Connie Laurie catches 850-pound marlin near Cooktown
LOCAL anglers have been left shaking their heads in admiration at an 85-year-old great grandmother who hauled in a massive 850-pound marlin near Cooktown.
With another group being delayed by the Qantas grounding, holidaymaker Connie Laurie was thrilled to squeeze in a day charter last Wednesday with Cairns-based Ross Finlayson Marlin Charters on board Top Shot.
Despite being a keen fisherwoman, Mrs Laurie had never before had the opportunity to take on the highly prized black marlin, the fastest fish in the sea.
She warmed up by catching a 12-pound mackerel as a bait fish, with Mr Finlayson impressed with her technique – especially as he had never hosted an 85 year old on his boat before.
But Mrs Laurie didn’t have much time to admire the marlin circling the boat – she soon got a pull and then began a short but intense battle of wills to bring the 850-pound beauty up to the boat.
"Only twice did I get lifted out of the seat when it made a run, but I was able to get it right up to the back of the boat before we released it," an excited Mrs Laurie said.
"It was just a magical sight to see this huge big fish jump out of the water."
Although Mrs Laurie now lives on the Gold Coast, she has close ties to the Far North – she attended Cairns High School from 1939 to 1947 and her parents, keen anglers, wrote the fishing tips for The Cairns Post during the same period.
"It’s something I’ve wanted to do all my life, to go out and fish for something big," she said. "I got my wish. It was absolutely fantastic and made my holiday."
A call-ahead from Mr Finlayson ensured that Mrs Laurie had a welcoming committee to cheer her on to the Cooktown wharf, with locals highly impressed by her exploits.
"I don’t even think I’d be game to take on a fish of that size," said one lure shop worker.
Bob Lowe, president of the Lizard Island Game Fish Club, said it was an amazing feat.
"It’s very unusual for a lady of that age to be able to catch a marlin of that size," he said.
"It comes down to technique – the skill of the angler and the skill of the boat driver combined – it’s definitely quite an achievement."
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Hooked on action: A determined Connie Laurie straps into the chair for battle with an 850-pound marlin off Cooktown. Picture: ROSS FINLAYSON MARLIN CHARTERS