Martha Cove Fishing Challenge
  |  First Published: December 2007

The inaugural Martha Cove Fishing Challenge was held in late November, and for a first off competition, the day could not have run any more smoothly. Organisers Paul Worsteling and David Kramer provided competitors with an exciting competition of a different nature.

Some 143 competitors set out from the magnificent development at Martha Cove to fish the waters of the southern end of Port Phillip Bay. All competitors were required to assemble their boats in the Martha Cove Marina and attend a briefing at 6am, prior to the days fishing. In what is believed to be a Victorian first, Paul Worsteling (first time out of bed this early in years) sounded the siren for the start of the competition, after which 53 boats conducted a sail past the starting line and out the entrance of Martha Cove. Ahead lay nine hours of fishing during which anglers were challenged to catch as many species as possible.

The sight of 53 boats leaving a marina entrance was something out of a Queensland gamefishing competition and with the picturesque Martha Cove development in the background, you could have thought you were in Queensland. Boats headed in every direction to target particular species, but there was one smart angler who trolled a lure while motoring out the entrance – and hooked a nice barracouta within seconds. One species down, nineteen to go!

The competition rules specified that 20 species were eligible for the competition. The species included flathead, King George whiting, grass whiting, bream, snook, pike, calamari, arrow squid, gummy shark, school shark, snapper, salmon, garfish, kingfish, sweep, snotty trevalla, trevally, leatherjacket, and couta.

One of the best aspects of this competition is that there was no need for to kill fish. Competitors needed to catch only one of each species, and as long as it was legal length, it was eligible. Every competitor was provided with a laminated card that could be used in a digital photo with an eligible fish and competitor as proof of a catch, if competitors chose to release the fish.

The day was blessed with perfect fishing conditions, with light variable winds and calm seas allowing competitors to cover a lot of ground in search of the 20 species. A nice cloud cover most of the day provided comfortable conditions for competitors, and most waited until the very last minute to return to Martha Cove for the fish registration and presentation.

At the end of the day, 17 of the 20 species were caught. This was testament that the Martha Cove development is truly Victoria’s gateway to some of the best fishing grounds an angler could wish for. It was also fantastic to see that three non-listed species were recorded, which were boarfish, slimy mackerel and cuttlefish.

When competitors finally returned to Martha Cove, all boats again were moored within the Marina precinct with Martha Cove providing great security for boat owners to leave their boats unattended to enjoy the free BBQ and presentation.

All up, there was $22,000 worth of prizes, not bad for an inaugural competition. First prize was a fully registered and insured boat, motor and trailer package with all safety gear. Theo and Michael Rozakis, from local boating centre MY Marine, were fantastic in organising this wonderful prize. Paul Worsteling’s Tackle World at Cranbourne also provided runners up prizes, as well as over 30 random draw prizes. Another great attraction was that every child who attended the presentation took home a fishing rod and reel, to entice them to take up the wonderful activity of fishing. Victoria Fishing Monthly also supported the competition by providing 20 six-month subscriptions and show bags as give-aways on the day.

Joe Falcone, fishing with Charlie Micallef aboard Savage Seas II, was the eventual winner with nine species caught for the day. There were five competitors who caught seven species, and these names were drawn from a hat with Doug Phayer winning second prize and Jarrod Day winning third prize. Seven competitors caught five species and all took home a prize valued at over $200.

This event is sure to grow in popularity next year as the offer of a completely different competition really excited those anglers that competed. – David Kramer

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