For all you knuckleheads that were not in Echuca-Moama on the weekend of March 23rd-25th, you have just missed another fantastic fishing competition run by the crew at the Echuca-Moama RSL & Citizens Club. This is really starting to gain a reputation as one of the better run comps and is a must-fish for all native fish nuts.
This year’s competition had an attendance of 858 registered competitors, all searching every nook and cranny of the 22km of fishable water in an attempt to catch a legend - namely the mighty Murray cod. The weekend got off to a great start on the Friday night at the RSL Club with a massive raffle where 70 prizes valued at over $100 each were on offer. The main talk amongst anglers was about what tactics were going to be used to land the winner.
Early on Saturday morning, the first day of competition, anglers were greeted with rain (which put smiles on the farmers’ faces) and cool southerly winds. This was the direct opposite of the previous day where temperatures were nudging 39oC with howling northerlies. It wasn’t the greatest start to a fishing comp, but it wasn’t long before the rain cleared and some sun starting bursting through. The one thing that did stick around the whole comp was the cool, strong southerlies.
One big change from competitions of the past was many anglers taking the step away from cheese baits to more conventional baits and deep-diving lures or spinnerbaits. Trolling seemed to be the pick of the methods because the wind made casting into snags a tad difficult - though some did persist with casting for fair results.
The bait guys were very quick to tie up to the best snags out of the wind to enjoy their day soaking their favourite baits.
Some absolute snorker cod were measured at the end of Day One, with the two anglers atop of the leader board having presented massive 120cm cod to the on-river marshals for measuring. One of these monster cod was taken with only 15 minutes remaining before the first day’s fishing was over.
Back at the Club, Saturday night again saw another 50 raffle prizes of $100 up for grabs, but the bloke who walked out of the RSL Club with the biggest smile was Kevin Crisp from Echuca, whose registration number was drawn from the field of all registered anglers to win the first boat/motor/trailer package valued at $6,000. Not a bad return for a $30 entry fee and a few days’ fishing with your mates.
Fishing time on Sunday was from 7-11am so if you didn’t have a registered fish, this was your last chance to get out amongst them and try to get on the board. All the best spots spoken about at the Club on Saturday night were quickly snapped up by the early birds for their last ditch effort to outwit a native fish. Some of the leaders were holding their cards very close to their chest, not letting out any secrets so they could get back to their special hotspot alone.
With all the fishing done and dusted by 11am Sunday, it was back to the RSL Club to chow down on the free BBQ while Barefoot Dave and some blow-in from Mulwala (namely Tony Bennett) entertained the crowd with a very clever casting demonstration. The presentations got into full swing around 1.30pm, with the huge back lawns of the Club full of anglers waiting to hear if they were winners in their category.
The joint winners of the longest Murray cod were Phil Toose and Darren Rowe who couldn’t be separated, both catching 120cm Murray cod. Phil took his fish on a trolled black and silver StumpJumper, while Darren caught his on “a large purple lure”.
The RSL kept up their end of the bargain on Monday morning releasing $5,000 worth of native fish back into the Murray River at designated spots.
Next year’s comp looks like having a teams section added so if you have a club or a bunch of mates that want a bit of a fish, tons of laughs, heaps of fun and a chance to win one of three boat/motor/trailer packages, then make sure you make a bee-line to the Echuca-Moama RSL & Citizens Club Fishing Competition on the March 14th-16th, 2008.
The RSL would like to thank major sponsors Star Games, Evinrude/BRP and Gone Fishing & Murray River Marine for all their fantastic support. See you all next year. – Phill Jones
Total registered anglers: 858
Total Fish caught
Murray Cod: 91
Golden Perch: 31
Champion senior angler: Noel Whyte from Echuca
Champion junior angler: Ashley Parkinson from Seabrook
Fishing Classic Major Prize ($7,200 boat/motor/trailer package) for a legal native fish: John Atkin from Castlemaine
Foyer $1,599 boat/motor/trailer package raffle winner: Neal Barlow from Meadow Heights
Big Boat Giveaway $6,000 boat/motor/trailer package: Kevin Crisp from Echuca