The 2016 Gold Coast Flathead Classic was, just like every other year, a monumental gathering of like-minded individuals, and the competition still remains the biggest fishing tournament in the country!
This year was also a particularly big one, as the club that founded the competition, the Gold Coast Sport Fishing Club, turned 40 this year! The club’s history dates back to 1976 when club founder Don Woodford harnessed the interest of locals keen on fishing. The sharing of knowledge to improve fishing skills is still part of the club today. The club still welcomes any angler into the club, whether you’re an old hand with a boat, or a newbie fishing from the bank.
The weeks before the competition were full of rumours of some gargantuan lizards taken during pre-fishing. Even some of the Fishing Monthly boys kept locations of their captures in pre-fish under their hats, only to be revealed at the conclusion of the competition. The conclusion of the event would see all the secrets come out, but for now, angler lips were sealed tightly.
Last year the competition was won in deep water by the Whyte brothers, so many competitors had put in months to perfect this technique. It certainly seems that the technique or techniques used to win the classic on any given year proceed to become the coolest way to catch flathead for the next year!
What would happen this year was anyone’s guess, and the conditions were lining up to present a bit of a challenge for anglers.
Word on the street was that a few innovative anglers had put in some groundwork perfecting an exciting technique. This competition really does encourage anglers to push the boundaries of what we thought was appropriate for flathead, and completely turn consensus on its head!
The tides this year were very different to last year, with huge tidal differences between high and low, so controlling boats was difficult. While the timing of the tides suited some, others found themselves chasing their tails until they found a tidal stage that suited their fishing style.
As per each year, competitors spread themselves all up and down the Gold Coast to which ever ramp gave them the best access to their chosen haunts for the session. Kick off on 28 September saw the tide still making at 6:30am when it came time to get on the water. This suited the anglers who liked to get up onto flats and either cast or troll to find flathead up in the shallows. On a high tide, flathead are often actively hunting small baitfish, crabs, squid and other small prey. Those who were more comfortable fishing drains and gutters on a dropping tide had to wait. Of course, with any tournament, those who can catch fish under differing conditions and at different time of the day often do very well.
About mid morning on the first day, some uncomfortable rain came through, forcing some to don the wet weather gear and keep fishing… or sit under a bridge and moan.
The weather on day two shifted gears a bit, and so too did the fishing. Anglers were met on day two with barely a cloud in the sky, however, the wind was absolutely howling. Many anglers who would have usually fished in The Broadwater found themselves up the many rivers, creeks and channels the wind their way through the Gold Coast’s topography just to escape it. Even those trolling found controlling the boat in such wind very challenging.
When day three rolled around, most anglers were probably feeling a little sleep-deprived from the nightlife of the Flathead Classic. Nevertheless, many soldiered on to complete their totals on the third day, and the fishing wasn’t nearly as tough as the third day weather-wise. Calmer conditions made motoring along flats, parking up on bait schools or trolling a likely bank much, much easier.
At the conclusion of fishing on the third day at 2pm, competitors flocked to the Northern Pavilion to swap stories of great captures, and lament about those that got away before the all important presentations. The great thing about this competition is that there is no secrets at the end of the tournament, and competitors can cash in on the knowledge of those who spanked ‘em!
Between each session, competitors could enjoy cheap beers, like-minded company, live music and entertainment, as well as dinner each night, which was included in the entry!
To really get the full Flathead Classic experience, you need to get along to these nights. It’s a great setting to mix with like-minded anglers, either celebrate or drown the sorrows of the day, and perhaps sneakily pick up some tips and tricks from those more experienced!
There was also some very exciting lucky draw giveaways, which anyone could potentially win, regardless of whether they weighed in a fish or not.
On the water, it wasn’t just flathead coming over the gunnels. There were many weird and wonderful by-catch measured and recorded, as any by-catch was worth 5 points! To name just a few, a 101cm mulloway and an 80cm trevally were caught by competitors, which would make for some real excitement between flathead captures!
At the end of the competition, the secrets were out, and the stats told an interesting story! A total of 240 teams had entered the comp, with 588 individual competitors entering! A whopping 4195 flathead were caught, and just under half of them were legal. The soft plastic to hardbody ratio was an interesting half and half, with 2121 taken on softies, and 2074 eating hardbodies! Less surprisingly, the most popular lure colour was pink.
The results revealed that the boys at Wilson Fishing had taken out the team event by almost 300 points! Local Franco Martinese took out the individual competition, while in the juniors, young talent Jaimee Horner took out top spot. In the female category, Katie Watsford came in first place, beating the runner up by over 400 points!
The question everyone’s asking every year however, is ‘who took out longest flathead?’, and ‘how long was it?’ Unfortunately, the magic metre mark wasn’t quite reached, and has never been reached in the history of this competition… yet. But, Christian Ross’ 96cm crocodile is extremely impressive, and was enough for him to take out the all-important Longest Flathead title! In the juniors, 86cm did the job for Simon Sweeny.
Over all, The 2016 Gold Coast Flathead Classic was a monumental success once again, and the Gold Coast Sport Fishing Club has gone all out to present a fantastic event. Bring on next year!
Photo courtesy of Gerry Nicholls.
Photo courtesy of Gerry Nicholls.Reads: 142