Marlin on the Flats

Targeting juvenile black marlin in the shallows off Fraser Island, Australia.
Al McGlashan
The shallow sand flats of Fraser Island off Australia's East Coast might be one of the few places in the world where an angler can catch a marlin in chest-deep water. When conditions are right, you can even get dozens of shots every day. Al McGlashan dragged his camera crew out to the remote north end of the largest sand island in the world to capture this stunning footage.
Fishing the marlin grounds off the top of Fraser Island can be a logistical nightmare. The distance involved and a lack of facilities means crews must prepare ahead and be completely self-sufficient -- including toting along a 1,000 liters of fuel.
Home sweet home! Camping on the beach at the top end of Fraser is all part of the adventure, and offers quick access to the fishing grounds. While this may be roughing it, if you make it out here, you'll get to enjoy it all under a bright night sky with millions of stars.
Hooking a marlin on the flats where the water is just a few meters deep introduces some new elements to the sport. The crew must watch the draft as the marlin run towards the beach!
Immature marlin ranging from around 15 to 30 kg (35 to 65 pounds) are prolific over the flats around the northern tip of Fraser Island every spring as the fish make their annual migration down Australia's east coast. Anglers willing to make the long trip are rewarded with truly unique scenes like this one.
Fraser Island juts out into the warm-water current like a wedge, and when the conditions are right the migrating marlin often end up wandering into the shallow sand flats from the nearby depths. This FishTrack <a href="" target="_blank">AVHRR Sea-Surface Temperature chart</a> with current overlay clearly shows where the warm-water current splits right at the tip of the island.
The Great Barrier Reef farther up the coast may produce much bigger fish, but only Fraser Island gives you the opportunity to scan the flats for marlin as you run along the shoreline.
Battling a leaping marlin on light spinning gear only adds to the fun. Here, Craig Rushby shows off a juvenile black marlin taken in less than six feet of water.
Marlin aren't the only game in town off Fraser Island. Anglers can pick a fight with giant trevally, mackerel, amberjacks and longtail tuna to boost the excitement and provide explosive action on light-tackle fishing outfits.
Stick-baiting for marlin is a tough gig elsewhere in the world, but with the inshore fishery at Fraser, sight-fishing and casting stickbaits to billfish is standard operating procedure. This marlin was the first ever caught on the new Halco C-gar lure!
These small marlin are fragile and often need a bit of TLC for a healthy release. Fortunately, being in chest-deep water allowed Al McGlashan to jump in and easily revive the fish.

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