Tag Archives: season


Early in 2006 found Viking II heading south for it’s season in Port Stephens. Our ever popular cost of fuel only trip from the Gold Coast to Port Stephens where we troll the continental shelf of NSW presented some great fishing for Warrick, Tony, and big Mike. The boy’s had a ball catching all 3 species of Marlin as well as some quality yellow fin.

Port Stephens again proved itself to be an outstanding destination, my regular fly fishing clients were kept busy on the long rods with the perfect size stripers and blacks and were blown away by the odd nice blue.

Conventional tackle clients had some big days, with double figures and the odd grand slam not uncommon. But without a doubt the biggest highlight of the Port Stephens season was winning the NSW Interclub Tournament Champion boat Tag and Release. Kim, my hard working wife, was relieved of her mother and office duties to fish this tournament. And fish it she did, taking out not only champion female angler, but also champion angler over all. A feat never before achieved by a lady. I achieved a personal milestone in my career, having now won this tournament four times as captain in the capture as well as the tag and release divisions. Again a feat never before achieved.

Four of the Billson’s Blue water Sport fishing Workshops were held in 06. Two in Port Stephens and two on the Gold Coast. As always these were highly successful. Held over weekends these workshops are not only for the new comers to the sport but also for the experienced, yes I can teach some old dogs some new tricks. Click here for this years dates if you want to join the fun!

I had a break from the fishing program for a few months this year, to refit the charter boat Mauna Kea. The Mauna Kea had been purchased by good friend Jeff Jennings, well one thing led to another and I found myself back using my old trade’s tools again, refitting the whole engine room and designing and overseeing the installation of its new tower. A lot of hard work but I am more than happy with the end result.

The Viking II departed the Gold Coast in late August for my 20th Giant Black Marlin season as a Captain and the 40th anniversary season of the first black Marlin captured over 1000lb. We kicked off on the 7th September and found there was no shortage of small to medium fish to keep the clients entertained. By the middle of September we had released our first nice one. Simon Atkinson the angler was ecstatic over the capture, and the boats first nice one for the season put smiles all round.

The 40th Anniversary Tournament with its 65 boats made it one of Cairns largest ever tournaments. Anglers Henning Hassle, Nils Christian Foss from Denmark who had been so successful in a previous Lizard Island Tournament were trying there luck with me again. The boys took 3 days prior the 4 day event to get there hand in. At the end of a tightly fought tournament the Viking II came in second place to Mauna Kea. (I knew I spent too much time on that refit). Never the less a great tournament, and a good result. Congratulations to Jeff and the boys, and my team.

Robert Ell and his team from Sydney were back again, their 4 day trip produced 24 bites for 10 releases. We had a ball too Rob.

Matt Sanders, and Greg Beard, mixed up a spear fishing trip with their marlin fishing, 3 days of marlin fishing for 6 releases and no shortage of trout for the table.

Beau Kuok another regular, normally a Lizard Island guest, this year decided to experience staying on the reef live aboard. Beau enjoys fishing the reef in the mornings and employs his Chinese cooking skills to prepare the fish for lunch. His steamed coral trout or red emperor is to die for. Beau still managed to average a Marlin a day during his afternoon session and will be spending more time on the reef in the future.

The Lizard Island tournament rolled around again Murray Hansen and the boys from NZ utilized the comfort of a mother ship for the 7 days, and put there trust in me to give them a result.. I have won this gig 4 times prior but this year was not my year. The boys were great sports and we had plenty of laughs. You know what they say the sun doesn’t shine out of the same dogs arse all the time.

I had to leave the Viking to Capt Steve Haygarth ( Hoggy) to run for 10 days while I attended to some other commitments. Hoggy has done many seasons with me and he did a great job for clients Michael Hayes and friend and Jeff cooper and friends. I saw the video footage and believe some of the fish released during this time were well over 1000lb. Good Job Hogg.
John Houghton and mate Steve Woods took 6 days at the start of November. John celebrated his 50th birthday on the reef, Steve got a 900lber and John caught his share of smaller fish.

Bruce Yancey did his second trip with me, and utilized the Atlantic Princess for his Mother ship. I must say at this point that the AP’s service and food is second to none on the reef, and our 3 nights were thoroughly enjoyed. Bruce still has not been lucky with a nice fish, but wins the party animal award every time.

Richard Draper, Chris Hevelston, John Staley only took 3 days but got real lucky, 2 over 900lb and 4 in total. This started a nice little roll for us.

