Hinchinbrook tournament
  |  First Published: July 2006

I had the pleasure of being invited to fish the Hinchinbrook tournament in late May and after the big wet I was looking forward to seeing what had changed in the system.

The weather was pretty ordinary with strong winds and rain giving us grief for the first few days before Mother Nature came to the rescue and produced two perfect days for the tournament. The north’s wet season had caused all the main rivers flood more than once, so the channel had a distinct brown colour. Prior to the competition we struggled to find clean water to fish but still managed a few barra and some small jacks mostly taken on Tilsan Barra’s and gold Bombers.

Day 1

Before the tournament Steve, my team Polycraft fishing partner, and I thought we would be lucky to record a scoring fish. At 1pm, when we only had two estuary cod on board, it still didn’t look good.

It was at this stage that the tide really started to run-out and exposed the channel’s numerous snags. Steve and I are both good snag anglers so by the time 5pm came around we had 19 scoring fish in the boat including barra, jacks, bream, grunter and cod.

At dinner that night we were expecting to be sitting mid-field. Having experienced a fairly hot bite we figured the other 49 teams would have found the fish as willing as we did, but this was not the case and most of the field was struggling. In fact, once all the team scores were up we were in second place behind Rob and Matt Pearce. These down to Earth guys are as honest as the day is long and it was a pleasure to be sitting behind them on the ladder. We wouldn’t have minded at all if they kept their form and won the event.

Day 2

On day two, we all lined up for the shotgun start and hit the hammer after the horn only to realize very quickly that the tide was an hour later and a bit smaller. This meant the shortcut across the sand bar was so shallow that all of the impatient front-of-the-field boats couldn’t get up on the plane in the 12” of water that we were sitting in.

It was pretty funny seeing some very flash rigs throwing up big rooster tails of sand and mud in an attempt to get to deeper water as the guys who sat at the back of the pack sped down the channel.

When we finally got going we headed up the channel trying to get in front of the tide. We did and managed to get on the score sheet early with a big bream, a couple of jacks and a few cod.

As the tide turned it was evident it was smaller than the day before and didn’t have that hard run that got the fish chewing on day one. We stuck at it and managed to pull a few more jacks, a lone trevally on a surface popper and one more barra. It was a lot slower than the run-out the day before but we still put 18 scoring fish in the boat.

We knew only having the one barra would mean we were not going to challenge for the top spot but we were happy that we had fished as hard and as smart as we could for the tournament.

In the wash up Team Penn came up with the goods getting into the barra on the second day. Lindsay Dobe and Jason Swan were deserved winners and crowd favourites. Unfortunately, Rob and Matt were unable to keep the barra coming and they finished sixth. We managed to hold fourth down and we also won the trophies for the estuary cod, grunter, bream and the mangrove jack so we certainly didn’t leave empty handed.

Duncan Mcsplash

I always enjoy my mate Steve’s company. We get on well, have lots of laughs and have the same insane commitment to sportfishing so it’s with great pleasure I get to tell this story.

It was around midday on day two of the tournament with several large crocs sittings in the area we were fishing when I managed to get my lure stuck on a submerged snag up a pretty narrow creek, I was driving the Minn Kota and swung the boat around to get my lure off, Steve immediately took the opportunity to do something else. As I poked the lure off and started driving back towards the middle of the creek, the Polycraft stopped on another submerged log.

I put the electric in top speed and tried to free the boat from the snag. After that didn’t work I suggested Steve take his rather generous frame to the front of the boat. Steve climbed off the back and jumped up on the front deck, which immediately freed the boat. The electric motor kicked in and the boat took off at flat out only to stop abruptly when the motor on the back hit the log. The laws of physics meant both Steve and I were in a lot of trouble.

I was lucky enough to have time to put my rod down before realizing there was nothing to hold on to and in I went. As I hit the bottom and shot back to the surface I looked at the boat and didn’t see Steve. I started to laugh when I saw his hat floating on the surface and realized he was in too. I quickly swam to the boat and jumped over the side turning off the motor and watching Steve struggling to swim with his rod in one hand and his sunglasses in the other. For a big fellow he flew over the side of the Poly like gazelle. It’s amazing what seeing big crocs can do for motivation. – Jason Medcalf

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