A self-described “hand line yellow-belly fishing girl” from Gunnedah hooked the catch of a lifetime during a deep sea adventure in Port Macquarie.

Gunnedah local Cathy Riley could not believe her luck when she reeled in a prized black marlin.

“The adrenaline of it … I was shaking,” Cathy said.

“I had to keep reminding myself this was actually happening.

“It was so surreal.”

Cathy was competing in the prestigious Port Macquarie Golden Lure 40th anniversary fishing competition earlier this year.

She was asked by Mark Eveleigh to join him and his son Byron on their new boat Deep Intentions for the women’s and juniors fishing day.

“I had been out deep sea fishing before but this was this first time I’d been Marlin fishing,” Cathy said.

She said her maiden marlin catch took about 20 minutes to reel in – all under all her own steam. Competition rules stipulated no power assisted reels were permitted and no help from others on the boat was allowed either.

Cathy won the women’s runner-up trophy for her marlin catch.

Cathy was able to reel in the fish close to the boat on several occasions but was overpowered as the fish took off again in the opposite direction.

Eventually, she hauled in the prized marlin for a quick photo before it was released back into the ocean depths.

The catch won Cathy the runner-up trophy for her efforts as well as a few post-competition aches and pains.

“My arms were so sore the next day,” she said. “It felt like I’d been at the gym for hours.”

Although new to the Black Marlin fishing expeditions, Cathy said her early family fishing memories also hold a special place in her heart.

“I’ve always loved fishing since I was a little girl,” she said.

“I remember heading out in the ute with my father … putting the worm on the hook.”

The significance of the Marlin catch was not lost on the game fishing novice who described how some people have competed in the fishing tournament for 30 years and never caught a Marlin. But she jagged one on her first attempt and now also had the ink to prove it.

“I wanted to remember the moment so I got a tattoo on my wrist – a marlin,” she said.

Cath hoped to return for another shot at the golden lure title some day in the future.

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