Ben “Notso” Bright

Weipa Sportfishing Guide

Ben has been in the sport and gamefishing industry forever, starting his career as a full-time gameboat deckie on the east coast and having spent more than a decade now guiding clients on a massive number of species out of Weipa. Over the last 4-5 years he’s been operating his own charter business “Last Cast Guiding”.

Notso’s Best Tips For Weipa Sailfish

  • Weipa sailfish tend to be a little unpredictable, but when everything comes together the fishing can be spectacular. They can be caught in any month of the year, but the fishing usually peaks from August to October.
  • Ben’s theory is that the sailfish don’t ever leave the Gulf of Carpentaria. In contrast to the East and West coast fisheries where sails are typically a clean water species they are sometimes found in quite green water out of Weipa.
  • It’s not necessary to travel huge distances offshore to find sailfish, and they are often found in depths of around 30m.
  • The trick to finding them is really having as many boats on the water as possible and sharing info with each other. They don’t seem to be associated with bottom features, currents or other features, finding them is usually a case of going to wherever they were seen or caught the day before. For visitors, it’s worth talking to the guys at the Weipa Billfish club for advice.
  • Trolling a daisy chain style teaser or two behind the boat is worth doing to attract the sailfish to the boat. There are also four FAD’s that aggregate bait and mahi mahi as well as sailfish.
  • The sailfish in the Weipa area are a reasonably consistent size at around 15 to 20kg, but they have a few black marlin mixed in ranging from 5 to 200 kg. The ratio is about 1 marlin for every ten sailfish.
  • The mackerel can be a bit of an issue due to the havoc they wreak on the lures! Ben often switches to trolling baits because the mackerel can make trolling lures quite expensive. Trolling lures can be difficult also in the morning due to wind chop that makes it difficult to get enough speed up.
  • Notso finds that if he runs a lure long in a spread of baits and teasers it seems to be the black marlin that eat the lure.
  • “Life attracts life” and any time you find dolphins, pelagic sea snakes, birds and so on it’s worth sticking around as sailfish may be nearby. Interestingly, Notso finds that sailfish and mackerel tend to school separately, rather than in mixed schools.
  • There are oceanic currents around Weipa that typically flow northwards early in the season and switches to southwards later in the season. It’s not clear how the sailfish use these, but Notso has caught fish on both sides of the flow.
  • If a sailfish is raised but is non-committal, just keep moving, definitely don’t slow down, just continue in a straight line. Use the boat to manage the amount of line you have out. If a bull shark appears, let the fish run on a light drag and you’ll often find the shark disappears, allowing the angler to chase down the fish and recover line.
  • Don’t let them get down deep, keep changing the angle you fight them, especially big marlin. Don’t allow them to get into a pattern.

Notso’s Sailfish Tackle

  • 10kg tackle is perfect for sailfish, although the occasional larger marlin can make for pretty hard work on this level of tackle. 15kg gear is probably better for beginners.
  • Spin or overhead tackle is fine, depending on what you prefer. This gear is versatile enough that you can also use it for jigging, casting slugs or other techniques if the sailfish aren’t about.

Notso’s Sailfish Lures

  • Pusher style trolling lures are usually the best option and Pakula Lures have a pretty good following around Weipa. Sailfish will often eat quite large lures, but 6-8” lures seem to be the best.
  • Notso prefers a strong, chemically sharpened single hook in his trolling lures. He runs wire between the head of the lure and the hook to reduce mackerel bite-offs. Single hooks make it easier to release fish and reduce the chances of a second hook finding its way into a hand or leg when a fisty fish is caught.

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