by Rick O'Ferrall: From the Flybridge
AS AUTUMN settles, the big questions that game fishermen are asking are about the weather and the East Australian Current - two pieces of the game fishing puzzle that affect marlin fishing here more than anything else.
After a summer of strong winds, the view from the beach recently has been of an uncommonly flat horizon without the usual sawtooth pattern of big swells and wind chop. Hopefully this means an end to the constant north and south winds that have been buffeting the coast most of the year.
But this is only one element of the puzzle, the other being the EAC which has been absent for most of the summer.
For Finding Nemo fans, the depiction of the EAC as the transport system used by migrating fish moving along the east coast was remarkably accurate. When the current flows straight down the edge of the continental shelf, it brings warm tropical water from the Coral Sea south as far as Tasmania.
This water can be as warm as 29 degrees, and when it's flowing at speeds of about 8kph out there, it can be moving water southwards along the coast at a rate of 36 million cubic metres per second, about four times the volume of Sydney Harbour every minute. That sort of free ride isn't one that migrating pelagic fish like marlin ignore.
This summer, the EAC has been diverted away from the coast around the Queensland border and out into the Tasman Sea multiple times by the unrelenting strong winds we've seen here, and as a result, the migrating blue and black marlin in particular appear to have more or less given up the idea of swimming along with it past the Coffs Coast.
It's not too late for a last hot marlin bite before the current slows down for the winter and the marlin go to the tropics, but it's probably only going to be the irrepressible optimists among heading out to the continental shelf edge this Saturday for one more try...