WHEN the weather improved during the week, several boats went out to try their hand in the first-marlin-of-the-season stakes.
"Seaborn" was out for a look around to the east of the lighthouse on Tuesday, and found excellent conditions with the ocean full of mackerel and striped tuna bait, but no game fish.
On Wednesday, "Matador" found more of the same, this time with striped marlin free- jumping around them and showing up on the sounder; but frustratingly, still not at all interested in any of the lures that were offered to them.
At the same time, "Mr. Hooker", a visiting game boat from Bermagui was working the area between Yamba and Coffs, and saw plenty of bait swimming around, but still couldn't buy a marlin bite.
So what's going on....? The simple answer appears to be that with the proliferation of bait by the acre out there, the striped marlin that are already only here in reduced numbers at the moment aren't in any particular hurry to move up or down the coast searching for food when they have it all around them.
They're probably just cruising around getting fat wherever they are, and with plenty of bait in large schools both on the surface and in mid-water, why chase lures?
So given what's been reported this past few days, it looks like there are two choices for the game fishermen for the next week or so.
Firstly, go wide and catch yellowfin tuna, or secondly, use live-baiting techniques along the top of the continental shelf to tempt the striped marlin that are too fat and lazy to bother chasing or even playing with artificial lures.
These striped marlin are difficult enough to deal with even when they're hungry, but if they're this well fed, and you can even get them to come up for a look in the lure pattern, they'll behave like a bunch of window-shopping prim donnas as they swim around the lures, maybe taking a half-interested swat at them, but generally showing little interest in playing.
If you're lucky, they'll provide 15 seconds of excitement as they grab a lure in their mouth and run around with it without getting aggressive or unlucky enough for a solid hook-up to occur.
It can be very frustrating for anglers at times like this.
Of course now that we have 24 degree Celsius water starting to flow nicely down the shelf since about last Monday, it shouldn't be too long before the occasional adventurous blue marlin puts in an appearance.
However, as I mentioned last week, it may be a little later in the year before these bigger, tougher marlin with a penchant for life on the wild side move into our piece of ocean in reasonable numbers.
But when they do, forget about the more exact science of live-baiting, because it will be game on as these super aggressive fighters crash- tackle lures seemingly just for the hell of it, regardless of the amount of bait in the water or how well fed they are.