaneously.

Once the baitfish are hooked, they are prepared as trolling baits and put into the cooler. Young Justin is very meticulous about this process. After watching him a few times, I still struggle to remember the workflow. For him, preparing a single baitfish trolling bait takes about ten minutes.

Then, it's time to start; the rods are set out. After ten minutes with baitfish on the system, I already catch my first marlin, a rather small one. Tim seems unusually small to him, but for me, it's an amazing fish. My first marlin, and that after 10 minutes!

The wound on the fish comes from tagging. The fish is tagged while still in the water with a marking tag that has a registration number. It looks worse than it is because the tagging tags don't go deep into the flesh.

In the evening, just before 6 p.m., I catch a 400-pound marlin on the Outer Ribbon Reef. An incredible experience! For the first time, I feel the strength and size of such a powerful and heavy fish.

The evenings are adventurous and romantic. Often, it's calm, and we anchor just before the Inner Reef in the lee of the waves, along with other boats. Sometimes, I also have great fishing opportunities in front of the anchored boat. As soon as the anchor light shines in the water, the baitfish gather and form a baitfish ball, attracting predators - much to my delight.

Snorkeling & Spearfishing

The underwater world at the Barrier Reef is naturally captivating, and the coral world is still intact. I'm also a diver, so I can't miss out on this. While we don't have diving equipment with us, snorkeling alone is fascinating. The reef is incredibly beautiful, and unlike other dive sites, there are large fish swimming everywhere here. A special experience is snorkeling with Justin and spearfishing for our dinner. We're getting the best of the best: coral trouts. They taste divine!

The hunt for coral trouts is thrilling. Once you've speared a fish, you have to get it to the surface and onto the boat as quickly as possible. The sharks immediately detect the blood and gather quickly. Usually, bringing in the speared fish takes a lot of effort, as the fish almost always swim into the nearest hole in a coral formation. Threading and pulling them out of the hole is not really my thing. I usually leave it to Justin, who has endless breath.

If there are too many sharks around, we have to abandon this endeavor.

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    On to the ship
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    Catch of the day
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    Fishing impressions
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    At the Port
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    The view
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    Trolling bait prepared
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    Trolling bait prepared
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    At night
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    Day & Night

Luck doesn't run out!

October 30 - November 2, 2013: Four days of fishing at the Reef

The marlin fishing is brilliant. I land six black marlins in five days and don't go a day without a catch. Every day, I go snorkeling and spearfishing.

On November 1, just before 6 p.m., my lucky moment arrives. I catch a 900-pound black marlin! The fight isn't long but it's adventurous. As soon as the 300-pound leader comes close to the tip of the rod, the guides take the leader in hand and try to bring the fish to the boat manually. In the process, the fish often jumps out of the water multiple times. The water boils around the boat. The adrenaline level rises; it's an incredible experience. The crew's goal is to tag the fish, then cut the leader as short as possible and release the fish unharmed. This way, the fish doesn't get too tired and still has enough strength to dive. The fish is considered caught as soon as the guide takes the leader in hand.

There are great videos of my marlin catches. Everything is professionally organized on the Tradition! As soon as a fish is hooked, three GoPro cameras are activated via remote control. These cameras are mounted at three different positions on the boat and capture the fight from three different perspectives.

Last day on the Tradition:

In the late afternoon, I catch a 100-pound marlin and then another one weighing 950 pounds. I'm overjoyed and satisfied. These five days have truly been worthwhile.

Right after, we speed back to land in Port Douglas for two hours. A taxi picks me up at the harbor and takes me to Cairns, which is an hour away by car. There, I spend a night at the Shangri La Hotel to continue my journey to Musgrave the next day, where I will be welcomed by Nomad Sportfishing. I still have eight days of fly fishing at the Barrier Reef ahead of me, and I'm already incredibly excited for it.

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    There we go
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    Watch the Sea
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    Lookout Post
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    Time to fish
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    Hard Work
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    Watching out for Marlins

All images
of the trip