Roy Sayman also only took three days, but caught 8 fish including one over 800lb and one over 600lb. By 14:30 on Roy’s last day, we got an early mark; Roy was a little worn out to catch another one.

The husband and wife team of Bruce and Laurie Bosley took 6 days a wonderful couple who were passionate about their fishing. They were rewarded with 10 fish for their trip, and each achieving a dream of 2 big ones around 900lb.

Regular’s Paul Kelly Uncle Doug and Rodney, love there bottom fishing and light tackle and had a great first day with a 20lb red emperor and 40lb Spanish mackerel. When the marlin baits were put in Uncle Doug hooked up to a sea monster, the big fish took its toll on Doug who is not a big man, he looked a little relieved when after a succession of unbelievable jumps the big fish got rid of the hook. Still puffing after the first encounter, Uncle Doug, who is not a fit man. (Sorry Uncle Doug) was on again this time to a 500lber on steroids. I will say one thing about Uncle Doug, what he lacks in size he makes up for in heart. The boys each caught a marlin and plenty of other action on the other tackle.

Jim Wild and friends were to finish off my season, we were on 95 fish for the big fish season and sights were set on the three figures, alas it was not to be. I took a punt and went out wide to the sea mount, plenty of big Wahoo and Dorado and bait but no marlin, a missed opportunity on the way back in, and one fish on the edge was our finish. Jim and his mates were great guys and loved their trip.

2006 was over 82 days of heavy tackle marlin for 96 fish, I think close to top boat we had some great times with you guys and hoped you enjoyed our company and efforts. Thank you so much.


The Cairns heavy tackle marlin season was again another beauty for us, our circle hook techniques are still proving hard to beat, and for the 3 rd consecutive season we have been in the top boat category.

We started our season in early September, with the Jeff Jennings Generosity Tour. Jeff is one of my regulars whose generosity and of course good business sense, shouts certain colleagues a trip to the reef. His generosity was rewarded with some great fishing off No 10 Ribbon Reef catching 10 marlin for his trip as well as Large Dogtooth Tuna up to 50kg and Spanish Mackerel up to 40kg. Jeff also picked up a few new orders for his business.

We than started our giant marlin site seeing tours, fishing 2 weeks using a mixture of fly fishing tackle, light tackle, and poppers to catch sea monsters. As usual as soon as you put out the teaser baits without hooks the big ones nailed us. My Japanese friends Moto and Hiro had some amazing stories to tell when they got home. Long fights with marlin close to 800lb on 20lb tippet, fulfilled Hiro’s dream of seeing a giant marlin eat a fly. Moto’s 4 hour fight into the early night in 25 knots plus of breeze with a 650lber hooked on a popper, was a feat in itself especially as he got washed off his feet more than once. Both boys experienced blown away fishing.

The big guns came out again and clients Malcom Summers, from the UK, Kevin Cook and his team from the Gold Coast, and Matt Sanders and his 3 mates, all chartered five days separately up to the 16 th of October and had a ball. 25 black marlin up to 800lb were tagged and released.

The Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic rolled around again, our first day was beyond belief, 3 fish over 950lb jumping on the leader, we managed to get a tag into 2 of the big fish, with the 3 rd breaking the leader just before the tag found it’s mark. A 450lber just before knock off on the first day set us up for another great start in this prestigious tournament.

The fish kept coming for Henning Hasle and Nils Christian Foss from Denmark, and again we were in contention for yet another win. On the 4 th day Henning Hasle from the USA hooked up on a nice one which had plenty of length and could put him in contention for largest fish. We elected to keep this fish, but unfortunately the fish lacked condition and only pulled the needle down to 970lb still a nice one but not beating the 1060lber already weighed.

At the end of the 7 th day we had caught the 2 nd most fish, our weighed fish could not go against our tag score, to officially put us as second, but we were still more than happy with our results. We had won two of the days and runners up for champion male angler. This makes our results over the last 4 years in this tournament quite amazing. 2001 Champion Boat, 2002 Champion Boat, 2003 Runner up Champion Boat, and the 2004 results. No other boat can come close to Viking II’s results over the years in this tournament.

