Hundreds of anglers were praying for good weather this week in the countdown to the Garmin Billfish Shootout Tournament, one of the two hugely popular and lucrative fishing tournaments due to be staged in Port Stephens this month.
More than $1.5 million is expected to be pumped into the Port Stephens economy when up to 1000 anglers and 300 boats pull into Nelson Bay for the February 14-16 shootout and the February 21-23 NSW GFA Interclub Fishing Tournament.
But forecasts for rainy weather, potentially making boating and fishing unsafe, could put a halt to the economic boost the tournaments were due to bring the Port across the next two weekends.
"Economically, the shootout is important for the community. It's really big for the area," Troy Radford, president of the Newcastle Port Stephens Game Fish Club, said.
"It showcases what a great area we have here and our waterways. Over the years Port Stephens has become renowned for Marlin fishing. If we get good weather, we'll get get good fish. Right now we're praying for good weather."
Up to 750 anglers and 150 boats were registered to participant in the shootout, which is organised and run by the Newcastle Port Stephens Game Fish Club.
A decision on whether the shootout would go ahead was made on Thursday.
Newcastle Port Stephens Game Fish Club said the tournament committee had been closely monitoring the weather changes and had determined it was safe to proceed.
"The Garmin Billfish Shootout is ON," the club stated on its Facebook page.
"We look forward to catching up with everyone at the briefing tomorrow [Friday] night which commences at 6.30pm for a great weekend of fishing and socializing [sic]."
The shootout offers $200,000 to the angler who catches the largest Blue Marlin over 258kg. There is also $48,000 in cash prizes and $100,000 in product prizes up for grabs.
This year the tournament is supporting the Mark Hughes Foundation. Money raised through raffles and auctions run across the weekend would be donated to the foundation.
Organisers of the Interclub tournament were also praying this week for a return to quality fishing conditions. Last year's tournament was cancelled due to bad weather.
"The benefit this tournament has on the local economy is huge," organiser Nigel Rushworth said.
"From food, to petrol, to accommodation to marina fees, it has a big flow on affect. It [tournament] brings a lot of people to the town."
About 100 boats and 400 anglers have registered for the Interclub tournament so far.