Unleash the Bonanza

FISH OF THE WEEK: Glen Hepplewhite wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this PB yellowbelly caught and released last Saturday at Glenbawn Dam.
FISH OF THE WEEK: Glen Hepplewhite wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this PB yellowbelly caught and released last Saturday at Glenbawn Dam.

The weekend outlook is looking great for the Bigfish Bonanza Game Fishing Tournament being hosted by Lake Macquarie Game Fishing Club this weekend.

Predictions for the first of the Hunter water game tournaments are for clear skies, calm seas and pelagics aplenty.

“The weather looks great and the fish have been on too,”  LMGFC president Gary Russell said this week.

“The water is sitting around 24 degrees and there’s baitfish everywhere.

“We took our boat up to Nelson Bay last weekend and caught fish on the way.

“Born Free was onto them too and on Monday this week, Sydney boat Little Audrey recorded 7-7-7 en route from Broken Bay where it fished the tournament last weekend.”

LMGFC boats enjoyed success at the Broken Bay event.

Vengence finished first in Capture, while Peter Strasmire’s boat Kurly got runner-up in Tag n Release and Paul Bessoff’s rig Offshore came fourth.

“There was lots of fish and a lot of boats, which we hope see repeated up here for the Bigfish,” Gary said.

Preparation for this weekend’s event are well-advanced with an army of sponsors onboard, including  Simrad, Safe Haven Shipwrights and Ramorra Lures.

(A full list is available on the LMGFC website (www.hlmgfc.com.au) or in the club’s bi-monthly magazine.)

A host of them will be on hand at the tournament briefing, starting 7.30pm Friday at Lake Macquarie Yacht Club.

“Fishing runs over Saturday and Sunday 7am to 5pm both days,” Gary said. “With a social barbecue for entrants Saturday night and breakfast barbies 5am both days.

“Weigh-ins will be at Swansea weigh station from about 4pm onwards both days and contestants can fish into Sunday night if they hook up before close of fishing. The presentation will be held the following Wednesday, February14, at Belmont Golf Club.”

Cash and prizes in Capture and Tag n Release will be up for grabs down to fifth place.

On top of that there will be a bonus lure of $10,000 for biggest marlin weighed over 200kg and biggest shark over 1000lb. 

”At club level there have been five marlin caught exceeding 200kg this season so the prize is quite achievable,” Gary said.

Phil McCloy’s boat Sea Baby IV will be back to defend his  Tag n Release crown, as will  Reece Woodforth’s boat Accelerate and angler and Robert Brown in the Capture division.

Tournament time

As club president and event director, Gary won’t be fishing this weekend, but will be in action at the Billfish Shootout, running February 16-18 out of Nelson Bay and featuring the major prize of $100,000 for a blue marlin over 236kg, and then Interclub and the East Coast Classic in following weeks.

“Neil Grieves, the ‘voice of the East Coast tournaments’ will be doing the skeds all the events, as he does each year, and will be joined at Bigfish this  by daughter Leanne,” Gary said.

“There’s also going to be some scientists on hand at the Bigfish Bonanza doing research on  fish weighed.

“Some uni graduates will be taking eye samples, and Fisheries researcher Nick Ottway will also be present.”

Milestone flattie

The Lake Macquarie Trophy Flathead Fishery program reached a significant milestone this week as the 50th lizard was tagged.

Lake southern-end specialist Rodney Austin had the honour, according to program co-ordinator Mark “Wilba” Williams.

“We also had our first recaptured fish,” Wilba reported. “Nathan De Bono, a well known lake angler, hooked a 72cm lizard on New Years Eve which had been tagged on November 28 by Fisherman’s Warehouse gun Corey Reid on November 28 last year.

“Nathan did the right thing – he recorded the tag number, noted the length and location and relayed that to Fisheries, which is what we’re encouraging everyone to do as part of the Trophy Fisheries Tagging Program.”

The ‘trophy’ fishery program  aims to protect dusky flathead by encouraging anglers to experience the thrill of catch and release fishing.

Every boatramp around the lake now has has Flathead Fishery signage.

“That's 24 major ramps with info on the catch and release code and tagging program,” Wilba said. “We’re also distributing pamphlets  to fishing shops, caravan parks and fishing clubs around the lake.”

The biggest flathead tagged so far is an 89.5cm fish by the flathead whisperer, Steve Norris, underlining his lake flathead guru status.

Biting bits

Wilba reports annoying numbers of tailor in the lake interfering with with his efforts to catch jew this week.

The shallows around Swansea are still holding good numbers of whiting. 

Rodney Austin has been harvesting snapper up to 50cm and  Craig Wrighton’s son Corey got his first lake mac kingie last week on a squid bait near the markers.