The results form 2019 Tropicana Billfish Tournament proved world class Blue Marlin fishing exists right in our own backyard of New Britain Island.
The 2019 Tropicana Billfish Tournament held between 9-17 November 2019 in Kokopo, East New Britain was a huge success. The competition has been running for 21 years by Mr John Lau and Dame Sandra Lau, a family which have resided in Kokopo and Rabaul for over 50 years. The annual Tropicana Billfish Tournament (TBT) which was once created to encourage friends to Rabaul has grown to a Nationally renowned competition and after this years results, it is no doubt there will be more international anglers keen to join the competition.
(Image Credit Lachlan Seeto)
The TBT is held annually in mid November in Rabaul, East New Britain Papua New Guinea. The Province is renowned for volcanoes, scuba diving and for snorkeling sites, spectacular harbour and other scenery, World War II history, flora and fauna, and the cultural life of the Tolai people.
The Baia Sportfishing Team entered 2 teams on board the Ultimate One into the competition and had visiting teams on board from Port Moresby. The total competition had a record 11 boats, 96 anglers and 48 teams, a fantastic turnout that assisted in getting some world-class fishing catch and release results. The whole competition is based on catch and release only. Points are based on what kilo line class was used with some boats game enough to test the 8kg gear but proved too difficult when 7 hookups came off.
(Image Credit: Steve Phillips, Australian Angling)
Day 1 of the competition looked promising with already 17 blue marlin tagged and released across the teams. The fishing grounds were extremely close with many of the catches recorded between East New Britain and Duke of York Island only 40 minutes from Kokopo. Weather wise, was absolutely spectacular with maximum 8 knot wind speeds and swells barely 30cm high. Although we thought it may be tough to beat the 17 catches from the day before, the marlin just kept biting and fighting! With the second day at 30 catches and third day at 47 catches. Some boats experienced quadruple hookups, triple hookups and many double hookups.
A range of marlin lures were used throughout the competition including handmade lures by our competition organiser John Lau and Northern Territory Fisheries expert Wayne Baldwin. Lau Lures and Scurvy Dog lures of green, blue were eye catchers for the Blue Marlin.
There was plenty of top water Blue Marlin dancing! Check out these epic marlin images captured by Steve Phillips from Australian Angling.
(Image Credit: Steve Phillips (Australian Angling), Lachlan Seeto, Tiana Reimann)
The craziness of marlins dancing across each other proved not to be a challenge for the 72ft Ultimate One as it is easily maneuvered from the back controls, giving a perfect view of the action behind the boat. The increase in activity was most likely due to the lead up to the full moon phase coupled with excellent weather and current conditions. Bait fish were abundant in the straight with frigates circling in the air and pilot whales always there. Every aspect of each day was fishy!
Guests on board were keen as every to tackle with their very first Marlin. Anglers did extremely well getting into the rhythm. Many varieties of Marlin dances were choreographed by teams that successfully attracted the next hookup.
(Famous Marlin Dance by Ultimate One Crew)
Right after the marlin dance, a triple hook up!
(Anglers with their first Marlin)
Each night after the lines in, teams and anglers joined together for the stories of the day and enjoyed finger food provided by various sponsors on the night. As guests mingled on the Tropicanna Building rooftop bar, the warm coloured moon rises over the Nakanai mountain ranges and dark cumulus clouds, a sign the Full Moon phase has begun. The last 2 days of the comp was after the full moon. It is amazing how the marlin changed their feeding behaviour from that phase on. From 47 catches before full moon to 23 was expected but still did not stop the enjoyment of being on the water with the amazing weather conditions. (23 catches for a day still is very impressive!)
(Excellent weather conditions and beautiful scenery during the TBT competition.)
Through the hard work of each angler, their captains, deckies and teams, the TBT final results came into light with an astounding 245 Blue Marlin and 3 Sailfish caught over the 9 day competition. Prizes were offered to the highest scoring team, best female angler, best junior angler and most fish caught per boat. Fantastic prizes of iPhone 11 were offered along with Shimano and Maxel rods and reels. John Lau, is also an excellent lure maker and generously offered his handcrafted lures to all the boats involved with the competition.
(Lau Lures created by John Lau)
This truly was a historical moment for Game fishing in Papua New Guinea. The overall 9 day competition was an absolute success but this wouldn't have been possible without the hospitable nature of the Lau family and the Tropicanna team, the volunteers from the New Britain Game Fishing Club, visiting boats from Lae, Kimbe and Port Moresby and visiting anglers Nationally and Internationally.
AFTER THE COMPETITION - RABAUL & KOKOPO
The fun and exploring does not end at the TBT, there is so much to see and do while in the beautiful province of East New Britain. If you are into adventure the Mt Tavurvur volcano walk surely is a unique experience. If you are a avid diver and snorkeller, the Ultimate One can take you to the Beehives, which are 2 rocky pinnacles in Rabaul Harbour that feature an array of coral reef and fish species.
(A turtle encounter while snorkelling)
If you are interested in joining the Tropicanna Billfish Tournament in 2020, please contact us today! Baia Sportfishing offers much more than fishing. Explore the most amazing, pristine places of the Niugini Islands on board the Ultimate One. Consider a family trip of a lifetime with us at Baia Sportfishing PNG.