• Blue marlin catch raises excitement ahead of gamefishing season

    FISH OF THE WEEK: Nicole Hollier wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this 166.2kg, 2.7m blue marlin caught on New Year’s Eve off Port Stephens.

    ALTHOUGH a sharp drop in water temperatures last week cooled the heels of many fishos close to home, things look to be warming up on the outside.

    Fish of the week winner NicoleHollier finished 2016 with a bang, reeling in a 166.2-kilogram, 2.7-metre blue marlin on the Allmark mountain reef off Port Stephenson New Year’s Eve last Saturday.

    It was the Rutherford angler’s first marlin and the biggest caught on her neighbour’s boat, Firey IV.

    Hollier, who has got a taste for gamefishing over the past year, said she worked for just over anhour to bring in her catch.

    “It was very exciting,” Hollier said.“It was my first marlin, so it was a great one to start with.”

    Hollier said Firey IV ventured to the FADs first but water temperatures “were still about 21 degrees, so we had to keep going out wider. It was about 23 where we got it.”

    The catch came at what appearedto be an otherwise quiet period because of cooler waters closer to shore.

    However, Jason “One For” Nunn, from Fisherman’s Warehourse Marks Point, said there was reason to hope.

    ”It’s back up to about 19 and that’s helped the situation because last week it was 15, 16 degrees, it was disgraceful,” Jason said of the temps.

    “It’s on a slow repair and it would have been better with a few more days of southerlies, but things have improved and there’s a bit starting to happen on the outside.There’s a bit of pelagic activity with a few bonito around and quite a few kingfish, but not big ones. There’s a lot of rat kingsand those guys prepared to do a bit of work with a slow troll or with some live squid, they are picking some up.

    “There’s quite a few snapper and some trag in close and that’s a direct result of this water temperature picking up.”

    As well as the blue marlin catch,Jason had heard reports of“a few big dolphin fish being caught out wider”, which was all pointing to exciting times ahead.

    “It’s still not huge yet, but the reports from up the coast are looking good,” he said.“It appears the water temp up at South West Rocks has changed as well.

    ‘‘It dropped off but it’s on the increase and there’s a fair bit of current coming down as well.

    “There’s been a few small black marlin getting caught up around that area and we would anticipate over the next few weeks thatthings will improve around here and we may see a few small blacks around that Port Stephens area, hopefully by the end of the month.”

    Adding to the marlin excitement was news ofa 276.4kg blue marlin caught off Bermagui, on the NSW south coast, on Wednesday by the crew of Xtreme.

    “All of us have our eyes glued to what’s happening in the game fishing,” Jason said.“Everyone is waiting now for someone to say I got a black marlin, or a striped marlin out the front.

    The crew of Xtreme with their 276.4kg marlin.

    “Everyone is waiting for someone to have some luck and they’ll all come out of the woodwork.”

    GOOD MOON RISINGWhile game fishing is showing signs of life, jewfish anglers are already cashing in on the build upto the next full moon, on January 12.

    Jason said jew hot spots in Lake Macquarie, Newcastle Harbour and Port Stephens would be the focus over the next week.

    Decent catches, though, were already coming in.

    Andrew Giusti, from Eleebana, caught a 110-centimetre jew off the beach at Jewells just before midnight on New Year’s Eve.

    RianMorrow snagged his first jew, a 95cm specimen, on December 28 fishing the dropover in Lake Macquarie at Marks Point.

    Ross Duff, from Duff’s Salamander Bait and Tackle, said a customer speared a38kg jew off Tomaree, whileJason said on Thursday thathis son, Pat, “went out last night and got one at 86cm and the night before they got one about 75” on Lake Macquarie.

    “They’ve gone out to see if it was improving and obviously it is,” Jason said.“They’ve dropped a couple as well but each time they are coming home with a fish.”

    Shaun Fitzgibbon was another to reel in a big jew, this time off the breakwall in Newcastle Harbour on Wednesday.Although we were waiting on an official size, it was almost as big as him judging by the photo.

    CLOSER CALLS Shaun Fitzgibbon and his Newcastle Harbour jew.

    With the improvement in water temps, expectations are for good fishing for whiting, bream and flathead in the estuaries and beaches this weekend.

    Ross reckons there’splenty of whiting at beaches like Corlette andShoal Bay in Port Stephens, as well as bream, flathead, afew salmon and tailor around.

    Jason expected whiting and bream to be biting in Swansea Channel as theholiday rush slowed.

    “Once that boat and jetski traffic eases, the fish are more receptive to a bite,” he said. “We’ve been selling a lot of worms this weekand reports are there’s good whiting around.”

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