Airnorth Ladies Fishing Classic: the most remote women’s fishing competition in the Southern Hemisphere?

Crocs are a common feature in the Airnorth Ladies Fishing Classic!

THE Airnorth Ladies Fishing Classic is in its 18th year, held in remote Nhulunbuy, East Arnhem Land, the tournament fishes some of the most remote and pristine waters in Australia.

The competition is hosted by the Nhulunbuy Regional Sports Fishing Club, a volunteer run club that promotes family orientated, sustainable fishing practices on the Gove Peninsula and hosts a range of other tournaments , including junior school holidays comps, barramundi and billfish tournaments. The competition hosts four categories, Reef, Estuary, Land and Billfish. There were 51 teams entered this year, a huge undertaking for what must be one of the most remote women’s fishing competition in the Southern Hemisphere.

Anglers fished a wide spread area including Arnhem Bay, The Bromby islets, Melville Bay, Cato and Peter John Rivers, the Gove Peninsula and Cape Arnhem. This produced 711 point scoring fish over two days.

The second days fishing was hampered by a late monsoon burst, however this did not dampen the enthusiasm of most of the teams who pushed on while others retreated to safe harbor.

The competition was not without drama, one team required rescuing by Border Force , 40km off shore when their boat engine failed. Another team made the mistake of taking a banana onboard, meaning they did not make it out of the harbour before disaster struck.

The competition was held over 12 and 13 March, with teams consisting of 2-4 female anglers and a skipper or decky who can be male, but there is no fishing for the men this weekend. The tagline is “size does matter” and the women take this to heart fishing hard for the ultimate prize of champion team and champion individual angler.

Christine Riches with the highest point scoring mackerel at 121cm!

The competition practices sustainable fishing, catch and release and not targeting at risk bottom fish. Fish that suffer barotrauma are not scored by size and strict bag limits apply. Having said that, there were some notable catches this year; an 82cm nannygai, a 70cm coral trout and several fish in the triple figures including barramundi, giant trevally, mackerel and black jewfish.

The teams take their fishing puns seriously, the champion team, Mackies in Black just beating out Team Hook Us Up who were followed in third place by Tangled Emperors. Champion Angler Raylene Yerbury of Tangled Emperors took our first placed individual angler in front of second placed angler Melissa Joseph of Mackies in Black with Natalie Atkinson of Touchin Tackle taking bronze.

Champion Airnorth Ladies Fishing Classic team, “Mackies in Black”.

The Airnorth Ladies Fishing Classic celebrates female recreational anglers with friendships forged and fierce competition for the prestigious Champion Female Angler title. Teams take the presentation as seriously as the competition with costumes planned far in advance to take into account slow postal services in this remote part of Australia.

The organising committee is looking forward to next years tournament with the hope that anglers outside of Gove will travel in to experience the incredible fishing this part of the world offers.

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