Recfishwest game for GAMEX 2024

Gamex is one of Australia’s biggest game fishing tournaments. Recfishwest Operations Officer Levi De Boni, a keen game angler himself, was one of our Fishing for Science team attending this year’s event. Here, he reflects back on what was another magic Gamex.    

Last week I and fellow Recfishwest employee Sam Russell headed north for the highly anticipated 56th GAMEX fishing tournament held by the Exmouth Game Fishing Club (EGFC).

This year, the tournament saw 50 boats and over 200 competitors make the most of the superb weather to battle it out for over $150,000 worth of cash and prizes in 29 competition sections.

Of the 50 boats competing, 15 were fishing the species section while the billfish section dominated, with 35 boats all trying their luck out in the deep blue. We were at the event to run the Recfishwest Fishing for Science program supported by Woodside Energy each day at the weigh-in as well as to assist with the EGFC Santos Family Fun Day and SunSmart fishing clinic.

These activities were once again given great support from the club and local community, and the significant contribution they make to the event becomes more evident year after year.

While we had our work cut out for us with over 50 fish coming through the gantry for sampling, we were lucky enough to speak with people from all over WA who have travelled to participate in the tournament, as well as some fishers coming from as far as New Zealand to compete.

Find out more about our Fishing for Science program here.

Recfishwest’s Fishing for Science team comprised of Levi De Boni and Sam Russell collected more than 50 belly samples for future analysis from numerous fish species over the course of GAMEX thanks to the kind donations of local competitors.

It was a humbling experience talking to GAMEX veterans and learning from the wealth of knowledge they’d collected over many years fishing the tournament. Being able to talk about fishing issues, concerns and ideas with the Exmouth fishing community was a fantastic experience and just one of the many reasons why I love being part of the Recfishwest team.

We were also able to catch up with EGFC Events Manager Ben Knaggs. “Knaggsy” is one of the unsung heroes of the Exmouth and Gascoyne fishing scene and huge credit must go to him and the club for making GAMEX the stellar event it is.

He told us “GAMEX has been around pretty much as long as Exmouth has and it’s really become a fabric of the community. The last economic assessment we did for GAMEX back in 2016 showed it helps inject more than one million dollars into our regional economy. Given the growth of this great competition, it would be safe to assume that amount has increased significantly,” said Ben.

See what Knaggsy had to say in our GAMEX 2024 recap video below!

This year’s tournament saw the most billfish caught in over a decade, with nearly 500 billfish tags handed in throughout the course of the tournament.

These tags were dominated by black marlin, with a great range of sizes estimated from 10kg fish right up to 220kg. There were also many sailfish tagged as well as a few striped and blue marlin. The bycatch experienced by those offshore was also impressive, with multiple wahoo and yellowfin tuna nudging 20kg. Some fishers also reported good catches of dolphinfish on the FADs, with captures recorded as little as 24-hours after deployment, proving the value of deploying these devices prior to GAMEX in the future.

From a game fishing perspective, some of the most prestigious captures during the competition were the pending record claims. This included an Australian small fry dolphinfish record of 6.48kg caught on 1kg line by Dean Gates, an Australian small fry dolphinfish record of 4.16kg on 2kg line by Luke Mounsey, an Australian junior dolphinfish record of 7.90kg on 2kg line by Kalvin Gates and a Western Australian women’s black marlin record of 22.78kg caught on 3kg line by Nikki Sutton.

It is worth noting that we had the privilege of sampling Nikki’s impressive black marlin catch before filleting the fish and giving out fillets to the local community. Black marlin are known for their fast growth rates and this fish was estimated at under two years old.

On top of the economic value that GAMEX provides, it is obvious how important the event is to the local community. From a social standpoint, it’s a firm and hotly anticipated fixture in the Exmouth, regional, State-wide and national fishing calendar, bringing together like-minded people and teaching the younger generation the immense enjoyment and value that low impact sportfishing brings to regional communities.

All in all it was another great year of GAMEX, I’d like to extend a massive Recfishwest thanks to Knaggsy and the whole EGFC community for having us. We had a blast and I look forward to returning next year to see the great fishing continue and the tournament to continue to grow into the future.