That’s the reaction from all 44 entrants in the inaugural World Sooty Championship series Barra Pro event held on 18th April at Eungella dam after the highs and lows of the mornings fishing session.
Run by MAFSA in conjunction with ABT and proudly sponsored by Barra Pro Mackay, this event was a litmus test to see if anglers here would embrace the type of tournament now common on the bass and bream circuits. From the feedback questionnaire filled out by every competitor it was evident that there is a demand and a potentially large following in North Queensland for a sooty series and all anglers want more of the same.
The tournament was run on a slightly different format from the bass and bream series in that there was a continuous live weigh in throughout the morning and at close of fishing, each angler’s four heaviest fish were tallied up to decide the winners and grinners. Mind you, at the weigh in everybody seemed to be grinning even the spectators who had gathered to watch proceedings. All fish caught and weighed were held in a wading pool at the control area and this added a further dimension to the tournament.
Progress scores were posted up as fish were weighed and everyone was interested in checking just how the opposition were going. Talk about incentives to get back out there fishing! It was obvious there were several little side competitions going on between mates but all the anglers approached the event in great spirit and that led to everyone enjoying themselves immensely, even those who failed to worry the weighmaster Tim Galletly and his helpers.
The event started with a 5:30am briefing when all were given a quick run through the rules and presented with their tournament bag which contained sets of rules, a lure, various stickers as well as a Barra Pro sponsors measuring sticker, so there was no excuse for presenting undersize fish. Noel Matsen from Barra Pro was really pleased to get his bag as he had forgotten to bring along a tape measure.
At 6:00 am the boats roared off in search of the mother lode of sooties that would get a win outright. The officials had just settled down to a cup of coffee when we were disturbed by an approaching boat. Sure enough in came John and Anne Trigg to weigh in two fish for John. Those two fish briefly gave John the lead and also heaviest fish at 1.12kg and 380mm long.
Shortly after, John’s nephew Nathan rolled in with two fish, to then lead with a total weight of 2.36kg and heaviest sooty at 1.74kg. Next in was Wade Inskip with two small fish and then just as we were getting coffee again Rodney Collins and partner Sam Bradford came cruising in with grins from ear to ear.
Sam’s fish weighed in at 1.38kg and 450mms but the big mover was Rodney with a great fish at 1.88kg and 460mm length. Heaviest fish to Rodney and off they went in search of more sooties.
There was a procession of fish weighed in with no change in the lead or heaviest fish for a while. John Trigg weighed in another two fish to consolidate his overall lead, but he was being shadowed by Clay Dale fishing out of the AFC Suzuki boat, that he towed over from Glenden.
Fishing stopped at 11:15 and for the last hour or so the weigh in slowed until Wade Inskip returned with another two fish, as did John Trigg. It looked like being a two horse race for a time then in the last 30 minutes Wade picked up another two good fish – one a snodger of 2.86kg and 500mm long (God I wish I could get one that long as it is a standing joke among my ‘mates’ that I can’t break that 500mm) to again take the lead.
Then, right near the death, Clay Dale turned up with two good fish at 1.04 and 1.24kg to make it a three way tussle for first place. None of the top three could get another fish in the little fishing time left and then it was an anxious wait to see what the others were bringing in.
Progress scores were recorded on the board and the laptop then calculated the heaviest four fish for each angler and there were smiles all round.
The presentation went off smoothly and Wade Inskip accepted first prize of a $500 open order at Barra Pro with Clay Dale and John Trigg filling positions two and three. All prizes were presented by Noel Matsen of Barra Pro and down to 10th place received an open order.
The final award was for the heaviest sooty and Wade Inskip gratefully accepted his brand new Strudwick 4-6kg baitcaster for his 2.86kg fish. This rod was very kindly donated by Strudwick and judging by the favourable comments among the anglers these rods seem destined to do battle with many a sooty or barra in our area. ‘One nice little stick’ seemed to be the general consensus.
There is a full scorecard hereabouts and the continuous weigh in and progress scoring was a definite plus and is set to stay as part of the sooty series program. Tournament 2 will be held within a few months at either Kinchant or Teemburra dam so watch this space as you will read it first in QFM tournament news.
For the tackle conscious, most fish were caught on hard bodied lures and Wade Inskip fished first up with a medium Rattlin’ Spot as he found fish hanging down around 5 to 10metres in the timbered areas. Most fish were caught on the drop using a Loomis C663 and CVX Millionaire reel loaded with 10kg Bionic Braid and 10kg nylon leader.
Later in the morning Wade noticed fish showing up on the sounder near the 2 to 3 metre mark so after snagging and busting off his silver spot he used a 50mm blue Rapala Fat Rap and caught his last two fish on that, including the horse that won him the money and the rod.
Clay Dale used a different approach and fished with plastics for the morning. A Loomis Crankbait rod and Shimano Chronarch reel loaded with braid and 20kg leader delivered the plastics to the fish and Clay’s best lure was a Berkley 3 inch minnow grub. This was fished on worm hooks with a couple of small splitshot pinched on the line or hook. All Clay’s larger fish hit in the top three metres of water although one smaller fish was hooked about five metres down.
As expected by those that know him John Trigg used his favourite Rattlin’ Spots to good advantage and proved why he is one of the best sooty anglers around. John had weighed in 4 fish within 90 minutes of start time and had a couple of smaller ones that did not make the length of 300mm. John related a similar story to Wade in that the fish were initially deeper then when the wind dropped off and the sun got properly on the water the fish came closer to the surface.
There were many hard luck stories of course with bust offs, failed hookups etc but the best/worst story goes to Bill McGarry. Bill fished with Rob Foot, who has just bought a new boat and has apparently not yet got around to fitting it out properly. That’s his story anyway when explaining why he did not have a landing net in the boat when Bill hooked a fish they estimate at 550mm and that was lost while Bill was trying to swing it into the boat. I am led to believe Bill was not impressed but they both had a laugh/cry about it at the weigh in.
That the tournament was successful is beyond doubt. Competitors travelled from as far away as Mission Beach in the north and Emerald in the south, and all are looking forward to the next round. All fish were released in good condition back into the dam by MAFSA.
As a final wind up for the day MAFSA had our transport trailer on hand complete with 1500 sooties we had raised in our hatchery. These had been kept specially for the tournament and all the kids had a ball releasing these little fingerlings into the dam One day maybe the winning fish will come from that lot. What a great thought! – Keith Day.
|Name||No weighed||Wt Fish1||Wt Fish2||Wt Fish3||Wt Fish4||Wt Fish5||Wt Fish6||Largest Fish||Wt 4 largest||Total Weight||Open Order Payout|