The Ballarat Fly Fishers club recently hosted the 2015 Oceanic Fly Fishing Championships on Lake Wendouree and Lake Fyans with teams from Australia, New Zealand and Canada competing for the Oceanic title.
The Oceanic Fly Fishing Competition started back in 1996 with the idea of giving the fly fishers from Australia, New Zealand and Canada a chance every 2 years to compete on the world stage in readiness for the World and Commonwealth Fly Fishing Championships. Fly fishers from this part of the world didn’t get enough exposure to the pressure cooker environment of competitive fly fishing unlike their competitors in the European countries that have European Championships. For a lot of the fly fishers competing, it is their livelihoods, not just a hobby like our guys here in Australia.
Royce Baxter, a member of the Ballarat Fly Fishers Club and also National President and chairman of selectors, ten times representative of Australia in World and Commonwealth fly fishing championships was the Oceanic Championships organizer for 2015. Royce with many members of the Ballarat Fly Fishers club put a programme together to run this year’s event, which is by no means easy to coordinate.
The logistics of running the competition started nearly 2 years ago straight after the last Oceanic Championships, which were held in New Zealand. We had to organize venues, travel arrangements, boats, transport, catering, licences and fish stockings. Over time and after many meetings at the Ballarat Fly Fishers clubrooms everything came together to host the 2015 Oceanic Fly Fishing Championships and we were lucky enough to gain a major sponsor from one of our local businesses, Ballarat Mazda, to be able to transport competitors and boats in between venues.
Fisheries Victoria was also a very big contributor to the competition releasing over 3000 2-year-old rainbow trout up to 45cm in length into both Lake Wendouree and Lake Fyans, which was a massive bonus for everyone, as the competitions are all catch and release. We will have some excellent fishing for months and years to come from this event – that’s a win for everyone.
The 2015 Oceanic Championships was going to be completed by two teams from Australia, two teams from New Zealand and one from Canada. The competition was going to be run with 5 three-hour fishing sessions
Day one was at Lake Wendouree with sessions at 9am-12noon and 1pm-4pm. Day two was at Lake Fyans with sessions at 9am-12noon and 1-4pm. Day three was the final session and was held at Lake Wendouree and the session went from 9am-12noon.
Australia had two teams competing in the 2015 Oceanic Championships, which were Australia Gold and Green and these teams consisted of fly fishers from all over Australia. To gain entry into these teams is by no means an easy feat, you have to compete in state championships as well as national championships, which takes up plenty of time, money and effort and covers thousands of kilometres, and catch fish on a consistent basis in all weather conditions on rivers and also lakes.
The competition started off with two practice sessions on both venues, and over these days the fly fishers gained some valuable insight and knowledge into what the fish were feeding on.
Day one of competition on Lake Wendouree saw the fishing start off with a bang with plenty caught in the morning session with overcast cloudy conditions and a good breeze. Josh Flower from Tasmania and a member of the Australia Gold team ended up scooping the pool with 7 fish.
The second session proved to be very difficult with bright blue skies and hardly, if any, wind at all, which makes fly fishing on Lake Wendouree very difficult due to the shallowness of the lake. When this happens, the fish seem to just sit down in the weed and are not very active at all.
Day two of competition saw fly fishers in cars and boats in tow heading up to picturesque Lake Fyans at the foot of the Grampians. The weather conditions played a big part in proceedings again in the third and fourth sessions with some patchy cloud and light to variable wind conditions with most fly fishers being able to catch a fish.
Lake Fyans is a different fishery to Lake Wendouree with the main difference being water depth of up to 6m compared to 2m in Wendouree.
The challenge to the Oceanic competitors was to work out what the fish were feeding on during the hours of the competition and have the flies that the trout would eat.
Day three of competition and the last session saw the results neck and neck between Australia Gold and New Zealand Silver. Conditions that greeted competitors was not too bad for fly fishing Wendouree, with a bit of cloud and a good breeze. The fly fishers were full of optimism with these conditions, and it was down to three hours of competition to decide who would win. Would the Aussies bring home the gold or would the Kiwis steal it out from underneath our eyes.
Rods were rigged, game plans in place and the gong went off! Boats headed in every direction on Lake Wendouree, and it was just a waiting game for the next three hours to see who wins the Oceanic Championship for 2015. The anglers returned, some with smiles others with long faces, and there were plenty of tales of the one that got away.
The competition has a massive success for all concerned. A lot of time, effort and work was put in by a lot of people to run the event, and over the competition with 25 fly fishermen competiting over 15 hours of fishing time there was 172 trout caught and released. The most successful fly patterns used by competitors over the competition were the Tom Jones, Magoo, Shrek, Coral and JD Damsel.
Congratulations to the Australia Gold team on winning the Oceanic Fly Fishing competition for 2015, of which two Ballarat Fly Fishers club members Brian Hughes and Tom Jarman were a part of. – Shane Stevens.
2ndNew Zealand Silver
3rdNew Zealand Black
|1stChris Young||New Zealand|
|3rdPaul Baker||New Zealand|
Photo courtesy of Chris Young.
Photo courtesy of Chris Doody.
Photo courtesy of Chris Doody.
Photo courtesy of Brian Hughes.Reads: 815