By John McIntyre- January 2013.
The one hundred year anniversary of the first black marlin capture on rod and reel in the world, which was also the first rod and reel marlin capture in Australasia, will be remembered on Friday, February 8, 2013.
On February 8, 1913, Dr Mark Cowley Lidwill (1878-1968) of Strathfield, Sydney, landed a black marlin of approximately 70 lb. (32 kg) from a small Port Stephens launch operated by Mr Dick Waterson of Nelson Bay after a fight of 12 minutes on 21 thread cuttyhunk linen line. Dr Lidwill was a practising medical doctor with a busy office and surgery in Strathfield and he was, by all accounts, a remarkable and talented man.
The fish was iced down and shipped via the “SS Karuah” to Eastway Brothers, tackle retailers, of George Street North, Sydney, and after a period of public display on their premises, it was donated to the Australian Museum, Sydney.
The fish was skeletonised and eventually displayed in the Skeleton Gallery at the Museum, under the Register Number S1276- February 15, 1913- swordfish or spearfish (Tetrapterus indicus). It remains displayed in the Gallery to this day. The fish and its connections to Dr. Lidwll remained obscure until 1998, when the Newcastle and Port Stephens Game Fish Club historian Mr Peter Silcock conducted research into the capture. With the assistance of the museum’s Fish Collection Manager, Mr Mark McGrouther, Peter was able to identify the skeleton and establish beyond doubt, the provenance of the Lidwill marlin.
Dr Mark Lidwill was a leading light in the ranks of those first rod and reel pioneer salt water anglers and fished actively for most of his life and skippered his self- designed cruiser “Vialeen” for many years. He was amongst many other things, an inventor and a skilled metal worker. His medical expertise extended to the design and manufacture in 1910 of the Lidwill Inter-tracheal Anaesthetic Machine which remained in common use in operating theatres throughout Australia for more than 30 years.
As a consulting physician, Dr Lidwill became a specialist in cardiology and this resulted in the invention of the cardiac pacemaker- details of which were first published in 1929. His work on this device was not picked up commercially until the 1950’s, and in 1962 the Australian company, Telectronics Pty. Ltd. perfected the first implantable device.
Dr Mark C. Lidwill MD, FRACP, FFARACS (Hon), pioneer angler, inventor, physician, teacher and man of many parts, passed away in Sydney on April 26, 1968, aged 90 years.
In February, 2003, Mr David Litchfield, then President of the Newcastle and Port Stephens Game Fish Club dedicated the new installation on the public wharf at Nelson Bay, Port Stephens, as the “Dr. Mark Lidwill Game Fish Weighing Station.”
If you happen to be having a drink on the evening of February 8, 2013, raise your glass to a remarkable man and angler who led the way 100 years before. The full story of his life and the capture appeared in the February/ March 2002 edition of “Blue Water Boats and Sportsfishing”. (Copies are available from the writer on request).