Fantastic coastal catches during Interclub last weekend auger well for the East Coast Classic gamefishing tournament, to be held out of Newcastle next weekend.
Local water temperature is balmy verging on downright tropical and with the warm suds have come northern species.
Cobia, spanish mackerel, bluefin tuna and wahu have been peppering local reports, along with a great show of blue, black and striped marlin.
Mac tuna have also showed up in numbers right along the coast and there's been a great tailor bite along local beaches which has drawn in some big jew.
For Jason "One For" Nunn, from Fisherman's Warehouse at Marks Point, all this fishing positivity comes as some relief.
"For once we have a season on track," he said.
"Nothing's too late, nothing's too early - like Goldilocks, things are just right.
"Blue marlin have turned up on the shelf at the end of February, just like they're supposed to, providing a challenge for the big game fishing boats.
"There's little blacks in close giving the trailerboat guys a shot.
"We're seeing all these northern species all because of this warm water."
Anglers are also reporting a welcome reappearance of tailor.
"We're seeing them caught on coastal beaches and rock platforms of an early morning and late afternoon," Jason said.
"They've been triggering a bit of jew activity along the beaches too."
Brendan Stobbart pulled in a 115cm mulloway this week.
Meanwhile, Kassie Blanch outfished the family on Stockton Beach last weekend, claiming bragging rights over hubby Michael.
"Myself, my wife and our two young kids went fishing off Stockton beach," Michael reported.
"First cast out using pippi as bait Kassie landed a beauty of a snapper measuring 47cm.
"She also went on to catch whiting and tailor, completely out fishing me.
"Think next time I go fishing I'll leave her at home since this is the second time within weeks she's outfished me."
Job well done
Interclub proved a reasonably close-run event under extenuating circumstances last weekend.
Competitors were allowed to fish out of their home ports rather than converge on Port Stephens, as they normally do each year.
Sydney won champion club tag and release, fishing sharks out of Lord Howe. Ulladulla ran second and Central Coast, fishing out of Port Stephens fished third.
Newcastle GFC boat Ningaloo flew the flag highest for local clubs finishing in third place Champion Boat Tag and Release.
Ningaloo also claimed honours in the Highest Points for Tag & Release of Other Game Fish category.
"Given the current circumstances, we managed to have a tournament that complied with Covid advice and I think everyone enjoyed themselves," NSW Game Fishing Association president Gary Chenoworth said.
"There was a strong marlin bite down south, but by the same token, there was a lot of fish tagged and released out of Port Stephens too."
That leaves one more local tournament to go on the local gamefishing calendar, so fishos will have a chance to do some maintenance on their marriage this weekend before gearing up for the East Coast Classic.
Extra special event
The East Coast Classic will be contested March 13-14 and is shaping up very nicely, according to event spokesperson Scott Morris.
"We've got a good roll up of entries already and the fishing looks promising along the coast," he said this week.
"We're expecting over 100 vessels and upwards of 300 anglers to compete."
This year's event, the seventh annual running, has added allure as it is combined with the Australian International Billfish Tournament.
"The Australian Game Fishing Association has granted us the right to host this prestigious tournament in 2021 and it's a real coup for Newcastle," Scott said.
"The fact they picked us over places like Cairn and Exmouth speaks volumes for the facilities on offer in Newcastle, the harbour and our track record for running successful tournaments."
Competitors fish Saturday and Sunday, with the winner (so long as they have registered for AIBT) receiving an invitation to the Offshore World Championships in Costa Rica in 2022.
The public will have the chance to witness a spectacular sail past in Newcastle Harbour on Sunday morning.
"There'll be a procession of 100 game fishing boats of all shapes and sizes will start at Dyke Point opposite Honeysuckle at 7am and make their way out past the breakwall before congregating off Nobbys," Scott said. "The cannon at Fort Scratchley will be fired around 8am and then boats will proceed out to sea.
"I encourage the public to get down along the harbour wharves, breakwall and up at Fort Scratchley to witness an unforgettable sight."