Extreme sportfish catches recorded at GAMEX 2023

With 237 tag-and-released billfish, including 161 black marlin, 68 sailfish and two pending State and national queenfish and spangled emperor records — the 55th GAMEX fishing tournament once again lived up to its reputation as one of the premier fishing competitions in Australia! 

A healthy contingent of 245 avid competitors on 58 boats flocked to Exmouth from across the State between 17-25 March, with Recfishwest researchers also in attendance to collect vital species data for our Fishing for Science program and to coordinate a fishing clinic for dozens of excited kids. 

A smorgasbord of point-scoring species were weighed in across the comp, including Spanish mackerel, shark mackerel, school mackerel, queenfish, golden trevally, cobia, dolphinfish, yellowfin tuna, striped tuna, wahoo, barracuda and spangled emperor. 

From these captures are two pending records, both from the same angler in Luke Mounsey, who landed a 5.16kg queenfish on 4kg line — a pending Western Australian Male Small Fry record — and a 2.24kg spangled emperor on 1kg line — a pending National Male Small Fry record. 

68 sailfish in total were tagged and released across GAMEX, including this stunning electric-blue fish by Chris Tanti.

Not only does GAMEX produce some of the best catches of any fishing tournament in the land — but it also had the most impressive booty of prizes up for grabs which included a $50,000 Northbank trailerboat package draw for one lucky competitor, fuelling fantastic fishing and fierce competition across the tournament.  

The team aboard Fatal Attraction enjoyed a fantastic tournament, winning a range of categories including the Overall Capture/Tag & Release category with 11 species across 11 line classes landed, Matt Gates winning Champion Male Angler with nine species across 10 line classes, along with their crew member Dean Gates winning Champion Small Fry Angler.  

Bri Bollard aboard Dickens Cider claimed the Champion Female Angler title for five species across eight line classes, with Jessica Hournhardt winning Champion Junior Angler (16yrs/U) of five species across eight line classes and Luke Mounsey winning Champion Small Fry Angler (11yrs/U) with three species across four line classes.   

Bri Bollard had a cracker of a tournament, taking out the Champion Female Angler title for five species across eight line classes.

With over $1 million pumped into the Exmouth regional economy each year from GAMEX visitors thanks to the hard-fighting and abundant fish species on offer, it’s clear how important fishing tournaments like GAMEX are to regional towns across Western Australia.  

Ben Knaggs, Club Manager of the Exmouth Game Fishing Club (EGFC), said it is the most highly anticipated fishing event on the calendar each year for Exmouth and it has been part of the fabric of the town for over half a century. 

“GAMEX is a highly important milestone on the social calendar each year, particularly for mad-keen fishers. Economically, it has a huge part to play each year and it marks the start of the tourist season around Exmouth, which forms the foundations of the livelihoods of many businesses in the region,” said Ben.  

“There is such a wide variety of species on offer during the competition and it showcases the fishing in Exmouth on a national and international perspective. It puts the spotlight on Exmouth as the world-class sportfishing destination it is.”  

Thanks to the kind fishers who let Recfishwest Operations Officers Sam Russell and Levi De Boni sample their catches, they were able to collect data from loads of fish during the Exmouth Game Fishing Club-held (EGFC) comp. 

Data collected included weight, length, condition, sex and maturity stage, while tissue samples from each fish’s belly were also taken for future research. 

“Thanks again to the EGFC and its weigh-in committee for the help throughout this year’s GAMEX and for supporting Fishing for Science, along with all fishers who let us sample the fish that they caught – you’ve helped collect valuable data regarding important recreational species,” said Sam.   

“Our fishing clinic was also a great success for the youngsters, we had dozens of kids landing some impressive catches that are highly abundant and easily accessible year-round from the Exmouth marina. This region is always rewarding when it comes to teaching kids about sustainability and catching fish.” 

Recfishwest’s Operations Officers Sam Russell (pictured left) and Levi De Boni were kept busy baiting lines and unhooking great catches for dozens of kids during the recent Exmouth fishing clinics!

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