This week has been all about marlin, according to Brent "Hammer" Hancock, from Tackle World Port Stephens, which is great news as the Hunter gamefishing tournaments get ready to roll through February.
"The inshore bite kicked off last weekend," Brent said.
"Water pushed in and it's been a really good start for our black and striped marlin seasons.
"Charter boats Calypso and Fishing Adventures got blacks and really nice stripes this week, as did a swag of local boats.
"Glaucous got eight or nine on Sunday, Wild Thing got eight on Sunday. A bunch of other guys got two, three and four fish, and I know boats today have got fish as well.
"Plenty of bait, plenty of fish and a good mixture of size from 40kg up to 90kg on inshore reefs.
"The big thing to watch is these hard northerly winds over the weekend.
"They can roll the water over so it will be a case of having a look Monday and see how it goes.
"The good news after that is that there are southerlies predicted, which push that warm water back in."
Brent reports inshore reefs are also holding a good mix of trag, jew, pearl perch and mahi mahi.
"Believe it or not, the FADs are not producting dolphin fish but the inshore reefs are - fish up to 8kg and 9kg, which is always a great return."
"Local beaches are producing heaps of whiting and the odd good tailor and jew after dark.
"Plenty of good flathead and whiting in the bay."
Big Fish joy
News of the marlin bite is music to Lake Macquarie Gamefishing Club president Alan Holl's ears as he gets thing ready for the Big Fish Bonanza which runs next weekend February 8-9.
"It's all coming together nicely on the fishing front and behind the scenes the sponsors are lining up too," Alan said.
Many gamefishos use the Big Fish as preparation for the big money Garmin Shootout (February 14-16), Interclub (February 20-23) and East Coast Classic (March 7-8) tournaments which round out the Hunter calendar through February and March.
"Anglers like to get an idea where the fish might be, or where they think they might be," Alan said.
"We're receiving entries for the Big Fish right up to Friday, February 7.
"The dream scenario is we get conditions like 2012 where over 200 marlin were tagged and released."
Anglers will compete across a range of categories with all eyes on the glamour capture and tag and release events, with $2.5k on offer for the heaviest marlin over 250kg and shark over 365kg.
"If we get enough numbers there will also be an additional $5k on offer for the heaviest marlin," said Alan, who expects somewhere between 40 to 50 boats and upwards of 200 anglers to compete.
The briefing for this year's tournament will be held at Belmont Golf Club on Friday, February 7.
Competition runs Saturday and Sunday, 7am-5pm each day, with the weigh station open from about 4pm each day.
"The public are always welcome to view because it is a bit of a spectacle with all the big boats gathered and the sponsors on show," Alan said.
The presentation will be held the following Wednesday, meaning there is no pressure to get back to base on the Sunday.
"We don't have a cut-off time like some other tournaments," Alan said.
"If you hook up say ten to five on Sunday afternoon you can fight that fish until Monday if you like."
Jew fish gun Jesse Dedman reports a noticeable surge in mullloway movement in Newcastle Harbour following recent rains.
"I had a go early this week and got about six or seven - all soapies, with the biggest around the 75cm mark, which we tagged and released," Jesse said.
"I reckon the flush helped because numbers seemed up."
Jesse is a big rap on Samaki Vibes when it comes to jew fishing but at $20 a pop, it can be an expensive habit.
"Squidgy slick rigs go all right too, anything from 90mm up to 150mm with a paddle tail seems to excite them."
Jesse is also the lead man on "newy.fishin" a local fishing website with Instagram and Facebook presence under the same name.
Newy.fishin is getting ready to add YouTube to the social media output.
"We've just shelled out on a couple of GoPros and we've got plans in the pipeline to create regular tutorial and action-type video content to complement the pics and reports that already feature on Newy.fishin," Jesse said.
The annual Bulahdelah Bass Bash also runs next weekend, February 8-9, with prizes for biggest eel and bass on offer.
Festivities kick off with the annual Bass Bash Ball on the Friday night.
For more info contact Darren Carroll on 0419 996 930.