During the 1970′s Cairns was put on the international map by big game fishermen. Before this the town was a sleepy fishing port and the only tourists were Australians who made the long trek north on a narrow sealed road we called The Crystal Highway (littered with broken car windscreens, one every 2 Km).
The story how black marlin were found as they spawned along the edge of the continental shelf is best told by the experts.
The changes to the town of Cairns between 1972 and 1982 were enormous. Free or very cheap vacant land given by the state government allowed international hotel’s and a resort at Port Douglas to be fast-tracked.
Today Cairns is the gateway to The Great Barrier Reef. Previously the major gateways had been further south.
In this collage are the boat skippers who went searching for big fish, Peter Bristow, Peter B Wright and Dennis ‘Brizakka’ Wallace.
When game fishing expert Captain Peter Bristow caught this tiny Long Nosed Spearfish off the Portuguese island of Madeira he described it as “the prettiest thing I have ever seen”. Peter has seen a lot of pretty fish too.
The day before he caught (tagged and released) a 700 pound relative, the first spearfish of the season.
Peter and his mates Peter Wright and Dennis Wallace were the original black marlin game fishing skippers who made Cairns, Queensland the prime big game fishing destination in the world.
Peter is 74 this year, (2011) and has 58 years experience with the sea. At present home is Madeira off Morocco. The ocean currents there bring whales, dolphin, tuna and bill-fish encounters described by experts as ‘extraordinary opportunities’ for both fishing and snorkeling.
While living at Cairns, Queensland, Peter Bristow played a significant part in sparking media interest which ultimately protected the unique family of potato cod that later became world famous.
Known as ‘The Cod Hole’ these fish are slowly leaving due to regulations that limit feeding them. Fish feeding situations unfortunately tend to ‘get out of hand’.
The problems began when pair of former moray eels died whilst being forcefully ‘relocated’. The move considered a necessity after a woman was seriously mauled by the largest eel, her arm requiring amputation.
The cod/grouper were also ‘keen feeders’. Diver Dale Chapman once having his whole head ‘mouthed’ by one of these grouper. (“The lights suddenly went out” said Dale).