While I am on the subject of the results
Our popular Sport fishing work shops are on again this April in Port Stephens, one weekend is already full so get in quick. As a special offer this year, one person from each workshop is invited to come aboard Viking II for a week during the heavy tackle season as my guest, to learn the ropes up there. THAT’S RIGHT FREE. Just have to get yourself up there. All details on the workshop can be found on our website www.australianmarlin.com

Tracy Melton from Melton International tackle again joined me up on the reef this year. Tracy has caught a 1000lb blue marlin on standup and was chasing a Black. We came close one about 900lb maybe 950lb, gave Tracy a hard time, but he did an outstanding job keeping 45lbs of drag on the whole time. Beautiful fish, swam away real healthy after the tag went in. Love those circle hooks.

Well we didn’t get our 100 fish this season, slowed a little in November due to excessive long periods of calm weather.

We topped out at 83. I think only one other boat may have beaten us, so I can’t complain too much. We were well above a fish a day. Considering the days we were playing around with light and fly fishing tackle, it was still a great season. I was more than impressed from the emails we received after the season (see below) .

We left Cairns on the 11 th December, south bound for Port Stephens. I think the best trip I have had with winds behind us most of the way, and some great fishing as well. From Lady Musgrave Island to the Gold Coast we were having consistent Marlin and Sailfish bites, mixed in with quality Wahoo and Mahi Mahi, and a grand slam down the NSW Coast.

Remember you can come on a section of these transfer trips, for only fuel and food costs, many have done it and loved it.

That’s about all for now folks hope you all have a great year, and some special fish come your way. We hope to see you soon aboard the Viking II

Capt Bill

2001 Giant Black Marlin Season Update

The 2001 Giant Black Marlin Season will go down as one to remember. In total there were 8 marlin weighed over the magical 1000lb mark and 4 of those 8 fish were over 1200lb with one very close to 1400lbs. Congratulations to the following anglers:

Craig Caughlan 1389LB
Adam Atkins 1288LB
Norm Ennis 1260LB
Jack Owens 1256LB
Hugh Wiley 1170LB
Max Warrick 1070LB
Parke Berolzheimer 1058LB
Steve Chicolo 1025LB

But more importantly there were over 30 very large fish released. Cairns leads the world for the release of large marlin and is pioneering the use of circle hooks and sonic tags to assist in the preservation of the species.

The Internationally renowned Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic, was run over 7 days, 21st to 27th October. No other tournament on the calendar can boast the results of this tournament since its inauguration, and the 2001 classic was no exception. New president Bob Lowe did an outstanding job in the organization and running of the Classic, and with the help of major sponsors the Caughlan family and Firth Insurance put together a tournament to remember. As always the tournament promotes tag and release and it has become a Captain’s etiquette not to keep a fish under 1000Llb. The amazing highlight of the 2001 classic was the weighing of 3 fish over the magical 1000lb.

Viking II again proved that we are consistently consistent, winning the tournament for the 3rd time. With many second places in previous years, and winner of the biggest fish award twice, no other boat can boast such results in this prestigious tournament.

Over the last five seasons the Cairns’ Giant Black Marlin Fishery has seen some changes. The charter fleet is now prepared to move away from the traditional grounds, when the current and water clarity are not favourable. The walls, bay’s, points, and openings of that 160 mile stretch, on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, from Lizard Island to Cairns, that has produced such phenomenal fishing for over 30 years, has now been extended to include vast area’s of the Coral Sea. Captains that are fortunate enough to have powerful sounders have found new under sea structure that is consistently producing quality fish. This structure which includes canyons, seamounts, and plateau’s, can be found as close as 4 to 10 miles east of the reef, and in many cases is an extension of the surface shape of the reef itself. The recently named Flattery Plateau, which produced two of the largest fish weighed for the 2001 season, and was also a big fish hot spot in 2000, is the perfect example. Another example is the grounds wide of the famous middle Ribbon reefs, between no. 3 and no. 7. East of these reefs, is prominent structure that ranges in depths from 1200 to 1900 meters. From one of these extensions at the bottom of no. 5 Ribbon Reef, the first Grander for the 2001 season was caught.

The new out wide fishery off Cairns, as well as the existing fishery is again proving that no place on this earth can compete to this destination for the size and number of quality fish. A great season at another top destination is like a good day here. I am often amazed at how little publicity the Cairns area receives. I guess some people are just trying to keep it a secret. Well the cat’s out of the bag again. Not only can you catch Giant Black Marlin out of Cairns but the 2001 season produced some large Blues, and not to mention the fun you can have with large yellow fin tuna and big eye tuna while searching for the big blacks out wide.

Viking II averaged 3 bites a day during the big fish season, and as always was one of the Cairns marlin fleets top boats.