The nor’-easter blues
  |  First Published: December 2011

Some quality blue marlin have been congregating off the Coffs Coast but the incessant northerlies are making getting out there just a tad difficult.

Unless you’re able to down tools and roll at a moment’s notice, the all-too-rare weather windows often slip by within a day, to be replaced by yet more northerlies – or howling southerlies, just for a change of direction.

With three knots of hot, blue current pushing south, it certainly makes for wild times out over the continental shelf! But it’s been a typical late Spring weather pattern and everyone’s hoping Summer will bring some slightly friendlier conditions, especially around weekends when most of us are free to fish.

The striped marlin have started to thin out as the water warms but the odd one can always be found, even in 26°-plus water.

Meanwhile, the mahi mahi grow larger and more numerous with each passing day, which is great news.

There have been a couple of early season wahoo caught, and the odd decent yellowfin better than 35kg is still loitering in the neighbourhood.

We all patiently await the run of inshore blacks, which have been patchy to say the least for the past five years. The occasional hot bites are often over as soon as the word gets out.

The Coffs Harbour Game Fishing Club held their Hot Currents tournament in mid-November and 29 boats hit the water the first day under ideal conditions.

There was plenty of billfish activity, with some boats recording up to three billfish bites, but the dreaded rubber-hook syndrome was an issue for most.

Unfortunately the wind came away from the north for the second and third days and the fishing slowed appreciably, then 20 knots of southerly opposing three knots of current meant many boats retired early on the last day.

All up, six marlin and one spearfish were tagged (the latter scoring no points due to a tagging technicality), and three marlin were weighed.

The rest of the fleet found an eclectic mix of hammerhead, whaler and blue sharks, yellowfin tuna, striped tuna, mahi mahi and wahoo.

Some sizeable blues were encountered, with Doug Sinclair on Secret Men’s Business tagging one the crew put at 220kg, and a couple of other boats got to see what near-empty spools looked like.

The heaviest marlin weighed, a 137.4kg blue, was caught by Kyle Phillips aboard Casey, closely followed by a massive striped of 120.2kg to Kane Hartcher on Nuthin Suss.

Champion boat tag and release was the plastic fantastic No Frills, with a blue marlin, a mahi mahi and a 50kg yellowfin tuna that would’ve earned itself a trip back to shore under different circumstances. Charles LaCoste was the angler on all three fish and won the champion tag and release category.

Chika from the Port Macquarie Game Fishing Club was champion boat capture with a blue marlin and a mahi mahi.


Unfortunately, the proposed fuel wharf at the Coffs Harbour Marina I mentioned a few issues back has been put on the back burner for the time being.

The installation of the pontoon and bowsers isn’t a big deal, but the marina owners want some assurances from the various government bureaucracies that have a finger in the marina pie that such a piece of capital expenditure will be supported by an extended lease to offset the cost of the installation.

Typically, the Government has said no, which makes you wonder if there are other, bigger players waiting in the wings for when the current lease expires?

So Coffs Harbour is set to continue as the east coast’s biggest boating and game fishing backwater, with travelling boats and visitors alike avoiding it like the plague.

Terrific. Similar to the malaise that grips the entire sad and run-down harbour precinct, none of this comes as a surprise to local residents.

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