Anglers have their rods ready as warmer seas and recent catches point to a bumper fishing season.
The anticipation is ramping up after a 254.7 kilogram blue marlin was caught off Cape Brett last week by Nick Macrae aboard the 38-foot Mazara.
Skipper Bevan Beauchamp, from Paihia, was almost ready to head for shore after a fruitless day off the Cape before the fish struck as the crew was hunting in about 200m of water.
Read more: Huge Black Marlin caught off Northland coast
"We hadn't seen anything all day and one other boat out there had had five strikes and we hadn't had a touch," Beauchamp said.
"I said to the boys, 'Maybe we just call it a day and head for home', and then five minutes later, it popped up and jumped on, we caught it in about 15 minutes."
Given it was Macrae's first bluey, the marlin was taken aboard. However, he also caught a suspected 90kg striped marlin the day before, which had been tagged and released.
It was almost a year to the day when the same boat, and largely the same crew, landed a 311kg blue marlin, on January 2 near Cape Brett.
Beauchamp was no stranger to marlin, having fished professionally for two decades and catching four "granders" - marlin more than 1000 pounds (453.6kg).
With rising water temperatures, Beauchamp said the number of marlin being caught pointed to a possibly great season ahead.
More than 30 marlin had been caught in the weeks before January 1 along the East Coast between Houhora and Waihau Bay east of Whakatane, where normally only one or two may be caught. Recently, a 364kg black marlin had been caught near Whakatane.
"I think the signs are really good, I've never seen so many marlin caught before [the New Year]."
In October, meteorologists were keeping a close watch on warming sea surface temperatures. Some pockets have been reaching 3C above average as an La Nina climate system begins to influence our weather.
Beauchamp said warmer waters would bring more tropical fish species to New Zealand, such as blue marlin, spearfish, mahi-mahi and even wahoo - the latter being very rare.
"We get [a wahoo] every 10 years or so, but when the water temperatures are like this, it wouldn't be surprising at all."
Russell Macfarlane, an angler from Houhora, said many boats were catching plenty of snapper further north.
"The wife and I went out last Tuesday and we left Houhora ramp at 9am, we were back in by 11am and had our limit ."
Macfarlane, who had lived in Pukenui for four years but fished there for nearly 10, said the upcoming season was promising.
"The water temperature is going to be good and I think it's going to be a good [season]."
Whangaroa Sport Fishing Club president Terry Lay said although good numbers of fish were not being caught, they were a good size: a 251kg blue marlin, a 118kg striped marlin and a 67kg yellowfin tuna had all been caught recently.
"That's early for [blue marlin]. They're not usually here this early," he said.
Lay said many anglers had been enthused by recent mahi-mahi catches, but he stressed many factors influenced fishing seasons, which were hard to predict.
"It's an unknown every year, nobody knows. Some years you think it's going to be absolutely brilliant and it's not."
Lay said the season normally peaked in early February, which is when Northland's sport fishing clubs had many of their major competitions.