It's looking good this weekend for the East Coast Classic gamefishing tournament hosted by Newcastle Game Fishing Club.
Boasting over $70,000 in cash and prizes, the event is the final of the annual tournies in local waters and hopes are high that the season can end on a bang.
"We're looking at over 60 boats in total," Newcastle GFC secretary Scott Morris said.
"The current has backed off, the water looks good, it's been quiet but we're hoping the fish turn up.
"Once the marlin find the bait in the Newcastle Port Stephens area, I expect them to stay around quiet a while and it I wouldn't be surprised if we have a late marlin season."
Fishing kicks off Saturday and Sunday at 8am. Boats will be moving out through Newcastle Harbour from 6am to 8am both days, and coming back to port on the Saturday from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.
The presentation will be held Wednesday next week at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club.
As part of an initiative to encourage the next gen of game fishos, the East Coast Classic will host a NSW junior team made up of gun young anglers selected from around the state.
"The NSW Game Fishing Association has provided a 40ft Caribean boat, Nemo, from Broken Bay, and picked these four boys," Scott said.
"The idea is to put them with mentors and teach some techniques of game fishing under tournament conditions."
The team is: Tarj Newcombe (Kiama Game Fishing Club), Harley Menenghel (Canberra GFC), Ralph Chapman (Broken Bay GFC), James Dunn (Lake Macquarie GFC).
Graham Williams from NSW Game Fishing Association will looking after them.
Flick the switch
Unfortunately the marlin bite this year has been a little lacklustre, and the weather hasn't really helped.
The Central Coast tournament and Interclub both had to be cancelled this year due to inclement conditions.
Raging nor-easterlies and a raging current have been other factors affecting offshore fishing the season thus far.
But a few planets seem to be lining up this weekend.
As hoped, the big blow over the Interclub weekend did push warm water in closer to shore and the current has pulled up a bit on the Shelf.
Brent "Hammer" Hancock, owner of Tackle Power Port Stephens, reports the fishing in close this week has been encouraging.
"Been some really good fish," he said. "I was out last Friday and got a 21kg cobia fishing for marlin.
Definitely the warm water is there and the current has slowed down.
"The thing we're still missing is that high pressure and low pressure area between the water. We call it the fish highway and it attracts the bait which in turn brings the fish in to feed."
Brent said it's hard to predict how this weekend will fish, but the weather is going to be OK, and there is plenty of pelagic action about, although not marlin.
"We are getting lots of dolphin fish, long tail, that sort of thing," Brent said.
"We've all been hoping for that really good marlin bite but it just hasn't happened yet.
"But sometimes the fishing in April for striiped marlin can be sensational.
"I remember back in the late 1990s bait balls out on the shelf and guys getting 10 or 15 fish per boat.
"People who've come into the sport lately haven't seen it like it was back then, but it's not unheard of having a late marlin season."
Hammer reports local estuaries at Port Stephens are fishing well for flathead, whiting and the odd bonito and tailor in the bay.
"Looks like a trough line coming in this weekend so we might get a few storms come through through Saturday and Sunday," he said. "But generally it looks good."
Call for frames
The Department of Primary Industry's Research Angler Program needs fish frames from recreational fishers to help with the collection of data on mulloway, yellowtail kingfish, snapper, dusky flathead, tailor and black bream.
They're not after huge trophy fish. All legal length frames are wanted.
But they will send you a certificate with the age of the fish and an image of the fish's ear-bone (known as an 'otolith' which is used to determine the age of the fish).
Data collected will contribute toward ensuring continued quality recreational fishing opportunities for your favourite species into the future.
If you would like to find out more about the program or locations you can donate your frames, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 02 4916 3827 or visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/recreational/resources/fish-tagging/researchangler.
Don't forget entries for the 2019 Club Marine Trailer Boat Fishing Tournament being held April 5-7 at Port Stephens are open online at www.tbft.net.au.