REPORT: Offshore kayak fishing competition in Portland, Victoria
In the last 6 months of 2016, my Wife and I busied ourselves organising the Sea Sherpa North Shore Challenge. The goal was to put on Victoria’s only dedicated offshore kayak fishing competition over the Australia Day long weekend. Lo and behold, Australia Day 2017 was upon us before we knew it and we had 35 anglers turning up in Portland, most of them opting to take the Friday off and fish over a four day weekend. What could be better?
We were up bright and early at 5am on the morning of the competition to sign entrants out on to the water. Cracking weather conditions and the array of brightly coloured kayaks lined up on the sand and in the water made for stunning views.
6.30am came and 35 keen fishos hit the water in a range of pedal and paddle kayaks. Some opted for a trip out to Julia Reef while others raced to the Anchorage. By the way, hats off to some entrants who paddled between 200km and 300km over the course of the weekend – a solid effort! A couple of yakkers decided to play the numbers game on the reef and try their luck on the snapper. Soon after, word came over the radio that one of the entrants had hooked a tuna and needed to borrow a gaff from another entrant.
There were scattered catches of snapper and salmon from those on the reef with one entrant having already sorted through over 60 pinkies for his team, in search of some larger models. Others reported a struggle to find the fish but better conditions on the water after the squall passing. The time ticked by and the announcements over VHF revealed that there wasn’t long to go. Some of the guys began to hit the beach with reports relayed that another entrant had hooked up and was on his way to Tassie! As the entrants rolled in, it was clear that it had been a tough day’s fishing. For some, the numbers game on the reef had been the wise decision, while the gamble to go out wide for pelagics and glory made for a bittersweet tale.
The Individual Challenge Award and Best Catch Award went to Gabriele Meoni (pictured above) who caught a 98cm tuna from his Stealth fibreglass kayak.
Second prize went to Peter Ritchie who caught two snapper and a salmon, showing that a large pelagic fish wasn’t a prerequisite to success. Third prize went to Nelson Rouw who caught two snapper and four Hobie Adventure Island rudders. Unfortunately the rudders were not on the accepted species list. Portland man David Webb used his local knowledge of the reefs to nab fourth place and Luke Easton took fifth place much to his own surprise.
Special mentions to both Jordan Rouw and Shane Esmore (pictured below) for their cracking catches on the day. Jordan landed a 19.4kg tuna having paddled 40km on the day and Shane landed a 23kg model as well as a kingfish. Unfortunately both Jordan and Shane did not return to shore within the competition window.
Needless to say, most of the caravan park was eating and sleeping well that night. All in all, we couldn’t have hoped for a better weekend of weather and a better outcome, although it did feel weird to be on the beach instead of out on the water participating. Some of the entrants have already booked their camping spots for Australia Day 2018 so we’ll be back to it planning the next one.
Written by Eoin Corroon.