The 50th Anniversary Black Marlin & AIBT Tournament Cairns
On 25 September 1966, Capt. George Bransford made world fishing history when he and deckhand Richard Obach landed a 1,064lb black marlin marking the first grander ever landed in Australian waters. The capture of this first ‘grander’ black marlin put Cairns on the world game fishing map and was the catalyst for the establishment on an industry that has brought tens of thousands of anglers to enjoy fishing in the Cairns region in the 50 years since.
The 50th Anniversary event itself drew a fleet of 54 boats and 340 competitors from across Australia and internationally from Japan, UK, USA, PNG and New Zealand.
Celebrations commenced with the unveiling of a life-size (1100lb size) black marlin sculpture designed by Craig Smith and funded by private donations on the waterfront at the Cairns Marlin Marina on September 25, as the competing fleet gathered within the marina for start fishing the next day.
After the sailpast down Trinity Inlet, the fleet spread far and wide along the reef north of Cairns as the fishing grounds extended from the northern end at the top of #6 Ribbon Reef to the southern end of Channel Reef.
With a grander black marlin already reported in the leadup to the event, hopes for good fishing and big fish were high. Unfortunately, while the weather fully cooperated with flat calm seas every day, the fish did not join the party with only 43 tags reported over 4 days of fishing.
Some of the significant catches included however an 800lb blue marlin tagged on Capt. Tim Dean’s Calypso. And fittingly for an event celebrating the first Cairns grander, a grander black marlin on Capt. Bill Billson’s Viking II for American angler Chase Hooper.
It was the Eggins family’s Athaldo with Capt. Alan “Tiger” Geale that lead from day 1 with eventual winners on Capt. Corey Hard’s Askari relegating them to Runners-Up on Day 3 to take the lead through the final day.
And Capt. Corey and his team were in celebration mode with him taking the opportunity on stage to propose to long-term girlfriend Rani Moriarty whilst accepting the Champions trophy (she said yes!). Champion Angler and the Jack Erskine Memorial Trophy went to Mitch Liddell fishing on Askari. Champion Female went to Lesley Longdon on The Godfather.
The Presentation Gala included the 2016 Cairns Game Fishing Hall of Fame inductions with 6 very deserving Cairns fishing identities recognised being Peter Bristow, Dr. Dave Curnock, Bob Lowe, Pat Gay AM, Billy Fairbairn and Vince Vlassoff MBE. With the exception of the late Vince Vlassoff whose award was accepted by Kevin Dunne, all were in attendance and regaled the 560 strong audience with some stories and footage of old.