In this short Q&A session, we interview tournament Michael Bonnici to get his viewpoints on how to catch marlin during the season. Read on below to get a few insights on how to set-up your marine electronics equipment, what settings to run on your Simrad sounder, and why he prefers livebaiting to trolling lures.
Could you describe a ‘session to remember’ on inshore marlin?
For me it was probably back in 2013/14 were we had a massive run of blacks inshore, most were small around 20-30kg although there were a few bigger fish thrown in. We were based on the Mid North Coast and caught around 30 in the two weeks we were there. We also managed two sail fish which was a massive bonus.
What species of marlin do you target on the east coast, and what is their seasonal availability?
Inshore your main target is blacks but stripes will also come in close when the water is nice. I prefer to live bait for them but in saying that I have caught a heap trolling lures also.
What boat and marine electronics setup are you running?
I have two Sea Devils, a 620 and 520CC. I use the 520 when I'm going out for an arvo or a few hours and the 620 for full days or traveling up and down the coast.
In the 520 I run a Simrad NSS-12 Evo2 with a 50/200khz HDI transducer. It is a simple setup but works great. The 620 on the overhand has the Simrad works, NSS- 12 Evo2, S2016 Fish Finder, BSM-3, 4G Radar and a TM275hlw.
How do you use your Simrad marine electronics, from chart plotter and multiple chirp frequencies, to identify areas to target marlin?
Inshore blacks hang where there is bait. They will often sit off it but move in to feed throughout the day. I use my Simrad to locate bait mostly (and marlin of course!). The integrated chartplotter in the NSS is useful for finding ledges and reefs where bait will hand or an upwelling may be created.
What would be your word of advice to someone attempting to target their first marlin from a trailerboat?
Inshore blacks can show up anywhere, depth is not a concern. The last five blacks I’ve caught have been in less than 40m. Trolling lures can be effective but the hookup rate is 50/50. Livebaiting with circlehooks gives you a much better chance of connecting with a fish.