Fishing Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in search of grander black marlin or targeting blues and whites on light tackle off the Dominican Republic, Capt. Tim Richardson stays on the bite every season.
Two Boats, Half a World Apart
Capt. Tim Richardson’s 49-foot game boat Tradition has been a familiar sight on the Great Barrier Reef since 2005. He has won The Billfish Foundation’s prestigious Top Tagging Captain award for Pacific black marlin seven times, including an unbroken string of wins or ties for the award since 2010. But rather than focus on just the big blacks, a few years ago, Richardson elected to broaden his horizons (literally) and run a second charter operation in the fish-rich waters off the Dominican Republic. In 2013, his anglers released 33 blue marlin over the course of a hectic 11-day stretch of fishing.
What are the benefits and the challenges in running a two-boat operation halfway around the world from each other?
The main benefit is we can fish for longer than just a few months a year. The charter season in Cairns is shorter than it was 15 years ago, and you have only so many charter days available. I’ve fished the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean for the last few years on other boats, and I really wanted to do it on my own with the right equipment. This year, we’ll fish out of Casa de Campo from late February through April, then head to Cap Cana until early July. After that, we will take off and explore a few other places in the Caribbean in July and August, then head back home for our season here in Australia from mid-September through December. The biggest challenge is keeping the boats safe and secure. I’m fortunate here in Australia that Tradition is in a boatyard about an hour up the river, so we’re safe from the cyclones and storms. The other boat is in Puerto Rico right now. I have three or four good friends in each location who keep an eye on things and also take care of the cosmetic work and general upkeep.
So you’re going to be running a 48-foot G&S this year down in the Caribbean?
I’m really looking forward to that. She’s the old Sound Machine, renamed Chaser, but we’ll be fishing as Tradition Charters. Especially in the Dominican Republic, I am excited about having the G&S, which is one of the best game boats in the world. When you’re catching blues on fly and light tackle, many times the fish will come up and start tailing down-sea at 7 or 8 knots. If you can only do 6 knots in reverse, you can’t catch them quickly unless you go to heavier tackle. With this boat, we won’t have that problem — it’s the difference between a sports car and a race car.
You also have plans to explore some new areas this year
Things usually slow down late in the season in the Dominican Republic, so I’m heading down to fish through the British Virgin Islands and the Marlin Boulevard off St. Martin in July and August. We will also re-explore a few other places in the Caribbean where we’ve experienced some great marlin fishing in the last few years — I caught 10 blues in five hours off St. Lucia a few seasons ago fishing on Ambush. There are only a few local boats that fish down there in that part of the Caribbean on a regular basis, and there’s also no real international exposure. With the right people on board, I think that trip would be a lot of fun to do.
What advice can you offer on becoming a better angler?
Always watch your baits and teasers. If you can see the fish coming, you’ll catch a lot more. During the tournaments we fish in the Dominican Republic, if you’re not actively holding your rod and ready for a bite, you’re probably not going to win unless you get really lucky. Everyone should always have their eyes on the spread. Being able to spot that flash of color or see a fish coming into the spread is critical. And then don’t forget to just have fun. We all get jacked up from time to time, but there’s no sense yelling and screaming. Relax and enjoy your time on the water.
What are your thoughts on tagging and conservation?
Tagging does give a sense of finality to the catch — you can fight a fish for two hours and get a tag in or you could fight one for five minutes, get the leader on the rod and call it a catch. In addition to our tagging efforts, we’ve been involved in an interesting project collecting fin-clip samples for DNA testing on white marlin in the Caribbean.