Yes, we were definitely lulled into a false sense of security. A dry (but bloody hot) early Summer, bait everywhere, plenty of juvenile black marlin inshore, an early run of big spotties and a few Spanish, and game-fishing types residing on the Coffs coast were nodding their heads in agreement that this wasn’t such a bad place to live.
Then ex-tropical cyclone Oswald showed up and spoiled the party.
A massive low-pressure system that tracks right down along the east coast is always going to affect a lot of people and that’s what happened from Cape York to beyond Sydney at the end of January.
Fortunately it came as the summer holidays drew to a close, so most people had already got in a good dose of fishing, but the offshore scene really fizzled out as a result.
The Solitary Islands Game Fishing Club held a comp day on the Saturday of the Australia Day long weekend with five boats doing it tough in the building seas.
There was one black marlin tagged, a couple lost and some yellowfin and mahi mahi were tagged. Wahoo rushed around, wrecking lure skirts.
The water was blue and 27° but the ominous cloudbank to the north suggested something evil was brewing just over the horizon.
That night, it started to rain and boy, did it rain. Coffs recorded close to 300mm in 48 hours and neighbouring areas even more than that. Unfortunately, the club’s ladies and juniors introduction to game fishing day had to be postponed, which was a real shame because 50 game fishers of the future had signed up to discover what blue-water fishing was all about.
Recruiting juniors as well as selling the game fishing concept to the ‘better halves’ is the key to the long-term growth of our sport and it’s certainly not as expensive or as difficult as many people are led to believe.
It also helps to build a bridge among families regarding what dad goes off and does every other weekend!
Two up-and-coming SIGFC youngsters starred at the Port Macquarie Golden Lure tournament prior to the rain.
Nic ‘Lambchop’ Edwards and Zac Danby took out the champion junior and champion small fry tag-and-release trophies with some great releases.
Lambchop’s a bit of an old hand at catching marlin now, and tagged three blacks plus a yellowfin, while Zac tagged his first two and a mahi mahi, which he saved from a marlin that was trying to eat it off his line!
About the only people who will be happy about the Oswald deluge will be the breakwall jewie specialists.
For the rest of us, the creeks will be dirty (although after an extremely dry Winter and Spring, many of them needed a good flush out) and it’s a fair bet that floodwater runoff will muddy the inshore waters for weeks to come.
Fingers crossed, the juvenile black marlin and mackerel will return inshore as Autumn progresses, but it’s such a shame to see a promising – not to mention easily accessible –billfish season prematurely nipped in the bud.
I guess many of us will be shelf-bound for the foreseeable future, with the blues running hot and then cold for those who have pushed wide searching for them over Summer.
This scarcity is probably the result of boats concentrating inshore rather than prowling the offshore canyons and drop-offs, because there’s certainly nothing wrong with the water temperature or the colour out there, although bait is fairly scarce.Reads: 579