An air of great anticipation grips Newcastle this weekend with the staging of the East Coast Classic.
Hosted by Newcastle Game Fishing Club, the event is the final tournament on the local calendar, following on from the Big Fish Bonanza, Shootout and Interclub.
And like all those tournaments, it’s looking like yet another bumper weekend of fishing.
In fact, 2018 is going to be remembered as one of the great gamefishing seasons with multitudes of blacks, blues and stripes about, mixing in with yellowfin tuna, dolphin fish, sailfish and even the odd wahu.
Newcastle GFC president Scott Morris fished the Carpark last Saturday and reports conservatively that there were at least 50 boats, all enjoying bountiful moments.
“Fishing has been amazing over the last month or so,” Scott said. “I’d even go so far as to say it’s the best I’ve ever seen it.
“My daughter Samantha and son Brad both got their first marlin fishing in my boat Game Time (see Fish of the Week photo panel).
“When we hooked up we were in close vicinity to a lot of boats but it all ended well. Sam’s fish was estimated at 100kg and Brad’s 80kg.”
(Check out footage on the Herald website.)
Scott reports there was a big mix of blacks, blues and stripes, with dolphin fish, yellow fin tuna and mako sharks caught.
“A couple of guys got blues in the 100kg to 180kg range. The blues seem to be out a little wider. The tuna were ranging between 20kg and 40kg. We hooked a mako. There was just a lot of fish about.
“I said to a mate, ‘I’d love to have a submarine and see what’s going on down there. Just a lot of bait fish and flying fish with water temps fluctuating between 24 and 26 degrees.”
With all that hooking up between so many boats, Scott said there was a lot of dancing around
“The long term fishos know the etiquette which is to get out of the way, but if everyone’s hooking up at the same time the same rules always apply and this is to show some patience and politeness.”
This year’s East Coast Classic has attracted a bunch of great new generous sponsors.
Five MMM Sheet Metal has donated $5k for largest marlin over 150kg.
Marmong Point Marina and Koolawong Marina have put up $5k for champion tag and release boat
Major sponsor Penn Fishing is providing a lot of quality Penn fishing gear and accessories.
Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club have made their function room, marina and club facilities available for briefings, the social night and presentation.
Phil McCloy is offering $1000 for largest other game fish which wasn’t won last year and this year jackpots to $2k. Largest shark over 300kg earns $3k.
By midweek registrations were hovering just under 50 with the expectation that come the cut-off Friday afternoon, there will be in the vicinity of 70 boats and 300 anglers.
Defending champion boat tag and release Born Free is back to defend its title.
“It’s looking all right, I have to say,” Scott said. “This time last year we had big seas and awful weather and I was really nervous but this year things seem to be lining up really nicely.”
Saturday afternoon between 5.30pm and 7pm, get down to the harbour and check out the fleet as they return to shore after the first day’s competition. Similarly, Sunday, from about day break a spectacular flotilla will make their way back out.
Speaking of blue marlin, one tagged as part of the NSW DPI Game Fish Tagging Program during last year’s Interclub off Port Stephens has recently been recaptured and released 296 nautical miles north off the Gold Coast.
Interestingly, of the 10,500 blue marlin released since the program’s beginnings in 1973, only 35 have been recaptured, with the first recapture reported in 1996.
The NSW DPI Game Fish Tagging Program issues tags free of charge and works in close association with the NSW Game Fishing Association and the Game Fishing Association of Australia and ANSA. The program is run using funds from the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust.
Over 445,000 fish have been tagged so far.
While we’re talking tournaments, don’t forget to factor in the annual Port Stephens Trailer Boat tournament which is running this year March 23-25.
The TBF is a family friendly affair with a focus on all fish species, with rules deliberately kept simple in order to appeal to the full spectrum of anglers from beginner to the guns.
The social aspect is huge, along with the the entries.
Expect upwards of a 800 anglers competing for a mountain of species and lucky door prizes in nearly 100 categories, ensuring everyone has a chance to walk away with something to remember.
For information about entries, visit www.tbf.com.au.