February 9 saw the running of the second annual Big Catch Fishing Competition, held as part of the Great Ocean Sports Festival in Apollo Bay.
Although the weather was against us, some braved the strong southerly winds to target such species as snapper, flathead, whiting and sharks, while others kept their feet on the ground to chase trout, bream, salmon and whiting from the safety of the shore. This year’s event also saw the introduction of a kayak fishing section which included target species of whiting, flathead, snapper and bream.
The event kicked off on the Friday night with organiser Daniel Kent and cricketing legend Merv Hughes giving competitors a run down on all the rules, a fishing report and expected weather conditions. Despite the average weather report, spirits remained high and anglers arrived for the 6am start the following morning full of enthusiasm.
Andrew Stephenson, of Lara, and Brad Rowe, from Wedderburn, were so excited they couldn't sleep and were waiting in the dark with their boat at the ramp when organisers turned up at 5.30am. With anglers scattered along the rivers and coastline from Kennett River to the Aire River, no-one knew what had been caught until anglers arrived back at the boat ramp for the 4pm measure-in. (Anglers were given rulers and could take digital photos of their fish, allowing them to be released if desired, or they could bring them back to the measuring station at the boat ramp).
After an action packed day that included plenty of funny stories and some spectacular fish, anglers converged on the Surf Life Saving Club for the presentations. Big Merv again provided some tall stories, and a mountain of prizes was handed out to the victorious anglers. It's said history often repeats itself, and last year's Grand Slam winners in the boat, land-based and junior sections came back and did it again. Matt Kearton, Boat Grand Slam winner two years running, says he is now hoping for rough weather again next year!
The event was again very successful and all proceeds were donated to the Surf Life Saving Club. The Great Ocean Sports Festival would like to thank Merv Hughes, Daniel Kent, Matt Learmonth, Wavedance Kayaks, Diawa, Shimano, Squidgy, Stormy, Jarvis Marine, Yamaha, Surf-n-Fish and fishvictoria.com for all their help and support of The Big Catch Fishing Competition. See you there next year. - GOSF
The Grand Slam winners with Merv Hughes on Saturday night. From left: Matt Kearton (boat), Aiden Piper (junior), Merv, Lance Cahill (land-based), and David Mossop (kayak).Reads: 1203