First-Time Australian Kayak Marlin
By Mike Stevens
Four years ago, Tommie Strydom heard a kayaker had tangled with a marlin. It fired his imagination. Ever since, the New South Wales, Australia local had worked to earn his own billfish duel. Recently, his wish came true. To Strydom, it was "pleasant surprise."
Strydom caught the battle on his action cameras. After a few photos, he and a friend on a second kayak revived the marlin, then let it swim free.
"We are lucky to have a huge variety of fish we can target," said the 39-year-old dentist. "During the winter months we mainly target cold-water fish like snapper, yellowtail, kingfish, Australian salmon, tailor and sampson fish. But during the summer and early autumn months, we have the warm water from the tropical north that moves down the coast and with it come Spanish mackerel, spotted mackerel, longtail tuna, yellowfin tuna , wahoo, cobia and marlin."
Strydom fishes a carbon/Kevlar 495 Evolution kayak by Stealth and imported to his homeland by Australian Kayak Specialists. He's installed extra rod holders, a Humminbird 581 GPS/fish, upgraded hatches, and a mount for the GoPro camera that brought us this video.
"I like to keep everything as basic and simple as possible, less to break or go wrong. My kayak has a huge internal hatch that can accommodate all my fishing gear, something that’s imperative with the inevitable surf launches and returns we have to make," Strydom added.
A native of South Africa, Strydom paired a Daiwa Saltist reel loaded with 50-pound braid to 400pound fluorocarbon with an Ugly Stik rod to take down this marlin —his first by any vessel. The rig was topped off by a 3/0 live bait hook with a treble stinger and a bridle-hooked bonito.
While all of Strydom's kayak fishing is done offshore, he indicated that his area also features rivers, creeks and estuaries for those in need of an inshore fix, or when ocean conditions are less than accommodating.
"With the very mild climate of the mid north coast we are able to fish year around, said Strydom. "The worst months for fishing are July and August as the fish just shut down for winter, but fortunately, we have the whale migration north that time of the year. It’s truly humbling to be able to get close to these magnificent gentle giants."