The Gold Coast 2012 Flathead Classic is a great event and was on from October 3-6.
Whether you are a tournament regular or a first timer this iconic tournament, now in its 19th year, should be on your calendar next year. It is so much more than a fishing comp with a great event wrapped around excellent fishing.
The Gold Coast is renowned for its big flathead and there is no better time to go crocodile hunting than this time of year. The format is over 2 1/2 days and is an eco-friendly catch and release comp, so no live wells are needed. What you do need is a digital camera to capture your catches against the tournament ruler, which is provided at the briefing. Please note it is a lure and fly comp so sorry, there is no bait allowed.
The comp can be fished as a team of two or three and there are honours for champion teams and individuals along with ‘other’ species trophies. However all of the big prizes are won by random draw! Yes, that’s right you don’t have to be the best angler to take home the great prize or the big one, a Blue Fin Boats package!
With a limit of 200 teams (of 2-3 anglers), the Gold Coast Flathead Classic is one of the biggest catch and release fishing tournaments in Queensland and has a reputation of producing staggering numbers of flathead.
I’ve decided to talk to a few people about why they enter the Flatty Classic and what they find so good about the event. Some of the answers are surprising and reveal a much greater depth to this tournament than many others on the calendar.
So let’s get into it.
The first question I asked is: Why do you enter the Flathead Classic? The responses were refreshing to say the least.
Ben Job (who writes our southern Gold Coast report) has been fishing the Flathead Classic since its inception. That makes him one of a handful left who have fished every Classic.
You’d think he may be a bit blasé about the Classic but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Ben said, “To me the Flathead Classic is about the atmosphere”. Anthony Fullarton, winner of last year’s random draw Blue Fin Boat has a similar sentiment to Ben and said, “Basically my passion is fishing, so why not enter the Flathead Classic and fish for three days with my mates?”
The feeling that the Classic is a way to get on the water with your mates and have a good time in a good atmosphere was a common thread. Jamie Douglas takes it one step further and has a real passion for the comp and sums up his reasons by saying, “We [his team] enter the Classic as it is by far the best organised and most easy going competition we’ve ever been involved with, the camaraderie and the openness of fellow competitors to pass on info and tips is awesome. All round just a stress free, fun comp”.
The comp doesn’t just attract blokes and their mates, the Flathead Classic encompasses all ages and genders and this year will be the first for Allgirls Fishing’s Anje Kaimuko. Anje just started fishing and is really looking forward to learning as much as she can and simply having a good time. Anje said, “I’m hoping for perfect weather, my PB flathead and lots of laughs. I’d encourage all girls and kids to jump in and have a go. It’s a family event and I think if any of the guys have spots on their boats they should be bringing there wives or daughters - who knows, they might just catch a winner”.
As far as juniors go, Thomas Ryan is a long timer who has fished five Classics and has graduated from the junior ranks to now mixing it up with the seniors. Thomas fishes the Classic because, “It's a very friendly comp and a great couple of days with plenty of good mates, lots of fishing and I meet new people”.
Most of the people interviewed enjoy the atmosphere of the tournament and the chance to catch up with mates and rivals. The fact that this comp allows you to fish with mates, has few demands in the mornings and allows people to catch up at night and get fed well is a big factor in their enjoyment of the comp.
Ben Job said, “I would have to say the most enjoyable aspect of the Classic is the rivalry. Some of the competitors I have fished against since I was five years old, but when flathead season comes along, some of my best mates become fierce rivals”.
Danny Sands reckons, “Obviously the fishing, but also being able to catch up with people who share the same passion I have and sharing stories and techniques is a bonus,” which is all part of the nightly catch up.
Jamie Douglas said, “I find the most enjoyable aspect is the simplest one! Being out on the water with great company doing something we love amongst other like-minded anglers is simply a treat”.
Glen Birch travels from Bundaberg with mates every year and he reckons, “For myself and the crew from Bundy it's got to be catching up and having a beer with the amazing guys and girls from the sports fishing club. Right from day one everybody has been more than happy to share their knowledge with us, which has helped us not only in the comp but also in our fishing back home. To have this many great anglers in one place you can't help but learn new skills and techniques each year. Oh, and I forgot to mention the fishing on the coast is first class. I caught my best flatty there last year at 88cm with some tips from the club president - thanks Christine”.
And perhaps the reason that most closely resembles my interest in the comp is Anthony Fullarton’s. He said “Basically my passion is fishing, so why not enter the Classic and fish for three days with my mates?” Why not indeed?
While tournament fishing can be a full on, go-hard-at-it experience for the most keen, it’s tournaments like the Flathead Classic that bring this down a level and make a great competition accessible to just about everyone. I know our team of Shane McKee, Shane Juttner and I fish hard, but the entire comp we are more focussed on beating each other than the other competitors. There’s nothing like the one-upmanship amongst mates. Truth be told it’s nice to finish high in the standings, but if we don’t it isn’t going to destroy us. In fact we’re more likely to talk to the higher placed teams and go and have a crack at their techniques in the following weeks.
So should you have a crack next year?
Yep. Regardless of your angling background, the Flathead Classic lives up to its reputation as providing a family friendly, fun and well run tournament that caters for everyone. Anje said, “Don’t be afraid to jump in and have a go. It’s a great bunch of people and you don't have to be experienced and, anyway, why should men have all the fun? It’s a family event and I think if any of the guys have spots on their boats they should be bringing their wives and daughters. Who knows they might just catch a winner”.
And again Anthony Fullarton sums up most of the interviewee’s feeling by saying “You know how kids feel about Christmas? This is how I feel about the Flathead Classic. As soon as one finishes I can't wait for the next to start”.
While it’s probably too late to enter this year (unless you got an early subscriber copy), make sure you stay in touch with the Flathead Classic for next year. The Gold Coast Sportfishing Club does a wonderful job and grow this event every year I have fished it – this is my fifth year straight. Check out their website at www.goldcoastsportfishingclub.com.au for results or grab the next issue of QFM for a full wrap up on who did what and how.Reads: 880