North Coast Fishing Bonanza sees best turnout ever!

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THE 2016 North Coast Fishing Bonanza (NCFB) was held over the October long weekend on the river at Fawcett Park, Ballina and set a new record for competitor numbers.

There was a windy start to the competition on the briefing night however the wind eased up and allowed offshore fishing for the first time ever which was great news for those chasing big fish. The 2016 event produced some amazing fish in the offshore category including a 143cm cobia caught by Robert Lynn, a 91.5cm snapper from Glenn Banks and the jewfish category was taken out offshore this year by a 120.6cm fish from Alan Standfield.

Inshore, there were some nice fish caught with the Juniors even beating the cadets in some categories showing that age is no barrier in fishing. One notable catch was an elbow-slapping whiting of 45.8cm from Lucas Martin and the beauty of the NCFB is that being a catch and photo competition a fish like this can swim away instead of having to be weighed in.

Again the flathead was hotly contested and the winning fish from previous year’s competitions wouldn’t have even made the podium in 2016 with a 97.8cm lizard caught by Frank Jones taking out the tightly contested category.

This year saw the ever popular and knowledgable David “The Barefoot Fisherman” Hodge entertaining the crowd with his accurate casting hitting cans being thrown in the air by kids as well as nightly question and answer times and education talks. This was not all that was on site with large tank and live catches being put in including a 95cm bull shark to keep the kids and adults alike mesmorised.

After seven years the 2016 North Coast Fishing Bonanza is one of the premier catch and release competitions on the North Coast and is growing nationally with competitors coming from all areas and being rewarded with some of the best and most versatile fishing NSW has.

To make the event have less impact with the catch and photo format competitors are required to fill in catch sheets and photograph their catches live on a brag mat with administrators then verifying each image and corresponding catch sheet ensuring appropriate fish care and handling is adhered to at all times in conjunction with the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

The cadets and juniors landed some good fish as well with Issac McCliskie landing a good jewie and Jack Thompson’s snapper which came in at 87.5cm which was just under the adults category. The juniors gave the cadets a run in the flathead and bass categories too with Shimano Booker’s 41.3cm Bass and Tahlia Robson’s 97cm flathead both larger than the cadets’ and even close to the adult winners. A great effort all round from the juniors and keep an eye out in the future for Tahlia Robson as she took out some prizes last year and a few more this year, so she is surely one to watch in the future.

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At the end of the day, the fishing is hotly contested but the NCFB organisers amass a huge array of prizes from sponsors and everyone is involved in the draws even if they didn’t catch a thing. This year, the Evinrude Etec / Gamakatsu boat was won by Denise Lovett from Ballina who drove away from the comp with a completely fitted out boat package including Lowrance sounder valued at $24,000.

Cameron Ashwood from Ballina won the adult kayak with a host of others taking away Engle fridge/freezers and Lowrance and Simrad sounder/plotter units. The cadet kayak was won by Sophie Baldwin and specific Cadet prizes were also drawn with products ranging from Lowrance sounders to TVs and Bikes.

A big thanks must go to Gamakastu and Evinrude for their support in bring this event to life. Other major sponsors include Samurai Fishing Rods and Lowrance as well as industry partners Atomic, Hobie Fishing, Wilsons, ATC, Engel, Shimano, The IceBox Bloke and Southern Cross Accountants. Without these fantastic companies the event would not be possible.

See everyone again next year!

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