The 2016 game season will go down in history as one of the best ever for a bunch of keen fisherman out West. The boats DarkHorse, CCrazy, TackleBox and Backlash have all been making headlines this season with some amazing captures. And they all have two things in common.
There have only ever been four Blue Marlin caught out of the Manakau in game fishing history and this team have accounted for three of them this season. Add to that a swag of very nice swordfish, rare wahoo captures and a long run of striped marlin, and you can see these guys have been consistently putting results on the board.
I caught up with Brian Mankelow (DarkHorse) and Devlin Hill (TackleBox) for a chat about some of their exploits this season.
Brian has had an amazing season, going an incredible 47-35-27 on marlin this year, that includes 24 striped marlin, 1 Blue and a Black, add to that a yellowfin and 5 swordfish going 165kg, 113kg and 109kg plus two T&R.
DarkHorse was originally custom built in 2007, and Brian purchased it from the original owners 2 years ago. At the time is was kitted it out with a NavNet and since then Brian has added a FCV295 sounder with 2kw transducer. “The 295 has been an amazing piece of kit. Twice this season I have run over bait balls, come back over them and been marking individual marlin around the bait, and called other boats over who have benefited from hooking up.” He’s had plenty of success himself catching 25 striped marlin so far this season.
When it comes to swords Brian says the 295 has been instrumental in their success this season “The 295 helps me to find the scattered layer on bait where the swords are always close to. Sometimes we are fishing in 900-1000m of water, so without it it could take all day to work out what depth to set the bait, a lot of times we are hooking fish first drop of the day because we are marking exactly where the swords will be.”
Devlin is equally impressed. “That 295 has been worth every cent I spent on it. We’ve marked a lot of unmarked ground in very deep water while we’ve been chasing marlin that we are now coming back to prospect for swords. But without the 295 you are guessing really, you need a big grunty sounder, not to find the bottom, but to mark the layer of bait, and that is where the swords are.”
The highlight for Devlin this season with his angler Paul Shirley and crewman Ryan Hill teaming up to land an impressive 234.1kg Blue Marlin. Devlin was heading wide for a swordfish when they had a fish up in the gear. They called the three other boats that they were fishing in tandem with over to work the area and after working it hard hooked a Blue on the RG4 Flying fish that Devlin was running on the shotgun.
Another highlight for Devlin has been getting his son Ryan on to his first marlin. “He’s my number one crewman and the first in line to head out on any mission with me. He’s played another couple of fish, including one out of Hokianga we lost at the boat after 3 hours, I’m super proud of his determination.”
After TackleBox’s Blue Marlin capture, DarkHorse followed suit with a 199.5kg Blue which took 1 hour, and team Backlash followed suit with a 199.3kg Blue which they landed in an impressive ½ hour. 3 swords in 3 weeks out of the Manakau, who would have thought.
CCrazy skippered by Pete Jackson has had a great season as well, one of the highlights being a rare catch of a 26.4kg Wahoo, caught by his son Marshall
The four boats between them have collectively accounted for 56 striped marlin (majority released) and 7 swordfish this season.