In this installment of Insane Installs, we caress the helm of Jason Wilhelm’s Edgewater 245CC and pop our eyeballs on his insane Simrad fit-out. And it would be rude not to have a crack at a blue marlin while we’re at it.
Back in the day, Jason Wilhelm was a renowned barra guide, consistently getting punters onto 1m barramundi at Lake Awoonga in Queensland. These days he patrols the offshore grounds in his tricked out Edgewater 245CC, hunting macks, mahi and marlin. However, his pet passion is subduing blue marlin.
Jason heard about our fondness for the big blue and shot us a text message. “Hey Cap’n, there’s a high probability of a blue or two off Tweed tomorrow – best conditions we’ve had in three months.” This was followed by an SST screenshot of some seriously good-looking water eddying bigtime off the continental shelf, east of the Gold Coast. “Where? What time? We’ll be there!” The Captain responded. Hooks were sharpened, lure rolls dusted, and we were off!
WELTERWEIGHT VS HEAVYWEIGHT
It was a moonless morning when Jason pulled up alongside the dock. Behind the helm he was glowing like he was inside a tanning solarium, the orange hues of three massive Simrad NSS12 evo2s beaming onto his face. Also onboard, keen to pop his billfish cherry, was Kris George, a welterweight boxer currently ranked No.1 in Australia. If there was a blue going on, this is the bloke you’d want in your corner.
It was one of those days – not a breath of wind or roll of swell. We steamed all the way to the shelf on autopilot without touching the throttle or steering wheel. Arriving at the mark, Jason set a spread of big blue marlin lures on Tiagra 50Ws as well as a couple of ’fin lures on the Stella 30000s. It was right on tide change when the short corner went off. The 50W howled for a couple of seconds before the fish dropped the lure. Everyone went quiet. Then, whack! The braid on the long rigger was ripped from the clip with an aggressive bill blow. Jason and Kris rushed to the ’rigger to clip the Stella back in, but as they were both holding the braid, the fish nailed the lure again ripping the line from their hands. Fortunately nobody lost any fingers.
After some big frothy charges across the top, the big blue found its groove down deep. Kris left nothing in the tank trying to muscle the stubborn billfish to the surface on the locked-up spinning reel, but the fight dragged on. One hour, two hours, three hours – the fish dragging us 11km south-east into 1,200m of water. We finally got a shot at him at the three-hour, 20-minute mark. Jason jumped on the trace and wrestled with the fish, which was still green. The 150kg blue bucked and came up, but wide of the gunwales. Then it arced toward the transom. Kris had nothing to give, so Jason barked, “It’s blue or bust this time!” while tugging on the leader as hard as he could. Suddenly the leader popped and the big blue slipped back into the deeppurple water. Although disappointed, Kris was also relieved that this bluewater standoff had finally come to an end.
When it comes to finding and catching blues, Jason says the most important aspect is data, “If you want to go and do the needle in the haystack, hoping for the best, then yeah, you’ll at some point catch a fish. But the data we (he and his oceanographer mates) compiled over the past four days to catch this fish was extensive. I was certain we were going to catch a blue marlin. The area we fished today was the only still tongue of water in the whole region – it was the only area a fish could rest and feed.”
Having awesome data is useless without awesome electronics, and Jason’s rig is seriously kitted-out. He’s got triple NSS12 evo2s, which take up a major chunk of real estate on the dash, and run sonar, charts and radar independently. He plans to switch to evo3s once stock hits Aussie shores. Behind the scenes he runs a BSM-3 and under the hull you’ll find two through-hull transducers – an Airmar Low CHIRP B175L and a B175H-W.
It’s also the first boat that Jason has owned that features autopilot – and he’s seriously smitten. The Simrad Continuum autopilot system connects to a 4.1-inch full-colour AP44 controller, which has a handy little rotary dial, great for making millimetre-perfect bearing changes. Speaking of gauges, Jason also runs an IS42 that allows you to view speed, depth, engine data from the Honda BF250 and autopilot status. One thing that blew The Captain away was the Simrad HALO-3 Pulse Compression Radar System. It is, by far the best radar he’s ever seen on a trailer boat. This baby was marking other boats, fads and even birds many miles past eyesight range. Not that The Captain was checking the radar at the time, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it even marked up the jumping blue marlin!