TACKLEWORLD SOOTY CHAMPIONSHIP

Combine 70 anglers, 36 boats, Eungella Dam, great
weather and big sooties, and the Tackleworld sponsored event could not fail to
be a success. These were the conditions
for MAFSA’s second sooty event an
all anglers agreed the tournament is here to stay.

Friday afternoon and Saturday morning were set up
times for the MAFSA crew running the event and of course there were a few minor
last minute hitches, but nothing to spoil the event. MAFSA members erected the control
marquis, set up the portable swimming pool for the fish and generally prepared
everything to run smoothly.

Entrants started to report in shortly after midday
and received their key tag number, Tackleworld bag and a copy of the fishing
rules.

1330 hours on the Saturday after the briefing was
completed, the boats took off across the dam with the bigger more powerful
boats getting the early run to the treeline, but once there the large HP rigs
had to slow down to negotiate Eungella’s famous thick stands of timber.

Back at the official area, we had time for coffees
lunch and a run through of the weighin procedures before the anglers started to
check in with their early afternoon catches.

The first boats in around 1500 hours had a few fish
generally in the high 300mm range and at a point per mm scored started to mount
up.

Ivan Baulch
hauled 2 sooties, one a nice 440mm fish from some old tree stumps in
shallow water fishing a pumpkinseed coloured Gulp and working it super slowly
hard up against the stumps. He later returned to the same area and was rewarded
with another 2 fish to take his tally to 4 fish for the afternoon and a total
length overall of 1478mm.

Plastics were not the only lure of choice for the
anglers, with plenty of fish falling to spinnerbaits and small minnows.

Linda McKenzie fished in the heavy timber and was
rewarded with 4 good fish for the afternoon on spinnerbaits. Lindas 4 fish for
1446 mm in total pushed her up into second place for the Saturday afternoon
session.

Ray Schneider from Home Hill presented several fish
at the weigh in including a very solid specimen that measured out at 465mm.
Rays 2 sons also weighed in some nice fish but Rays 465mm fish took the honours
for largest sooty for the session.

Surprisingly though most of the fish were caught in
relatively shallow water, and this may be a result of the recent influx of
water taking the dam to just over 60% capacity for the first time in about 4
years.

By end of the Saturday session, 67 fish had been
presented to the weighmaster for recording.All these fish were over the 300mm
minimum size limit and many anglers had released fish slightly undersize. The
general opinion was that the fish had been fairly hard to find but overall
everyone seemed happy enough.

There was of course the hard luck stories about
straightened trebles and smashed plastics indicating some really solid sooties
were on the prowl. Rob Foot who fished with Bill McGarry thought that the water
looked really inviting so decided to take an impromptu dive into the dam. Bill
reports that Rob managed to keep the rod and reel above water, retrieved his
hat then set out to climb back in.

Fortunately he was able to stand on the
cavitation plate and get shivering back into the boat. Comments like “Really
Bill you must be more careful next time” or words to that effect were heard in
nearby boats!!!!!

Saturday night was a pretty quiet time except for
Brendon Agius and a couple of his mates who decided to sit up listen to the
football and get rid of all their liquid refreshments.

They sure had a ball but
weren’t looking too healthy at the 0600 start next morning.

After a quick refresher on the rules the boats were
off in the just breaking daylight, and we did not have long to wait before the
first fish were bought in.

L and M Schneider
both upgraded to 4 fish with 440 and 425mm fish taking them up into 3rd
and 4th position on the board.

A better average class of fish seemed
to be caught in the early morning session and several other anglers were able
to upgrade their fish.

Ray Schneider was still scoring and bought in the
100th fish of the tournament at 0845 hours. At that stage his 465mm
fish was still the largest although several others were running close.

Most of
the fish on Sunday morning were coming in on plastics with a few on minnows.

Wade Inskip upgraded on Fat Raps and Poppers and
momentarily moved into 4 th place.

Clay Dale weighed in his 5 th fish to give him the
lead for best 4 fish at 1547 points, but this did not last long. His fishing
mate R Tindale also upgraded to move up the score board.

The lead and placings kept altering almost every 30
minutes or so as anglers upgraded with larger fish. Everyone was keen to see
how they were going and there was obviously a few private competitions going on
between some anglers, all of which added to the fun of the event.

All fish were kept in MAFSA’s above ground pool so
that everyone could check on the quality of fish being caught. Some great mid
400s sooties were in the tank and the kids from the various camps had a ball
watching the fish being measured and released into the pool.

Meanwhile, Ray Schneider was clinging to the largest
fish prize, and for most of the morning session he looked to have it in the
bag. There was a fair bit of good natured ribbing between Ray and his 2 sons,
Mick and Len.

Big improvers on the Sunday morning included Simon
Goldsmith, Bruce Biddle and Dave Creffield.

Although the last of the progress
scores were not entered on the boards it was obvious to all that the
competition was very close and 1 or 2 good fish upgrades would likely get a
win. This also added to the excitement and the entrants were trying to work out
their own and oppositions current standings.

Finally stumps had to be called and all boats were
back in for the final weighin. The tension built up as more and more fish were
weighed in with upgrades to quite a few anglers.

Finally the computer spat out the results and the
presentation began. Tournament Director Keith Day and MAFSA Chair Jeff Eales
thanked the competitors for the great spirit displayed, and the great work done
by MAFSA workers to set up the event.

Prizes were awarded from 20th position to
number 1 and each score was read out with the angler’s name. The scores were
really close with 12th place scoring 1505 and 5th scoring 1551.

But the big numbers filling the top 3 spots were
Ivan Baulch with 1680 in number one with Mick Schneider second with 1594mm and
Simon Goldsmith third at 1563.

Ivan used Gulps the entire tournament and fished
shallow water around stumps and laydowns. Most fish were caught in less than 3
metres and 2 in about 450mm of water. He used 10kg braid over a baitcaster with
flurocarbon leader and declared the event tops.

Ivan also took out the award for the most fish
presented to the weighmaster (8).

Right to the death almost, Ray Schneiders 465mm fish
was the largest until his son Mick presented a fish of 470mm to just pip his
dad at the post!!!.

For the stats minded, 51,256mm total length of sooties was
presented, with an average length of 339mm. 151 fish in total were presented
and 75% of the competitors presented at least 1 fish.

All agreed it was a great tournament and this looks
like being a regular event.

Special thanks to Tackleworld Mackay for their
sponsorship and thanks to all the volunteers who made the event run smoothly.

See you at the next one!!!!!!!!!!!!