It’s game on at Nelson Bay this weekend for the NSW Game Fishing Association State Championships.
Better known as Interclub and considered the pinnacle of gamefishing in the state, over 130 boats and 700 anglers from 26 clubs will be on the water battling for the mantle of the best.
And if the bite from last weekend’s Garmin Billfish Shootout is anything to go by, there’s a lot to get excited about.
“It’s one of the oldest game fishing tournaments in the southern hemisphere and is considered the ultimate prize for our members,” NSWGFA president Gary Chenoworth said.
“Each club sends teams of three, with tag forming 90 per cent of competition. Within the two major categories there’s a myriad of line-class divisions.”
Being the host port, Newcastle Port Stephens Game Fishing club will have a big representation with around 25 boats entered.
There will also be an an influx clubs from up and down the coast, with Central Coast back to defend the historic tag and release crown they won last year, and Lake Macquarie looking to back up in capture.
“Scotty Thorington and the boys caused a boilover last year when they won tag, and it was a win close to my heart as I was the founding president of the Central Coast GFC,” Gary said.
Tim Dean, who skippered the anglers on Calypso who went within 4.9kg of claiming the $100,000 prize for biggest blue over 236kg at last weekend’s Shootout, said the bite went long, wide and strong, with blues, black and stripes about in numbers.
As a result he was predicting good things for Interclub.
“If the weather plays ball, I expect a real buzz about the fleet from what happened at Shootout,” he said.
Action kicks off this morning with a spectacular sail past at 7am as the boats head out to sea.
Fishing runs until Sunday afternoon, with weigh-ins starting each day around 3.30pm. The presentation will be held Sunday night at Wests Diggers.
The Lyndy Grieves Memorial Ladies Day event was held yesterday.
A lot of anglers have based themselves at Nelson Bay over the last month as they competed in the local tournaments.
“They’ve been staying and bringing their business to the local economy and that’s always another big feature of Interclub,” Gary said.
Oh so close
Over 166 boats with 766 anglers competed in the Garmin Billfish Shootout last weekend, tagging and releasing 152 black marlin, 90 blue marlin, 43 striped marlin and 7 spearfish.
Newcastle Port Stephens Game Fishing Club boat Billistic, skippered by Brent Harding, took out the $!2,500 prize for champion boat tag and release, and Lake Macquarie GFC boat Victory 2 won the cash for heaviest shark over 350kg with a 375.6kg tiger.
But the big story was Tim Dean’s team on Calypso who came ever so close to winning $100,000 for heaviest blue marlin over 236kg.
Adam Hoey’s blue weighed in at 231.4kg, a mere 4.6kg off the cash.
He still pocketed $12,500 for the heaviest blue over 150kg, but for a while there was daring to dream.
“It would have been good,” Tim said yesterday. “We knew it would be close but it was a bit skinny round the tail.
“I guess you could say those couple of extra kilos cost $25k each, but Adam, and his brother Jason, who went so close to winning the tournament last year, were philisophical.
“They’re farming guys from Forbes and they said it was certainly a bit different to feeding cattle.”
Tim said the tournament was a huge success with big entries, lots of sponsors on board and plenty of fish.
“It was world class as far as blue marlin go with boats experiencing up to dozen fish,” he said.
“Port Hacking boat Cooky got eight bites and eight fish working due east of Swansea on Middle Canyon.
“Another Port Hacking boat, Rabbit, fished north up off Seals Rock and had nine fish released from 13 bites.
“There were lots of blues and stripes out wide, and the blacks turned up in numbers in close as Billistic’s victory in tag and release showed.”
A total of 112 boats signed up for a crack at the $100,000.
A lot of fish were caught and released out wide, but as they are generally caught on heavier line and tackle, they don’t register as many points as the blacks, which are typically caught on lighter line classes.
Another highlight in the lead-up to the Shootout was the Soldier On day held last Wednesday.
Designed as a way to give returned service men and women a fun day on the water, 12 boats volunteered their time and vessels, and 16 marlin were released.
“It was a great day, and by chance heading back to port we got a long and very loud flyover from a jet formation out of Williamtown, who just happened to be in the air at the time and who are great supporters of Soldier On,” Tim said.