On the 8th of February 1913, Dr Mark Cowley Lidwill (1878-1969) became the first angler to catch a black marlin (Tetrapterus Indicus) with a rod and reel.

The marlin, weighing approximately 32kg (70lbs), was caught 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.

SS Karuah

The fish was preserved in ice and shipped via the “SS Karuah” back to Sydney andeventually donated to the Australian Museum in Sydney, where it was skeletonised and displayed.

The bones of Dr. Mark Lidwill’s black marlin. Photograph courtesy of the Australian Museum Archives.

Dr Mark Lidwill Photograph courtesy of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

Dick Waterson. Dr Lidwill’s boatman pictured with the Black Marlin.


Dr Lidwill is most famous as a medical pioneer in cardiology and anaesthesiology


He invented the cardiac pacemaker, a medical device that generates electrical impulses to cause the heart muscle to pump blood when the normal heart function needs to be regulated or replaced.

Lidwill’s invention has saved innumerable lives and is considered amongst the most important Australian inventions that have changed the world.

Besides being a medical pioneer Dr Lidwill was also a pioneer fisherman and a leader in the ranks of the first rod and reel salt-water anglers attracted to Port Stephens and its renowned game fishing opportunities.

The fishing grounds 20 miles off the coast of Port Stephens and Newcastle come alive in the first quarter of each year when black, blue and striped marlin migrate south to these grounds on the continental shelf.

Tagging Black Marlin

Black marlin can grow to a maximum length of 5 metres and can weigh over 700 kilograms. Department of Primary Industries tag black marlin and research sustainability as part of their Game Fish Tagging Program which is supported by the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust and the thousands of anglers, club officials, captains and crew who participate in the Program.

In February 2003 the Newcastle and Port Stephens Game Fish Club dedicated the game fishing weigh station installed on the public wharf at Nelson Bay Port Stephens as the “Dr Mark Lidwill Game Fish Weighing Station”.