Big Fish, Small Boats

Many anglers seem to think trailerboats are a disadvantage when it comes to catching big fish, preferring instead to adopt the theory bigger is better.

However I’m here to tell you that you will catch more big fish out of a small boat than you will out a cruiser and, better still, you’ll do it a lot cheaper. Sure, you will never get the comfort as you would expect in gameboat but the advantages of a smaller vessel far outweigh the luxury.

The adrenaline rush of hooking, battling and ultimately landing a big fish out of a trailer-boat is way more than a gameboat because you are so much closer to the action. The most important key to chasing gamefish, or any fish for that matter, is to fish where the fish are. It doesn’t matter whether you have the best boat, the fanciest tackle and the biggest sounder if you aren’t on the fish then you will catch zippo. Think about it it’s simply impossible to catch the fish if they aren’t there and this is where the trailerboat reigns supreme.

Following the bite

The currents are in a constant state of change and pelagics be it kingfish to marlin are always on the move. If you want to stay on the bite then you need to be prepared to move with the fish. I recently fished from my trailer boat Strikezone in Sydney on Monday, left that night for Jervis Bay, then Batemans Bay and finally Bermagui then home again on Saturday. That’s a lot of traveling but we caught a heap of marlin and cracked some in-sane images making it all worthwhile.

This maybe a bit hardcore, but what I am highlighting here is the fact that you can move on a whim. If the bite shuts down in one spot you can pack up camp and shift to wherever the fish have gone. Bigger cruisers are heavily restricted to major ports and can not travel up and down the coast easily, in fact it is a serious logistical nightmare. A big boat needs more crew, more money and lots more fuel to shift camp and on top of this is restricted to ports. What I love most about trailerboating is the freedom to move and follow the bite up and down the coast. If you are prepared to move you will crack some sensational fishing.

Fishing smart

Trailerboats have come a long way in recent years and now boats like my six metre Evolu-tion with a 250HP Yamaha is a serious weapon and can handle the weather. While we may not have the comfort levels the bigger boats offer, with some clever planning you can still make your days’ fishing very comfortable.

First and foremost you need to understand the weather it is critical in dictating a day on the water. The beauty of modern technology is that we are no longer restricted just to the weather report on the nightly news. Instead we have access to multiple weather reports that offer constant and largely accurate reports on the web. Don’t watch just one, instead I have found the best option is to monitor multiple sites which will give you a broader picture of what the weather is doing.

One trick I employ is to look at the national four-day forecast paying particular interest to any high pressure systems that are approaching. An area of high pressure will bring set-tled conditions and that means calmer weather.

However it doesn’t have to be dead calm to go fishing either, wind direction is also really important.

A following sea is what we want – this is a whole lot better than having to punch into it. What’s even worse is when the current and wind are opposing makes for very sharp seas and downright miserable conditions if you have head straight into them. When the weather is rough I try and plan my days to work in with the prevailing conditions. For example during the summer months in NSW we generally get nice, calm mornings but in the afternoon the prevailing northeaster kicks into gear. With this in mind I always try to work my way north while its calm so that I can come home with the sea.

Alternately if a southerly is due I will sometimes launch out of a port to the south of the fishing grounds so I can fish north to the grounds, then get someone to move the trailer back up so I can continue north and come home with the sea as well. This certainly makes the logistics a bit more complex and I am often in debt to Rach (with a month of washing the dishes) but it means I can mix with the big boys when all the other trailerboats are forced home.


You can do anything out of a trailerboat – you just need to plan ahead. The problem is we don’t have the room the big boys have so we need to really refine our techniques and carry only what we really need.

For example when it comes to tackle we don’t need to fill every single rod holder with an outfit. This is a terrible habit some anglers insist on doing so they can be prepared for every situation but in the process they clutter up the boat so it looks like a porcupine that causes more grief than good.

When I am chasing big fish like tuna and marlin I take 3 to 4 game rods (24 and 37kg) as well as a couple heavy duty Stellas which can be used as pitch baits or bait rods (yes, they are absurdly expensive bait rods!). At the end of the day I only take what I am planning to use.

On Strikezone I would like to troll a maximum of four rods when chasing tuna or exploring new ground. Alternately if big blue marlin are on the menu then I actually cut down to just 2 or 3 rods The reasoning behind this is because with a maximum of four people on board why would I ever run more rods, because someone has to wind them in. Imagine trying to chase a huge tuna or marlin but critical time is wasted winding in multiple rods. When it comes to big fish we really only want one to hook up and even then the whole crew with have their hands full, someone has to drive on it, someone has to wire it and someone else needs to actually fight it, while I take the photos. Beating big fish

It is commonly thought that big boats are better for chasing down big fish. Certainly big gameboats have twin engines and can spin around with ease, but the fact remains you are still pushing several tons of boat about. A trailerboat is lighter and much faster with much better power to weight ratio so it is much more manoeuvrable. However the key to running a fish down fast is a good skipper who knows his boat and most importantly can read this fish’s movements.

Marlin are a classic example and with a tendency to stay near the surface where they can caught faster with a boat that is reactive and responsive to the fish’s actions. If a fish goes down don’t sit on top of it instead drive in front of it and plan it up. By changing the angle of pressure the fish will react instantly and, in the case of marlin and big bluefin, that often means coming straight to the surface where you can get a shot at them.

With a bit of practice you’ll arrive bang on top of the fish as they surface and the look on their faces is priceless!

Al McGlashan

About Al McGlashan

Al McGlashan is one of Australia’s best-known fishos and has built a reputation on catching some of the nation’s biggest fish. A father of two, Al spends more than 200 days a year on the water. He doesn’t take the easy route on charter boats, instead getting out there and doing it all himself on a trailer boat just like 5-million other Aussie anglers.

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