The first annual 'Big Catch' fishing competition was held on Saturday 10th of February in Apollo Bay as part of the Great Ocean Sports Festival. With over 500 fishing, cycling and surf life saving competitors attending the weekend the town was buzzing with a carnival atmosphere.
The Big Catch kicked off the festival with a 6am start that was dampened by some light drizzle, but as the day went on the weather improved into a warm sunny afternoon. Anglers were scattered between Kennett River and Aire River, and fishing land-based or boating they were targeting allocated species including snapper, flathead, King George whiting, sharks and bream.
Each angler was allocated a measuring tape on which digital photos of fish were to be taken allowing fish to be released back into the water if so desired. Photos were then downloaded into the main computer and winners calculated from there. This system ran smoothly and competitors were all smiles as they enjoyed the social atmosphere at the boat ramp, which included cricketing legend, fishing author and all round nice guy Merv Hughes.
Aussie Boat Sales (the major sponsor) had people drooling over some new Mustang boats they had on display including a 2250 Walkaround and a 545 Clubsport. Fisheries officers and the water police also attended the competition making sure everyone was safe and behaving themselves. Plenty of fish were landed and just about everyone caught something worthy of a photo.
The day was not without drama with one competitor returning to the ramp by 9.30am after a wave broke over his 6m boat some kilometres offshore. There were also plenty of seasick anglers, even those who claimed they never got seasick, which is an indication of the conditions on the day.
The competition finished at 6pm but the fun was just beginning as awards were handed out back at the Apollo Bay Surf Life Saving Club. Thanks to some very generous sponsors there was an enormous amount of prizes, trophies and giveaways handed out by Merv who whipped the kids into a frenzy as prizes were tossed into the crowd at the end of presentations. The social activities continued well into the night and a great time was had by all.
The Great Ocean Sports Festival would like to thank the following for their help and kind donations: Aussie Boat Sales, Merv Hughes, Daniel Kent, Matt Learmonth, Ben Sandman, Lowrance, Shimano, Victoria Fishing Monthly Magazine, AFN, Colac Otway Shire, Fishvictoria.com, Juro, Pure Fishing, L Wilson & Co., Surf-n-Fish, Apollo Bay Surf Shop, Damien Petrie Traffic Management, DPI and Victoria Police.
Grand Slam, Mathew Kearton
Snapper, Brent Wilson 44cm
Flathead, Brent Wilson 64cm
King George Whiting, Craig Rippon 42.5cm
Shark, Craig Rippon 200cm
Bream, Lance Cahill 36cm
Junior Grand Slam, Aiden Pipper
Junior Longest Fish, Kane Roberts
Junior Mystery Length, Indy Ryan
Junior Lucky Tag, Jack Kettle
Mystery Length Snapper, Dean Candy
Mystery Length Flathead, Sandra Gay
Mystery Length King George Whiting, Mark Garret
Mystery Length Shark, Charlie Buchanan
Mystery Length Bream, Mathew March