Grand Slamming it at Nine!

Fishing with kids can be such a rewarding experience not just for them, for the proud parents! Al McGlashan had one such moment with his son recently. What an experience for all!

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Catching a marlin is pretty much the pinnacle for every single angler and why not they are spectacular to catch especially with their aerial displays, they are beautiful, fight hard and release really well. In Australia we have three species, namely black, blue and striped which are found right along the east and west coastlines. Catching one is an achievement but scoring multiple species is a real challenge while all three is the ultimate. Known as a grand slam, it is something all anglers dream about yet it is something achieved by very few.

In my view it’s a privilege just to catch one marlin, but to get all three species is as good as it gets especially in your home waters. Luckily in Australia marlin are prolific along the east and west coasts and there are a few places where it is possible to encounter all three from Exmouth in the west to the Gold Coast in Queensland. However it is NSW that is the home of grand slams, thanks to the East Australian Current, which creates a fertile environment for pelagics.


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Catching a black, blue and striped marlin is definitely on the cards for those that are willing to commit and do the hours as well a bit of lady luck to see it out. It usually takes years of hard work but if you put in the hours you will see the results, but how about I tell you that someone cracked it in a couple of months at just nine years of age!

Nine-year-old Cooper McGlashan started off his billfishing career with a black marlin off Port Stephens. Just a couple hours drive north of Sydney, Port Stephens is renowned for its marlin and on the 1st of January this year Coops kicked things off. It was the tail end of an amazing bite that saw us tally a few stripes and blacks on Strikezone, but for Coops catching his first black marlin triggered a passion like no other. Now I know I fish for a living but never have I seen eagerness like it, as soon as he hooked up and that black started leaping all over the place he was hooked big time.

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I am not one for forcing it on kids like you see on the sideline every Saturday morning at kids sport. If they are not keen then there is little point, instead I prefer to support and encourage. However with Coops it was the opposite and we had to try and hold him back. There was literally no stopping and suddenly he was nagging to go marlin fishing every single day rain, hail or shine. Luckily it was the holidays so a week later we were down the coast at Kiama marlin hunting again. Things started well and straight up we scored a double hook on striped marlin. Now despite the fact that the rest of the crew had driven all the way from Melbourne to catch a few billfish somehow Cooper got passed them and poached the rod. When a nine year old can get passed an adult to hook up a marlin that is beyond keen!

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Catching a double header is hard enough at the best of times, but when you have a kid on the rod suddenly things get complicated. Worse still he was on a Stella 30,000 spin outfit, which is definitely not kid friendly. The problem is that unlike a game outfit, which is easier to fight as the angler can be harnessed in, with a spin you simply have to hold it and hang on. We may have had our work cut out for us but that didn’t stop Coops who decided he needed to increase the drag and somehow got his striped marlin to the boat first, which he did!

With two species down he suddenly discovered an appetite for a blue marlin. However with one of the best inshore striped and black marlins bites in history he had to be content catching those for another month, talk about a tough life!

Now catching the smaller stripes and blacks is a whole lot easier when compared to the might of the much larger blue marlin. However fighting them is one thing, finding them can be even harder at times. Enigmatic in nature blues prefer to reside further offshore beyond the continental shelf in no mans land. They don’t stack up on the bait schools like the other two making them a much harder proposition to locate.

However if there is one thing Coops has its luck ands lots of it, and would you believe it we had a late season flush of hot water push down the coast bringing with it Sydney’s best run of blue marlin ever! Normally blue marlin in NSW are in the 160-240kg range, however this run of hot water brought with an unseasonal run of smaller blue marlin in the 80-120kg, which are slightly easier option to tackle, especially for a nine year old.

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So with some calm weather coming up Cooper somehow convinced his mum to give him a day off school to have crack at a blue. He picked the right day and we had three bites by lunchtime. Cooper was delegated last on strike since he was the smallest but after the first two fell off he was up and was hooked up in ten minutes!

There is nothing easy about blue marlin and they have a nasty habit of stripping hundreds of metres and then promptly falling off but Coops stayed tight. It took an hour in seas that were increasing and then finally he had his blue successfully sealing his grand slam!

Its ridiculous to think how hard I worked to get my billfish grand slam so many years ago, and I think I was almost as excited as he was to get it. The morale behind this story is not about proud parents boasting about their kids, instead its all about making the effort to get more kids out their fishing and fulfilling their fishy dreams. There is no two ways about it we need to get more kids out there experiencing the great outdoors and the amazing fishing we have on offer. Being outdoors with the family is so much better than playing video games and once you get them out there doing it they will be hooked big time!

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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