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Narooma Flathead Challenge raises cash for sick kids

TWO hundred keen fishos from as far away as SA, western NSW, Canberra and Sydney fished the 5th annual Narooma Flathead Challenge over the weekend, enjoying fine weather, good company and some quality fishing – and raising $5000 for the Starlight Foundation in the process.

Team Jig Men won the comp with a total of 1008 points and also took out biggest fish honours with an 80cm Wagonga Inlet “moose”.

About 400 flatties, including eight over 70cm, were caught and released over the two-day comp. More than $5000 was raised via raffles and donated to the Starlight Foundation by comp organisers.

Sixty-one teams competed in the event with evening festivities staged at the landmark O’Brien’s Hotel (www.obrienspubnarooma.com) overlooking the water. Fisho can report that the beer and steaks served at this classic Aussie pub are first class!

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Comp organisers Paul, Stuie and Dawso on the back deck of O’Brien’s Hotel in Narooma.

The fishing in the crystal clear waters of Wagonga Inlet was relatively challenging. The resident flatties seemed a bit shutdown with cool water temps perhaps causing them to lie doggo. Teams with local knowledge seemed to find patches of more active fish. Team Fisho (Sami Omari and Jim Harnwell) scored just three flatties in the mid-40cm mark but lost a much larger fish when the small trebles on a blade failed to hold fast during the big girl’s initial wild headshakes.

Plenty of tailor and small snapper were reported as bycatch by most competitors. Fisho also saw images of two amberjacks also caught and released during the comp. According to local guide Stuie Hindson, from Aussie Fish Estuary Adventures, amberjack are a very rare bycatch in a South Coast estuary!

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Boats lined up just before the start of fishing on day 1. Image: Sami Omari.

Along with his mates Dawso and Paul (the owner of O’Brien’s Hotel), Stuie organised and ran the 5th Narooma Flathead Challenge. Great job, fellas! Visitors to the NSW South Coast are advised to book a trip with Stuie – he’s got the local systems, including Wagonga, wired and is well known as being one of the very best estuary fishing guides around. Contact Stuie on 0400 062 504 or check out his website at www.ausfishing.com.au.

All up, Fisho can report that the 5th Narooma Flathead Challenge was a very well run comp with plenty to offer keen tournament fishos as well as being appealing to more social anglers (like Team Fisho!). The event was sponsored by Shimano, XXXX Gold, O’Brien’s Hotel, various other local businesses and Fishing World.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of fishing down this way, Wagonga Inlet is a cool place to fish with deep and very clear water. Lots of small bays, combined with drop-offs, flats and a myriad of oyster leases, make for a diverse and challenging fishery. One of the best things about fishing Wagonga is that you can pull in for a coffee and snack at one of the waterside cafes on the eastern shore. A well stocked tackle shop (the Ocean Hut) is located a short distance from the main ramp. See www.oceanhut.net for details.

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(Above) A selection of quality fish caught and released during the comp. Images: Stuie Hindson.

We stayed at Black Bream Point, an amazing property on the western shores of the lake. Fully appointed cabins with all the mod cons ensure a relaxed and comfortable stay. Best of all, a private ramp and wharf just 50m away from your cabin means you can moor your boat for hassle-free fishing. Black Bream Point is highly recommended for any fisho who wants a laidback family holiday right on the water of one of the South Coast’s most spectacular estuary systems. See www.blackbreampoint.com for details.

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Sunrise from the porch of Team Fisho’s cabin at Black Bream Point on Day 2.

The April issue of Fisho, due out in early March, features a detailed guide to the fishing options around Narooma. Make sure you check it out.

Meantime, start planning to attend the 6th Narooma Flathead Challenge in 2015. Fisho will be there with bells on!

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Boats both big and small fished the 5th Narooma Flathead Challenge. Image: Sami Omari.

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