Once again, and for the third consecutive year, we had a team of Australians off to compete in China at the Shengzhong Lake China Open Championship.
With Aussies taking the honours in 2013 and 2014 events, including the trifecta on last years podium, taking home more than $110,000 USD, we looked forward to this year’s event with a few changes.
This year, the China Angling Association along with their sponsors, informed us that there would be a reduced Australian team of 4 competing against 16 internationals, and 60 Chinese with total prize money reduced from $80,000USD to $50,000USD. First prize was reduced from $30,000USD to $15,000USD.
All competitors would again be fishing out of identical Hobie Pro Angler 14 kayaks fitted with Hobie livewell, Lowrance sounder and a wide angle camera mounted at the front of the kayak. This year’s event would be telecasted live on national television, using the camera footage from the kayak for the live feed.
The Aussie team selected was Scott Lovig, Carl Dubois, Richard Somerton and myself after we took the top 4 positions from last year. Although numbers were stacked against us and expecting some Chinese followers on the water, we were still confident one of us could steal top spot again.
The rules were the same this year with the traditional 5 fish weigh-in, with the total combined bag weight from both days. Red tail and top mouth culter were the main targets, but the elusive catfish was always going to be a tournament winning catch as a single catfish in the well was sure to outweigh a bag of 5 Culter.
The opening ceremony didn’t disappoint us, with a big crowd of around 20,000 watching on in steamy conditions. The next day we headed out on the water for a 6 hour pre-fish. With only a 4 man team, we aimed to cover as much of the fishing area as possible trying different lures and techniques. Knowing that we may have some followers, we left our ‘honey holes’ for Day 1. Confidence was high at the end of the day with all of us finding fish, falling to our ‘go to’ lures and technique. As expected, the Chinese had done some homework, or watched our on board cameras from last year, and happily showed us that they were now using similar lures. It was going to be an interesting competition!
Day one started with the alarm chiming at 4:30am for a 5:30am bus ride to the event waters. We were concerned how event staff and volunteers would get 80 anglers onto the kayaks in time for the start, but to their credit it all went reasonably smoothly.
We began, legs pumping to beat others to our spots, with the usual 3 or 4 Chinese anglers riding our tails!
At the end of the day, 3 of the 4 Aussies had full bags, but news spreads quickly and we soon learned that one of the Chinese anglers (Xiaohong Ma) had caught 2 catfish with a bag weight of 4.23kg!
This put a serious dent in our quest for a 3rd title position.
With a win looking unlikely, we set out to get solid bags of culter, knowing that a pressured system may not fish as well as Day 1. I struggled, battling through the day to find only 3 fish, but of better quality. Richard also had to tough it out, managing to finalise his full bag in the last half hour of the day and Carl, also filling his bag early and putting both in contention for a podium finish. After final weigh-in, Richard and Carl held on to finish on the podium with 2nd and 3rd respectfully and myself lucky enough to secure 6th.
Excellent effort by the Australian team, and our international competitors!
Three Aussies in the top 10 after day one
Final Results (Top 10)
|Place||Name||Weight (kg)||Prize Money|
|1||Xiaohong Ma (China)||5.01||$15,000USD|
|2||Richard Somerton (Aust.)||3.50||$9,000USD|
|3||Carl Dubois (Aust.)||3.43||$6,000USD|
|4||Chris Floyd (NZ)||2.99||$4,500USD|
|5||Jinbin Wu (China)||2.96||$3,500USD|
|6||Matt Petrie (Aust.)||2.84||$2,500USD|
|7||Joseph Kraatz (USA)||2.75||$2,500USD|
|8||Max Tan Kheng Yeow (Sing.)||2.66||$2,000USD|
|9||Sean Brickland (NZ)||2.54||$2,000USD|
|10||Lars Lundberg (Sweden)||2.53||$1,500USD|