The Gold Coast Sportfishing Club Flathead Classic is somewhat of an institution in angling circles. For many anglers and tournaments, it led the way in regards to catch and release tournament fishing where those who caught and released the most fish were hailed the winners.
In 2008, the Flathead Classic reached its highest peak, with 337 anglers competing to be part of the winning team, or to be crowned the current flathead fishing champion. But unlike other species-specific tournaments, the Flathead Classic rewards anglers who can catch other species; mulloway, jacks, tailor and whiting prizes, just to name a few.
This year’s tournament was held from October 1 through to October 4 and it was the first year that Queensland Fishing Monthly entered a dedicated team. And as luck would have it, or was that just good planning on my behalf, I managed to sneak a spot on the team along with Shayne McKee and Greg Livingstone.
With weather forecasts against the crews, this year’s tournament was always going to be a tough one for anglers. With 15-30 knot winds forecast on all three days, many anglers were looking for sheltered water in which to fish and still catch enough flathead to get amongst the leaders.
The wind was from the north and it swung the full 180 degrees from east through to west throughout all three days, and the anglers who were in control of the electric outboards had more than enough work for themselves without having to try to catch a flathead or five.
We fished the Jumpinpin area, like a lot of other competitors, because much of the bank was protected from the strong winds. However, others still battled it out in their own little exposed secret spots and, luckily, flathead were found in most areas.
Early on day one we made our way down to Kalinga Bank near the Jumpinpin and set up our drift. The tide was coming in on the first morning so we started our drift as close to the start of Kalinga Bank as we could, and when the clock ticked over to 6.30am, our lines went out in anticipation.
We didn’t have to wait long. In the first 10 minutes we’d landed a couple of respectable flathead and our spirits were high. It seemed the flathead were making a good show of themselves on day one as boats all around us were seen reaching for nets and landing quality fish.
By 8am the wind had arrived making life hard for anglers, however, the fish kept being caught. After the calculations were made it was Logan River Marine that lead the teams section with a very nice 1987 points. Leading the individual stakes was Guy McConell with an even 900 points.
Day two saw more boats pile into the Jumpinpin area where the islands and North Stradbroke Island protected the waters from the wind. We chose to fish near Cabbage Tree Point first up and collected a very handy 250 points before joining the masses at Kalinga.
The action had slowed after the first day, but the average fish size was up. Day two became a game of patience as you had to wait on your lure passing close to a fish to interest it enough to have a go. By lunchtime on day two we thought every fish in the Jumpinpin area had seen plenty of boats and could just about name the lure brands, the leader material and the main line!
Still great fish were caught by the good anglers and day two saw Team Sands lift above Logan River Maine in the team’s event with 2660 points. The individual angler title saw Flathead Classic stalwart Ross McCubbin move to the lead with a great personal tally of 1428 points.
The final day of the competition was only a half day and it was the last chance for anglers to have an impact. With a five and a half hour session before the finish most teams would be fishing hard and to the death to try to claim just a few more valuable points.
We fished early around Cabbage tree again and got a sneaky 250 points before braving the crowds down at Jumpinpin. Here we worked our way through countless casts to connect with enough big fish that we could have challenged for the lead. But as is the case with all good fishing stories, the big fish just refused to come in. We had lures swim out of fish’s mouths at the boat, big flathead chew through the leader and clouds of mud as big fish failed to find the hook.
But the leaders all accumulated more fish and more points and we all anxiously awaited the tally at the final presentation.
After a beautiful BBQ lunch and desert we got ready for the big announcements and found out that Team Sands had maintained their day two lead and finished first with 3218 points. In the individual stakes Ross McCubbin stole the limelight with a fantastic individual effort of 1704 points. The Junior Section was taken out by Robbie Daly with a respectable 542 points and the Champion Female Team was taken out by Flick Chicks with 1916 points, and Flick Chicks team member Tracey Mammen outpaced her team mate Christine Hunt to win the Champion Female Angler with 1422 points.
I asked the Flick Chicks how they found the competition and what they did to prepare for the event and all I can say is these two girls go hard at it.
To use their words:
We set out to make amends after a pretty ordinary comp in 2007. This was only our second competition so we spent a lot of time practicing a variety of techniques.
