Second Greg Whitehead Fishing Challenge
  |  First Published: October 2016

The second Greg Whitehead Fishing Challenge took place from 19-21 August at Lake Burrinjuck. The event was created in 2015 by Stuart Cattanach, in memory of his friend Greg, a local legend in the town of Harden and excellent angler, who sadly passed away from brain cancer in November 2014.

In 2015, the event raised $14,000 for The Brain Cancer Foundation and after last years sterling effort, everyone involved in the competition was very eager to continue to build on this success.

Points were awarded for carp, redfin, golden perch and Murray cod in the ‘teams’ category while there were also individual prizes on offer. Competitors were given a brag mat and tag and were asked to photograph their catch before release. To record their points, anglers had to show a photo of their catch to the marshals. Anglers could use bait or lure.

The competition started at 12pm on the Friday with anglers fishing from boats, kayaks and from the shore. The weather was good and despite a decent wind, anglers were able to push up into the ‘Bidgee arm to target native and pest species. Within the first hour of the Friday session, many anglers had already caught cod and yellowbelly and by the time the weather turned at around 3pm, most anglers were returning to the boat ramp having recorded significant numbers of fish.

I spent the Friday session fishing with Troy Erland from GR Lures and Codey Flack. Both anglers caught some good fish with Codey picking up a nice yella on a Jackall TN70. However, Friday belonged to the junior anglers with an 81cm cod coming to net and a 52.5cm yellowbelly also landed by two young fishos casting right next to the boat ramp.

Friday evening brought 20mm of rain and this continued through into Saturday morning. Many anglers either stayed in their cabins or spent time around the marshalling station checking out the latest creations by Gobsmacked Lures and Jolly Roger Spinnerbaits who had both set up stalls. For those who braved the weather however the rewards were amazing with competitors recording some exceptional captures. One such angler was Jason Swan, who caught a 91.5cm cod just past Wade Island.

Though the weather cleared Sunday, the bigger fish proved elusive. That said, there was still plenty of action to be had with yellowbelly and redfin hitting Jackalls, Jackpot Spinnerbaits and deep divers like AC Invaders along with soft plastics bounced along the bottom and rolled up the sunken trees.

Jason’s cod was not beaten on the final day, meaning he took home first prize in the individual cod category while Brett Sullivan won biggest yella (55.5cm), Steve Woods won biggest redfin and Anthony Steel won biggest carp. In the teams category, team Tight Lines took home the Greg Whitehead Memorial Trophy followed by team The Party Boat in second place and team Weapons Custom Rods in third. The winner of the major prize (a Quintrex F390 Explorer) went to Luke Carmody.

However, the Greg Whitehead Fishing Challenge is all about Greg, his amazing impact on the town of Harden and raising money for The Brain Cancer Foundation through raffles, BBQs and entry fees. There were two raffles run during the comp, one of which attracted enormous interest because it involved a selection of unique ‘one off’ lures created by some of the amazing sponsors. Jackpot Spinnerbaits, Gobsmacked Lures, GR Lures, Skeleton Spinnerbaits, Last Cast Spinnerbaits and PRH Lures all put up some epic creations and should be commended for helping to raise even more money for the cause. Sponsors like MA Steel and Ifish Comps also played an important part in donating money towards the Quintrex Explorer.

The prizes also warrant special mention. Fishing Monthly gave a year’s subscription to the winner and half price subscriptions to every entrant. Shimano provided prize packs containing some epic gear while each lure sponsor (some of which I have already listed) like Jackall and Predatek along with Noxious Spinnerbaits and The Swimbait Specialist gave enormous amounts of lures, which were placed in prize packs. Otto’s Tackleworld Canberra gave gift vouchers to the winners with a value of up to $1,000, and a chartered fishing trip with Aussie Estuary Adventures was also part of the overall winners haul.

This is a very special fishing competition. The sense of community at the event, the generosity of the organisers, sponsors and anglers coupled with the eagerness of the pro fishos to help the younger generation make it one of the best comps on the calendar and one that will provide many happy memories for years to come.

Special thanks must go to Stuart and his partner Leanne who put together the competition and who spent the last year preparing. They are amazing people who give so freely to support such a worthy cause. It is also important to thank all the sponsors. There are just too many to name but they are all listed on the promotional page.

This year the competition raised over $20,000, which is a remarkable achievement and next year is expected to be even bigger.

– Toby Grundy

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