THE fifth annual Narooma Flathead Classic saw around 400 flathead caught and released in Wagonga Inlet, the longest being 80.5cm.
Organised by O’Brien’s Hotel and officiated by Graeme Dawson and fishing guide Stuart Hindson, the fishing competition draws around 150 visiting anglers to Narooma just when tourism numbers are falling post holidays.
Around $5000 was also raised for the Starlight Foundation.
The 61 teams competing enjoyed great weather and good fishing on Saturday and Sunday.
The Classic is a strictly catch-and-release, artificial lure tournament with teams taking photos of their fish on specially designed brag mats with the entry key tag alongside.
The photos of the five biggest fish for each team are presented to judge Stuart Hindson at the end of the day back at the pub.
The winner was Team Jigman from Geelong who won with 1008 points with team captain John Didge also getting the longest fish of the weekend at 80.5cm on Day 1.
The longest fish on Day 2 was 71.5cm by Team Brown Brothers.
Along with his Team Jigman teammates Adam Van Der Lugt and Paul Mayer, John said he focussed on shallows “right up the back of the inlet”.
The team got 15 flathead on Day 1 and nine flathead on Day 2.
“We definitely enjoyed it and will be back,” the team leader said, thanking the organisers and sponsors.
It’s been a very successful summer of fishing for Team Jigman, also winning the Mallacoota Reel It In Challenge held in November.
The Narooma Flathead Classic should get some publicity as Fishing World magazine editor Jim Harnwell and writer Sam Omari fished both days.
Several local teams entered having a great time on their local waters.
The best performing locals were Team Nitro led by charter operator Benny Bolton, who with his three teammates got more than 20 fish each day but without any fish of size, it is quality that wins not quantity.
Keeping up his tradition of dress-ups was local schoolteacher Mr Maz who won the presented boat/fisherman award after donning his King Neptune costume for the start of Day 1.
Jason Hextell and Brent Lockton also had a bit of fun after they bet a case of beer on who would do best.
It started when Locko took out on the boat a plastic mould of an 80cm snapper from his brother’s service station.
Once out on the water, he laid it out on the brag mat, taking a photo and texting it to Jason saying he was sure to win the best bycatch award.
The next day, Jason decided to get his revenge when his team happened to motor past another local, who had just returned from Montague Island with a bag of kingfish.
He laid one of the 65cm kingfish on his brag mat complete with key tag sending the photo to official Graeme Dawson.
For the record, the winning bycatch on Day 1 was an amazing tale in itself as there were two small amberjack, one 40cm and the other 36cm, caught.
Stuart Hindson at the presentation said in more than 30 years of fishing the Narooma inlet, he had never heard of amberjack caught.
There was a small amberjack caught at Montague Island and reported in the Narooma News fishing report a few weeks ago.
The best bycatch on Day2 was 42cm whiting.
Narooma News editor Stan Gorton was given special dispensation by organiser and sponsor Paul O’Brien to compete solo on his Hobie kayak, a first for the comp.
His competition started out well with a big 68cm female dusky and then a 44cm within the first hour of Day 1, causing some consternation among the teams being beaten by one man on kayak.
Despite having a very tough competition with no legal size flathead to present, local Karen Barker was named the best female angler with her work in helping with the comp recognized.
The junior angler award went to Wil Longmire of Wagga, while the best hard luck story went to Team Softy, whose outboard motor and boat electrics malfunctioned as well as breaking a fishing rod.
The prize included a trailer jockey wheel from sponsor Jamo’s AutoPro,
Not deterred, the team hired a tinny from Taylor’s and kept on fishing.
The top five teams were Team Jigman followed by Team Northern Lights and then in descending order Dusky Chasers, last year’s champs Fish Fillets and Team NKD.