2015 Shimano ‘Reel it in’ Flathead Challenge
  |  First Published: January 2016

Road trips began as early as a week before. From Geelong in the south, as far as Rockhampton in the north, teams of fishers converged on the picturesque town of Mallacoota for Victoria’s premier flathead weekend. The annual Shimano ‘Reel it in’ Flathead Challenge was held on the weekend of 14-15 November in 2015 and brought great excitement to the township of Mallacoota, with 54 teams and 154 anglers keen and ready to go. Only 5 teams were local.

The local eateries were doing a great trade and the hotel was buzzing – definitely the place to be for a good yarn and a couple of frothy beers. After the complete wash out on the Sunday of 2014, and some soaking mid-week rain, the teams closely monitored the weather forecast hoping for better conditions. The weather was looking pretty good for the weekend. But the downpour in the middle of the week would end up having the greatest effect on the fishing and results.

Those that braved the conditions on those two mid-week days were rewarded with some great fishing. Flathead over 60cm were caught readily and anticipation for the weekend heightened. Despite the rain, the water clarity remained fairly good, even up around Gypsy Point and Cape Horn. But the two main arteries of Mallacoota Inlet, the Genoa and Wallagarugh Rivers were carrying plenty of fresh water that would soon change this. Friday evening at the Mallacoota Hotel saw the briefing take place, and anglers were able to grab their bag of goodies that included jigheads, Squidgies, their 2015 shirts and most importantly the bragmat they would have to use over the weekend.

Day One

Saturday morning after a quick coffee and toasted sandwich from the local cafe that was kind enough to open their doors early for the event, punters were greeted with glorious sunshine and light winds upon reaching the Karbethong ramp. Teams were keen and launched their boats up to 90 minutes before the scheduled start. Once all teams were ready, the 54 boats were released in a safe sequence and raced off to hit their favourite spots, take advantage of the light winds, and get started on catching their 10 fish limit.

An incredible number of fish were caught and released on this day, but it seemed that 95% of them were between 32-45cm. Teams that put their hopes on heading upstream to areas like Cape Horn, that had fished so well earlier in the week, were greeted with water that had lost that beautiful tannin colour and now resembled the coffee they’d had with breakfast! The water temperature had dropped almost 2°C and it seemed that the better fish were sulking and not interested in a meal of any kind.

The organiser’s boat, which also had a film crew on board from Kaydo Fishing World and Shimano representative Leroy Horton, were out having a casual fish, but more importantly waiting for a phone call that someone had at last landed a better fish – but it was a long wait. At last, around 3pm the phone rang. James Currie from the team Lizard Tamer had found an 83.5cm flathead right up the back of Fairhaven. After much yahooing, filming and photographing, the big breeder was released. This fish was the only 80cm+ for the day.

Only 2 other fish pipped the 70cm mark, and not one fish between 60-69cm was caught. Some of the best flathead anglers in the land were left scratching their heads and hoping for an improvement on the Sunday. Saturday from 5pm back at the headquarters (the hotel), photographs were viewed and lengths tallied.

Team McGrath Lures found themselves on top after Day one with a solid bag of mid to high 40s fish, plus a couple of 50s thrown in, but it was Team Lizard Tamer sitting in second place that looked like the team to beat with that 83.5cm in their bag and some smaller fish that could be easily upgraded.

Day Two

With most teams entering 10 fish on the Saturday, Sunday was all about upgrades. Upgrading would prove to be a hard task as the fresh water that had dirtied up the rivers had now been pushed right down into the bottom lake. This in turn pushed many teams down into the main channel not far from the entrance, but while decent numbers were landed here, the big girls were still not playing the game.

Team Duffrods had other ideas. Languishing in 29th place after Day 1, the boys used ultra light gear like 3lb straight through connected to small hardbodies and blades, and headed into the bays of Double Creek arm where the dirty water hadn’t penetrated as much yet and where the water temperature was up a bit. This proved a winning move as the boys landed 3 fish in the mid 50s and a nice 65.5cm kicker that shot them up the leader board. But would it be enough?

Day 1 leaders, McGrath Lures were struggling to find upgrades, as were most teams. But there was one angler that had other ideas. That angler was James Currie from Lizard Tamer, and like a spicy vindaloo, Currie was on fire! With three 50cm+ upgrades for the day, James ended up with 6 of his team’s top 10 fish which included the biggest fish of the weekend at 83.5cm. This was enough to secure the win for his team ahead of Team Duffrods, who finished a strong 2nd place.

The Lizard Tamers celebrated the weekend taking home almost $9000 worth of prizes, including a Shimano Stella FI 2000 each from major sponsor Shimano. A boat wrap from Form a Sign and some awesome gear from Tonic Eyewear, Nitro Rods, BCF, PFD Australia, Pirtek and Lowrance.

Other sponsors of the event included Kaydo Fishing World, Jigman, Pelican Petes/Caltex, Beachcomer Caravan Park, Kingston Trophies, Sax Scent and the Mallacoota Hotel.

Anglers dug deep into their pockets for charity over the weekend raising over $2000 for Beyond Blue which helps many suffering from anxiety and depression, a truly great cause.

Well done everyone! All had a magnificent weekend at Mallacoota, and already teams are looking forward to the 2016 challenge. – Scott Wakefield

2015 Shimano ‘Reel it in’ Flathead Challenge rules and regulations:

1Fishing times from 7:30am-4pm Saturday and Sunday
2Lures only. No bait but scent allowed.
3Each team’s longest 10 fish over both days will count
42 points are awarded per cm measured. (Eg: 45.5cm = 91 points)
5Each fish must be photographed live on the 2015 Shimano ‘Reel it in’ bragmat with tag clearly visible.
6Photos judged each night at the Mallacoota hotel from 5pm.


Team NamePoints Scored
Lizard Tamer1045
Dusky Busters981
Tsuribaka Tackle968
Hooked on Plastics958
Samurai Megabass954
Shanghai Dusky Hunters952
Voss Motors951
The Crusty Crab938
Team G936
Biggest FishAnglerLength (cm)
Day 1James Currie83.5
Day 2Davide Corio70
Biggest bream Steve Duff44
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