Catch numbers down at Snapper Classic

For many of the 218 anglers on board the 86 boats competing in the 2010 Dave Irvine Memorial Snapper Classic at Coffs Harbour, the fishing could only be described as tough. With fresh south-westerly winds blowing almost from the official 5.30am start on both competition days conditions were far from ideal for a pleasant weekend’s snapper fishing – thankfully though for the first day of the comp the big swells of Friday had abated to 1.5 – 2 metres.

For those competing it was basically down to a case of heading south or north after exiting the town’s main harbour. Team Fishing World made a fairly leisurely 6.30am start on the first session of the comp and after much deliberation due to the windy conditions, decided to head south to target a few reefs the Bar Crusher hadn’t visited earlier in the week. It also looked a good option to be travelling back with the wind if it lifted in intensity.

Quite a number of competing boats headed south also; the different types of boats one the water ranged from flybridge cruisers and large plate cuddies and runabouts to small side console tinnies. Not surprisingly some of the crews in the small boats looked to be struggling to enjoy themselves in the fresh conditions…

The Fisho boat drifted over number of southern reef marks that were obviously fairly well known judging by the numbers of boats in the vicinity. Team Fishing World, like many teams fishing the area, scored zero success on the target species.
A team headed by Riley Tolmay of Evinrude E-TEC – major sponsors of the event – and included Fisho’s ad sales manager Chris Yu, made the long journey south to Nambucca Heads in the hope of beating the crowds and finding some hungry snapper. Unfortunately the journey proved fruitless for the Tolmay led team on board his Haines Hunter 650.  

Coffs local and well known fishing magazine writer Scott Amon had a non-competing group out on board flybridge cruiser Triton (boats were only allowed 2 or 3 competing anglers) and were one of the few to tally up a good number of snapper on day one with 18, the biggest a 66cm fish to Amon. On board was also former Australian cricket captain Mark Taylor who reportedly scored a nice red. Amon told Fisho they hadn’t scored a fish until well after sun-up and 7” Squidgy Flickbaits, 5” Gulp jerkshads and Lucanus jigs were the team’s lures of choice.

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The biggest “official” snapper spoken of on day one was an 84cm fish (approx. 8kg) taken on a 7″ Gulp by Pam Featherstone, wife of John, owner/editor of Spearfishing Down Under magazine. Recently introduced to snapper fishing on rod and reel, Pam was suitably upbeat about her catch, especially as it was the pairing’s only fish of the day.

Despite putting in a fairly solid effort with soft plastics the Fisho crew were skunked on day one, only managing a procession of rock cods. Even a stint back in the marina to regroup didn’t improve results – or morale – on the Fisho boat, which was back in the marina by 2pm after a fruitless session wide of the harbour mouth in big swell and a strong south-westerly.

Many competitors were scratching their heads after day one with theories for the slow fishing ranging from dirty inshore water, dropping water temperature, moon phase and the sloppy seas as all possible contributing factors for Mr.Red going off the bite.

The Fisho crew were hopeful of at least getting on the board on the last session on Sunday morning. We headed out around 6.30am to be met again by a strong south-westerly and sloppy seas. Fishing close inshore reefs north of the harbour again failed to produce. With conditions deteriorating further we decided on doing a few drifts out wide before calling it quits. Our first line burning hookup in two days unfortunately soon showed all the trademarks of the mackerel tuna we’d been catching earlier in the week. This was confirmed a few minutes later when a solid mack surfaced before screaming off under the boat.

Due to worsening conditions and a seemingly shutdown bit the Fisho team pulled the pin early on the last session yesterday and were back in the marina by 9am – competition fishing for day 2 officially ended at 11am. The majority of competing anglers we spoke to had also struggled to get on the board in the comp with many scoring zero or one fish days, for both Saturday and Sunday. Some anglers though did well; we heard rumours of a 90cm plus fish caught in the last session and another that would have beaten Pam Featherstone’s 84cm red caught on day one. A Coffs Harbour local we met at the ramp, Oscar, told us he’d managed 18 snapper for the comp and was obviously well in the running to take out the event. As they say, local knowledge often makes all the difference in fishing.

Despite our results during the Dave Irvine Memorial Snapper Classic the Fisho crew had loads of fun and plenty of laughs while participating and Fishing World is proud to be a sponsor of what has become a great event on the annual sportfishing calendar. The organisers are to be commended for their efforts once again. We’ll be back again next year…

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Stay tuned for all official results from the DIMSC when they become available. 


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