Recreational fishing and tackle stores remain open for business amid the coronavirus crisis but anglers are being urged to act responsibly.
David Ciaravolo, CEO of the Amateur Fishermen's Association of the Northern Territory, put together a list of guidelines for fisherman to adhere to in the rapidly changing landscape.
- Only fish with one other person, if anyone.
- Maintain spatial distancing of 1.5 metres from other people.
- Fish alone, with a family member, or with household members only.
- Do not gather to go fishing.
- Do not congregate at land-based fishing locations if distancing cannot be maintained, instead look for safe alternatives.
- Do not go fishing if you are in quarantine.
- If you are unwell, you must self-isolate, do not go fishing if self-isolating.
Common sense, I know, but as we've seen, it's not always that common.
Tackle stores remain open but some are preparing for what seems inevitable closures as restrictions expand.
Jason "One For" Nunn, from Fisherman's Warehouse at Marks Point, said: "There's every chance that come Friday night we might all be having a temporary holiday, but I've spoken to a lot of people this week and if we're able to, we'll offer home delivery a couple of times a week and see how that goes."
Nunn said his store had mapped out borderlines on the floor to reinforce social distancing. He said customers had been stocking up on bait and gear because they were concerned about shops closing.
With more and more people having free time because of the shutdowns, fishing has become an escape for many.
And ideal weather last weekend encouraged a strong presence at popular fishing spots.
"The weather was magnificent and people just flocked to the water," Nunn said.
"The Swansea channel area on the fringe of the lake, up towards Marks Point, it was probably the busiest I've seen it since Boxing Day.
"Everyone took advantage of the situation and boat ramps were packed."
He said catches were hit and miss through the day.
"At this time of the year, I've found if you are fishing an estuary, the latter part of the day and into the evening is the more productive time," he said.
"But I think a lot of guys just went out there to get out of home, forget about what's going on and if they caught a fish, it was a bonus."
He said bream, flathead, tailor and jew catches had been highlights on the local beaches and Lake Macquarie. Whiting were still about but Nunn expected those numbers to tail off.
"Whiting have been fished hard since September and you will see numbers dwindle, but you will still get them on the beaches and breakwaters," he said.
"There's a lot of jewfish coming off the beaches but there are a lot of undersized ones. A jewfish needs to be 70cm to be legal and it's one per person, people to remember that."
Offshore, he said bonito and yellow fin tuna were all the rage.
"A lot of guys are fishing in close with floating baits and they are four kilo or better some of these bonito. They are floating with pilchards, down a burley trail.
"Bonito have been treated in the past as a bait fish but they make very good eating and you can sashimi them as well. The shoulders off those bigger fish are very tasty."
He said several boats tagged sharks and marlins last weekend but yellow fin off Norah Head was the highlight.
"There's been cracking reports of yellow fin tuna. Fish in excess of 60 kilograms, down the back of our southern canyon last week.
"They are fantastic fighting and eating fish and it's great to see them come back in numbers. Hopefully that will be a continuation of last winter when we had a run."
One place you can't go fishing at the moment is Lake St Clair.
Lake St Clair Park was closed by Singleton Council on Wednesday because of the coronavirus restrictions. The closure rules out access to the spot's boat ramp.
However, anglers from far and wide enjoyed Lake St Clair last weekend for the opening round of the Sufix Bass Pro Series.
Queensland's Matthew Langford was the boater category winner, catching his 10-fish limit for a weight of 8.08kg. Kris Hickson was next best with 7.51kg.
Singleton's Mal Draper took home the non-boater trophy with 8.05kg. Draper also won the $500 bonus with his 1.31kg single bass. Muswellbrook's Justin Kermond was third in the non-boater division with 7.32kg from his 10 catches.
Lake Macquarie Game Fishing Club's Big Fish Bonanza on March 28-29, which had been rescheduled because of rough weather in February, became another competition lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
LMGFC were holding out hope of running the event but made the decision to cancel late last Thursday.
"With the ongoing concern of COVID-19 and large gathering guide lines, we have decided not to push forward with our social event," the club announced.
"We would like to thank our valued sponsors. We to hope to see you at The Big Fish Bonanza 2021. All entry's that we have received will be refunded in full."
It followed the cancellation of the Marlin Skins Shootout at Central Coast Game Fishing Club because of predicted rough weather two weeks ago.
The three-day Twin Rivers Fishing Tournament was cancelled last week because of the coronavirus restrictions, as was the Broken Bay Game Fishing Club's invitational event.