We did a lot of practice in deep water trying to hunt the bigger lizards, and this paid off in the comp.
Our main fishing location was Jumpinpin as our pre-fish had indicated there were more flatties hitting plastics up that way.
We were challenged to keep the plastics on the bottom with a big current and strong northerlies, so we fished a little heavier than normal, up to 1oz jigheads. This meant we snagged up a bit and lost a bit of gear, which can be frustrating. The conditions demanded an electric motor with strong battery charge to keep you on the fish. The technique paid dividends and we scored some big fish.
On day one we boated three big flathead over 70cm in 30 minutes and a few 50-60cm fish followed.
Our preferred and most successful lures were 5” Atomic Shads. When the current was too strong we headed to weed beds and drop-offs to work smaller lures such as the Berkley Gulp Swimming Mullet and Atomic Prong Guzzlerz and smaller shad-type plastics. Before the comp we spent a lot of time experimenting between a slow and aggressive retrieve. Tracey is quite fanatical with her retrieve and has very specific retrieve styles for different plastics and this change of presentation worked well throughout the tournament.
This story is typical of the leaders with most fishing deeper water to find their fill of big fish. We concentrated on the shallows to find our fish and we’ve now vowed to learn how to fish deep in preparation for next year.
All in all a fun competition was had by everyone and the Gold Coast Sportfishing Club should be congratulated on organising, feeding and calculating results for 337 individuals. It’s a massive task, especially when 1885 flathead were caught over two and a half days.
Next year’s dates have already been pencilled in with registration starting on September 30 and the competition days running over October 1, 2 and 3. For the latest information log onto www.flatheadclassic.com.au.
|Champion 3-Angler Team:||Team Sands (3281)|
|Champion 3-Angler Team Runner-up:||Logan River Marine (3073)|
|Champion 2-Angler Team:||Get Jiggy With It (2098)|
|Champion 2-Angler Team Runner-up:||Flick Chicks (1916)|
|Champion Female Team:||Flick Chicks (1916)|
|Champion Angler Senior:||Ross McCubbin –Team Atomic (1704)|
|Champion Angler Senior Runner-up:||Corey Tarr – Logan River Marine (1455)|
|Champion Female Angler:||Tracey Mammen – Flick Chicks (1422)|
|Champion Female Angler Runner-up:||Christine Hunt – Flick Chicks (494)|
|Champion Angler Junior:||Robbie Daly – Flatty Flatteners (542)|
|Champion Angler Junior Runner-up:||Tom Ryan – Matt Tee (359)|
|Longest Flathead Senior:||Brett Howell – Team Hinterland Marine, Corey Tarr – Logan River Marine (90cm)|
|Longest Flathead Fly:||None Captured|
|Longest Flathead Junior:||Robbie Daly – Flatty Flatteners (81cm)|
|Longest Flathead on Hard Body:||Brett Howell – Team hinterland Marine (90cm)|
|Longest Flathead on Soft Plastic:||Corey Tarr – Logan River Marine (90cm)|
|Longest Bream:||Les Tselepy – Croc Hunters (36cm)|
|Longest Mangrove Jack:||Keith Bryant – Team Bryant (28cm)|
|Longest Estuary Cod:||Stuart McCready – Wanchors (45cm)|
|Longest Mulloway:||Wayne Lodington – Team Gamakatsu (115cm)|
|Longest Trevally:||Michael McErlan – Team "What The" (58cm)|
|Longest Tarpon:||None Captured|
|Longest Whiting:||Robert Dakic – Itchy Tackle, Scott Cottance – Flat Out (31cm)|
|Longest Tailor:||Joshua Ward - Mean Green Fishing Machine (34cm)|
|Most Metres Senior:||Ross McCubbin – Team Atomic (12.76m)|
|Most Metres Junior:||Robbie Daly – Flatty Flatteners (4.3m)|
|Most Fish:||Shane Brown – Team Dog (30 flathead)|
|Total flathead caught:||1885|
Top 20 Teams
|2||Logan River Marine||3073|
|4||Hinterland Marine Evinrude||2494|
|5||Queensland Fishing Monthly||2407|
|7||Get Jiggy With It||2098|
|16||The Marlin Hunters Health Retreat||1377|
|20||Team Hinterland Tavern||1194|
Top 20 Senior Anglers