Mother Nature delivered an Easter fishing feast with a great marlin bite out wide reflected in closer to shore with an upsurge in tailor and the first signs of travelling bream.
The forecast this weekend is straight out angling nirvana with light winds, clear skies, low swell, favourable daytime tides and mountains of bait.
The only shadow hanging over it all is the threat of seismic testing, according to Jason “One For” Nunn, from Fisherman’s Warehouse at Marks Point.
Assett Energy was due to start 2D seismic testing this Monday, April 9, in their quest to find gas off Swansea, but in an interesting twist of fate, the boat doing the testing has been held up at Mackay by a cyclone, giving opponents a window of opportunity to raise public awareness.
A rally will be held this Sunday at Horseshoe beach and it is believed national media will be on hand to interview the players.
A second rally that was to be held on Monday, when the initial tests were scheduled to start, has been cancelled pending an update on if and when the tests will begin.
In the meantime, talk is brewing of forming an armada of recreational boats to blockade the tests, ala Green Peace style, should they eventually go ahead.
”We hope it delays the testing and buys us a little bit more time because we need to generate attention,” Jason said.
“Unfortunately you talk about destroying the flathead fishery or wiping out the king prawn run, or decimating the commercial fishing catch, and the public don’t buy in.
”You talk about a whale being concussed by blast from a sonic air gun fired by greedy mineral prospectors from out of state who can provide no data on the possible effects of what they are doing, and the emotion really spikes.
“They [Assett Energy] thought they’d get it all done before the whales started migrating and the school holidays, but now the start date will be put back.
“Four days ago we saw the first whale sighting off Caves Beach and there was one on Monday off Bird Island.
“The numbers moving north will now increase bringing into question the viability of seismic testing. Now is the time to stand up and be counted and if that involves a blockade and getting arrested, then that’s what we’ll do.”
How long the testing is delayed depends on Mother Nature, but given the way Assett Energy has gone about the process, Jason thinks it won’t be long.
“They haven’t been up front with the consultation. They booked this boat months ago, so they knew it was coming, but they didn’t tell us until a couple of weeks ago.
“They were hoping to get it done prior to migration time, but now the whales are on the move. They’re obviously determined to push through and the timing couldn’t be worse,
“The trouble is, no one from Assett Energy can say what impact the testing will have. They don’t have any contingency plans to identify whales in the area – spotter planes, or drones – and what happens if an animal is injured, what’s the rescue process?”
On the move
Reports of marlin were flying over the Easter period with many boats reporting multiple catches of blacks and stripes.
Several yellowfin were also reported and some exceptionally large sharks weighed.
“All these fish are travelling down in the current they want to seismically test,” Jason said.
“On inshore reefs, we’re seeing some nice trag and reds up to 2kg. The fathead season has kicked off on the gravel off Newcastle and we’re getting great reports of tailor on the beach – 1kg plus stuff
“A couple of our customers this week bagged out on flathead and tailor in the lake but the big news was the bream – lots of travelling bream on the move.
“The timing for all this testing couldn’t be worse for recreational anglers because April is the greatest fishing month of the year as summer transitions into winter.”
Good Friday was fantastic for Elermore Vale angler Nikolas Newell who hauled in a PB jew weighing 25kg off Stockton beach.
It was one of two caught during the session and was hooked just before dark on a live tailor.
“It’s my biggest fish so far at 25kg and 140cm long,” Nik reported. “My PB before that was 18kg, registered last June.”
Nik backed it up Sunday with another mulloway which weighed in at 13kg.
He reported a mile of tailor and bream up the beach, but said the jew were not that prevalent.
“I had a couple of mates fishing, and my dad’s mates fishing, and they were all getting their tailor and bream, but no one looked like getting a jew,” Nik said.
Seems location was the key, but Nik was pretty cagey when asked.
“Just a hole up Stockton Beach,” was all he would reveal.
Newcastle Game Fishing weigh master Scott Johnston reports NGFC boats enjoyed a happy Easter.
“Grant Hamlet, fishing on Seawandra, caught a whopping mako shark on Thursday after a 10 hour fight weighing 417.2kg,” Scott said. “On Friday Jason Hewitt and Clint Pavlidis, fishing on Blood Bank got two tiger sharks, 211kg to Jason and 461.6kg to Clint which is the the first “grander” for the club.”
Eight-year-old Jack Williams of Cameron Park registered his biggest bream recently, 38cm fish caught in Lake Macquarie.
Meanwhile, Julie Carroll hooked a 3kg snapper off Broughton Island on Good Friday.