The third and final round of the hard-fought Australian Freshwater Masters tournament series was staged in mid-February this year on the waters of Lake Mulwala, a picturesque impoundment straddling the NSW/Victorian border, an hour or so west of Albury.
This unique, three-stage challenge targets a trio of iconic Australian native species at three very different venues. The first round of the latest Freshwater Masters took place last November on Lake Windamere, near the NSW regional town of Mudgee, and was devoted to the pursuit of golden perch or yellowbelly. A few days later, round two was staged on Glenbawn Dam, in the Hunter Valley, with Australian bass as the nominated target species. Finally, almost three months later, competitors gathered at Lake Mulwala to hunt the elusive Murray cod.
A catch-and-release series devoted entirely to lure and fly fishing, The Australian Freshwater Masters challenges its field of two-person teams to measure, photograph and release up to 10 legal specimens of each target species at each arena over the course of two days’ of intensive fishing. Cumulative point scores (one point per millimeter) carry forward from round to round, ultimately deciding the outcome of the event.
This year, the eventual winners were Team Starlo’s Squidgies, consisting of high profile fishing communicator, Steve ‘Starlo’ Starling, and his wife Jo. Consistent performances in rounds two and three allowed Starlo and Jo to hold onto the significant lead they’d amassed on Windamere’s goldens in round one (where Jo was also the individual champion angler), finally giving them an 800 point break over the second-placed Jigheads Team of Mitchell Skeers and Brad Gardiner. A further 1,300 points behind in third place was Team Windybanks, made up of Simon McAlpine and David Dobson.
Overall Champion Angler for the Masters was Mitchell Skeers, nearly 1,000 points ahead of Starlo in second, with Simon McAlpine finishing third and Jo Starling fourth. This series also saw the biggest fish ever recorded in the event, with Scott Hartley releasing a stunning 110cm cod during the Mulwala round.
First conceived almost two decades ago by lure-making legend, Wayne Lennon and later run by Dave Silva and then Dave Shelton, The Australian Freshwater Masters is today a well sponsored and superbly organised invitational series with its field strictly capped at 40 teams. Anglers wishing to lodge an expression of interest to be considered for an invitation to the next Masters should send an email to the current chief organiser, Matt Cunneen of Gangster Lures, at --e-mail address hidden-- or give him a call on 0418 653 822. – The Australian Freshwater MastersReads: 901