A thick layer of mist swirled among the floatilla of boats heading out to compete in the 36th Golden Lure fishing competition in Port Macquarie on January 11.
Fifty-three boats powered single file past Town Green and the cheers of well-wishers before surging out to sea through the breakwall. The lead vessels were chaperoned by Marine Rescue Port Macquarie.
The week-long event is hosted by the Port Macquarie Game Fishing Club and started on Friday, January 10 with a briefing and calcutta.
Applause and cheers were heard as keen fisherman Michael O'Brien crossed Lady Nelson Wharf to take part in the tournament.
The local larrikin and former carpenter was involved in a severe boating accident on April 14, 2019. He has been in recovery during the last year since breaking his back at the T9 vertebrae.
"I ended up catching a Black Marlin (about 1pm) which we tagged and released," he said.
"I seen it pop out of the rigger so I just picked it up and it started screaming off, I hadn't even told the boys yet. It started jumping out the back, it was pretty exciting.
"That was my main goal to get back to the Golden Lure this year and get hooked up to a marlin. It was an awesome feeling and I'm really happy, stoked. We have our secret little spots and they seemed to pay off.
"I fish it every year, I've fished it for seven or eight years and that's my passion. I wanted to get back and see if I could still do it.
"My chair was modified with a harness setup and that wasn't too bad. It has had a base, rod holder and foot pedal welded to it.
"I'm not going too bad, you have your good days and bad days. It was awesome to get a cheer from the wharf on the sail past, it was a good feeling to get back out there."
Port Macquarie Game Fishing Club president Janeck Kaczorowski said teams endured hard conditions on the first day and a decision was made to cancel the second day until January 13.
"It was pretty hard going in the weather and a lot of the fleet were back before lunch time due to the wind," he said.
"Despite quite trying conditions we had a couple of results with two marlin tagged and released. Quite a nice yellowfin tuna and some hammerhead sharks were caught and released.
"Mick from Bear tagged and released a marlin today so we are all pretty chuffed about that. That was the highlight of the day.
"The other boat who snagged a marlin was The Menace and those two boats would be leading the points at the moment. There were also a few marlin lost today and we know the marlin are around.
"The sail past was a great success in getting 53 boats up the channel and across, that was quite spectacular.
"We are back at it again on Monday and we will go on from there. There is one thing we can't control and that is the weather.
"We think that Monday is going to be an absolute firecracker and we think we may get 50 to 100 marlin tagged due to the weather conditions."
The Golden Lure features a significant prize pool with the most prize money attributed to champion boat tag and release, the tag and release (blue marlin only) and the champion boat that has the heaviest marlin.