The 2010 NSWGFA Interclub tournament is well and truly underway.
The first two days provided some glorious weather for the 800+ anglers who entered this year’s event. After the usual formalities of the Friday night briefing most anglers opted for an early night in preparation for a big weekend ahead.
Friday night briefing
Day 1 (Sat 27th) commenced with a giant sailpast, as each boat entered in the tournament was showcased to the gathered crowd of onlookers who lined the local breakwalls. At the conclusion of the sailpast, dozens of boats could be seen steaming for the horizon in every direction, as they madly dashed for the fishing grounds, keen to mix it with their first fish of the tournament. A light north-easterly breeze and gentle sea made the run out comfortable for everyone; even the smallest of trailerboats had no trouble making it out to where the big fish live.
Sailpast – Day one
It didn’t take long for the hook-ups to start flowing in over the radio, as a steady procession of tag reports were called in to tournament base. A large percentage of the fleet had elected to run straight to the area known as “The Carpark”, which follows the 80-100 fathom depth between the latitudes of 33.00 & 33.05 degrees south.
This spot is renowned for its massive gatherings of slimey mackerel schools, which in turn attracts and holds large numbers of attendant billfish. Striped, black and blue marlin were all taken from this area within the first few hours of fishing and as the day continued so too did the hookups. There were two other areas, which saw a concentrated effort from the fleet, with one being slightly to the north from the latitude of 32.50 to 32.55S and also further to south between 33.05 and 33.10S.
The popular “Car Park” grounds
Most of the reports came from the 80-100 fathom depth range, which is fairly typical of the fishery. The best result for the day was four fish, with a few boats scoring this number. Plenty of other boats found 1-2 fish each, although there were also quite a few that unfortunately returned to port with zeroes. The capture crews also found some nice fish, although there were plenty of hard luck stories filtering through the grapevine by day’s end.
The new line class tag & release point score system was in full swing, with plenty of fish tagged on 15kg line as opposed to the “standard” 24kg gear. The bulk of the fleet still opted to fish 24kg as the average size of the marlin this year has been slightly larger than in previous years. The run of fish encountered this season has been mostly in the 70-100kg range, with plenty more well above 100kg taken from amongst the bait schools. An interesting note was that very few fish were taken on 37kg line; another indicator that line class T&R is foremost in everyone’s mind.
Day 2 (Sun 28th) greeted anglers with even better weather than the day before, with barely a breath of wind to ruffle the flat seas. After taking note of the results from day 1, the bulk of the fleet once again concentrated their efforts on the same three areas, with the area further to north perhaps providing the most consistent results for the day.
The general consensus was that Sunday provided better fishing for the fleet, with more boats finding better numbers of fish. Live baiting seemed to be the preferred technique for those chasing marlin, with the hot spots concentrating massive numbers of boats. This close quarters fishing can be a curse at times, and plenty of boats suffered as their fish screamed off only to have lines cut on nearby boats.
The best result for the day was five fish, with plenty of other boats finding up to four fish each. The water on the shelf was blue and warm, averaging around 24-24.5 degrees, which meant there was a good percentage of black marlin found amongst the stripes.
Once again, the capture teams found themselves hooked up to some impressive fish, with some finding success after some hard luck from day 1, while others once again found themselves on the losing end of the battle.
Despite a growing tag & release effort the weigh-in station is as popular as ever with onlookers.
Whilst the fishing off Port Stephens hasn’t been as good as in previous weeks, it has still been good enough to keep everyone interested, with the majority of the fleet at least seeing a marlin at some point over the weekend. The fish have proven a little finicky in their eating habits, with plenty of those raised refusing to eat a bait.
Sharks and other gamefish have been a little conspicuous in their absence, although there has been a few found by those who put in the effort. As I write this, the poor weather has moved in and the town is a little quiet as most anglers enjoyed a sleep in and a quiet day of cleaning up after two solid days of fishing. Party In The Park is still scheduled for this evening, despite the grey skies. Apparently it takes a little more than rain to keep Interclub anglers from enjoying a cold beer or two! Stay tuned for an update on tomorrow’s Ladies Day competition.
Official standings after days 1 & 2 are as follows:
Leading Teams – Tag & Release
1. Newcastle/Port Stephens GFC – Team 1 – 232,000 points
Sydney GFC – Team 2 – 147,500 points
Lake Macquarie GFC – Team 2 – 130,000 points
Leading Boats – Tag & Release
1. Smartbill – Sydney GFC – 96,000 points
Amokura – Lake Macquarie GFC – 70,000 points
Gunrunner – Newcastle/Port Stephens GFC – 66,000 points
Highest Point Scoring Angler – Tag & Release
Male – Aris Kermadis, Smartbill – 86,000 points
Female – Katie Lee, Gunrunner – 43,000 points
Junior – Jacinta Thomas, Amokura – 50,000 points
Leading Teams – Capture
1. Lake Macquarie GFC – Team 1 – 65727.50 points
Sydney GFC – Team 1 – 53393.78 points
Lake Macquarie – Team 3 – 28198.58 points
Leading Boats – Capture
1. Blue Blooded – Lake Macquarie GFC – 30,206.50 points
Gloriana – Lake Macquarie GFC – 28198.58 points
Askari – Sydney GFC – 23205.28 points
Heaviest shark – 418kg Tiger Shark – Head Hunter, Lake Macquarie GFC
Heaviest marlin – 118.5kg Black Marlin – Blue Blooded, Lake Macquarie GFC