The Comeback Kid

Goshie tells us the story of a fisherman Mark Bloomfield and his comeback to fishing. This could be anyone of us fishos who have had to take a break from the sport we love. The moral of the story is that it’s NEVER to late to get back into it!

As dedicated land based game anglers we all take our own individual path in the quest of chasing large pelagic gamefish from the rocks. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to cross paths with a keen rock hopper by the name of Mark “Bloomey” Bloomfield who has experienced a really unique LBG journey over the past 31 years.

Mark began his LBG career as a fresh faced 16 year old way back in 1985 and he spent more than a decade chasing large gamefish like marlin, yellowfin tuna, cobia, kingfish and longtail tuna from the rocks. Unfortunately the constraints of a busy lifestyle finally caught up with Mark at the age of 30 and like many of the great anglers before him his LBG career had come to an abrupt end.

After a 14 year absence from the sport most LBG anglers will often move into the less demanding world of boat fishing or simply fade into obscurity never to be seen on the rocks again, however this dedicated angler has put in some hard yards and has made one of the greatest comebacks in LBG history. This is the story of land based gamefishing’s comeback kid.

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The Early Years

Like most LBG anglers growing up around Sydney’s northern beaches Mark served his LBG apprenticeship at the famous Ovens Platform at the southern end of Whale Beach. Mark fished this iconic sandstone platform after school with his partner in crime Russell Smart throughout the mid eighties. During this time Mark and Russell live baited with yellowtail scads and spun small metal slugs from the rocks and landed plenty of jewfish, bonito, rat kings, Aussie salmon and mackerel tuna. By this time Mark had fish on his brain 24/7 and even worked part time at the local tackle shop Bohm Bait and Tackle at Narrabeen.

NSW North and South Coast

During their time fishing the ledges along the northern beaches Mark and Russell met two of the finest LBG anglers from that generation, Mark and Brett Deeney. The experienced Deeney brothers shared plenty of their knowledge about tackling monster fish from the stones to these young LBG grommets. It wasn’t long before Mark and Russell ventured out of Sydney to take on larger pelagic predators from the well known ledges of the NSW north coast and south coast.

Mark remembers one of his first trips to Tomaree Head at Port Stephens with Alan “grub” Crawford. During this trip he fished alongside LBG greats like Grantly Gray and Mike Ball and had an insane run of longtail tuna. The boys had plenty of multiple hook ups and landed plenty of big longtails. The biggest fish was landed by Grantly Gray and massive longtail pulled the scales down to 29kgs.

In October 1989 Mark landed his most memorable capture from the rocks, a 31.5kg yellowfin tuna from Big Beecroft at Jervis Bay. This fish was hooked on a live yakka on 15kg line and took a screaming 200m run. After a tough 40min battle where the fish arched up and down the ledge numerous times, Mark was able to bring the tuna to the gaff and secured a highly prized yellowfin tuna.

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The Epic Day at The Ovens

Another memorable day on the stones that Bloomey clearly recalls, is the epic day he experienced at the Ovens in March 1999 with fellow northern beaches angler Chris Hack. The day started extremely well with two longtail tuna taken by another crew early in the morning. Not long after Chris Hack scored an unusual by-catch 6kg samsonfish on a live bait and Mark also nailed his first cobia from the rocks which weighed 8kgs. The warm currents must have been pushing hard up against the rocks and at around 10am, Mark’s Penn International ticked over slowly and the boys were on again. Mark set the hook and a rampaging black marlin around the 80kg mark suddenly breached out of the water. Mark fought the fish for around 20mins and had the big billfish well under control on 15kg tackle. During the final stages of the battle the marlin unfortunately jumped on the mainline and the fish won its freedom. To experience this insane LBG action from his backyard was a major highlight for Mark.

The Constraints of a Busy Life

While Mark was fishing the rocks he also took his father’s advice and completed an Advanced Building Certificate in 1999. He also met his wife Shelley in the same year and followed her to Melbourne where the LBG scene is almost nonexistent. Mark eventually started his own business as a licensed builder and after two years he moved back to Sydney. Although Bloomey had returned to the LBG ledges he grew up fishing he was now running his own successful business, building his own house and also raising three beautiful daughters. The glory days spent on the ledge with buckled rods and screaming drags were starting to become a distant memory for Mark.

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The Changing World of LBG

In 2014, which was around 14 years after his last major LBG trip, Mark ventured down to The Outer Torpedo Tubes platform in Jervis Bay after hearing about a sensational run of black marlin. Bloomey was astonished at the way the sport had evolved. There was no more bucketing water to keep baits alive, this was now done by petrol powered bilge pumps. There were now 30plus people on the ledge looking for a shot at an elusive black marlin from the stones instead of a handful of hopefuls like yesteryear.

The changes didn’t stop here as many of the top anglers were now flying to ledges in Queensland and Western Australia and the growing world of LBG had vastly expanded into many more countries. Bloomey’s jaw nearly hit the ground when he realised that he needed to spend around $2000 for a spinfishing outfit just to get back in the game. To adjust to the modern era of LBG, Mark had to learn how to use braid for the first time and familiarise himself with all the fancy new knots and connections.

The Comeback

It is often said that fishing the rocks is a lifestyle that gets into your blood and for those dedicated LBG anglers the thrill of chasing big gamefish from the rocks never leaves your system. Mark told me that he never gave up on LBG and that he would always return to the rocks one day to finish the quest he started three decades ago.

Mark returned to the rocks in 0ctober 2014 when he visited the Catwalk at 1770 which is one of the most popular spinfishing ledges on the central Queensland Coast. During this trip Mark landed an 8kg longtail tuna on a Surecatch Knight and this fish ignited one of the greatest comebacks in LBG history.

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The following year Mark returned to the Catwalk and landed a few more longtail tuna and also nailed an impressive 18kg GT. This fish scoffed down a Flasha spoon only metres from the rocks in a classic low tide change bite. This fish peeled over 200m of 50lb braid and had Mark’s line dangerously close to touching the rocks on numerous occasions before he was able to secure the prized capture.

In March 2016 Bloomey took advantage of one the best inshore runs of black marlin and landed a 35kg fish from the Tubes platform at Jervis Bay. Although this fish wasn’t the biggest marlin off the rocks and only took 10mins to subdue using 24kg tackle, any billfish captured from the shore is considered an extremely worthwhile capture.

After finally realising his dream of catching a marlin off the rocks after 31 years, Mark is still fishing the rocks like a man possessed. He still thinks about fishing the rocks everyday and never shy’s away from any new challenges. On a recent trip to 1770 Mark landed his first Spanish mackerel with one of his favourite lures the “green goblin” Mack Bait. Bloomey hopes to visit the Wild Western Australian coast in the near future and try his hand at some new techniques like gas ballooning.

Mark Bloomfield’s comeback to LBG is an inspiring tale of a keen angler who never gave up on his passion; it goes to show that it’s never too late to catch that fish that dreams are made of!

That’s all.

Goshie

About Goshie

Goshie has been targeting large pelagic gamefish from the ocean rocks for over 16 years and is one of the most experienced LBG anglers in Australia. This keen rockhopper began his LBG career in the late nineties by chasing smaller pelagics such as bonito, rat kings and Aussie salmon from the sandstone ledges in his hometown of Sydney.

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