Wow. What an amazing weekend it was. Culminating in a very real Mike Iaconelli reaction from me in the final moments of fishing time.
It really wasn’t that long ago I wrote about my goal for this year being to qualify for the Hobie Worlds being held in the USA this year and much to my surprise I did it this weekend. Why surprise? Well, of the four world qualifiers being held this year, even though St Georges Basin is the closest to me, I would have rated it as the lowest chance for my qualifying. Hey, I drove almost to South Australia because I thought the style of fishing there would suit me better. Truth is, I have struggled with SGB for a while and after a double donut there as a boater last year in the ABT round I wasn’t champing at the bit to get into this one.
Ian and I drove down on the friday afternoon, checked into the motel and had a muck around in a few of the little creeks around Huski, so no real prefish to speak of. The weather always looked good for the Saturday with the perfect amount of wind all day. Enough that the fish bit but not so much it took twice as long to paddle anywhere. Day 1 was the prefish and by 10am I was already making those excuses in my head. I had caught umpteen flathead, a few luderick, the ever present choppers and even three leatherjackets all on hardbodies around the weedbeds but not a single bream. I was swapping between the new Ecogear CX35’s, a shallow Chubby and Daiwa’s Gekkabijin Yogiri on 4,3 and 2lb straight through respectively, depending on the depth and how heavy the weed growth was. Finally, I heard a bit of a slurp and chase on the surface, turned and fired with the CX35 and was on within two turns of the handle.
The confidence that first fish brings is always great. “OK. I do know what I’m doing and it’s going to happen”. In the end I pulled a bag off that point and then upgraded it on the second pass to make all three in the well decent fish.
Day 2 was always going to be harder as the weather was forecast to include very little wind, which is nearly never a good thing for me. Luckily there was only about an hour where it was my “nightmare scenario” of no cloud cover and dead calm and even though the wind was sketchy and swung around for a while it was enough that I got my first fish off the edge and a smaller legal not long after. At this point I worked back and forth over my little point that had been good to me so far, desperately trying to pull that last legal off it but it got to about 12.40 and I thought it best to get closer to the finish area than I was.
I paddled across the big bay to a major point and for the first time saw Ian who indicated he also had two fish and was running out the clock looking for his final fish and Andrew Death who had been there most of the day I believe. The wind was well and truly puffing away by now and I pulled into the upwind side of the point and set up a drift with a drogue out to slow me and started long casts downwind on the big weedy flat. I was only a few casts in and I was on, but the big head shakes and dead weight felt like a big flathead to me. When it started cutting some serious water I started to think I was mistaken and it may in fact be a good bream.before I knew it the fish had rounded the kayak and was on the up wind side and i was drifting away from it. The fish eventually buried itself in a clump of cockle weed and I was left drifting away from a fish, buried in weed, with the kayak facing the wrong way. I immediately opened the bail arm and kept some tension with a finger on the spool lip, pulled the drogue in with the other hand and powered into the peddles to spin the kayak around and close the gap on it. Luckily this fish came out the easiest of all the ones that had buried me throughout the two day and after a few more tense moments close to the ‘yak I slipped the net under the fattest yellowfin I have ever seen. I remember screaming really, really loud and it was one of those genuine moments of sheer elation. As I unhooked it my alarm went signalling 1.15pm and time to start heading back.
At the weigh in the big fish went 1.37kg and was ended up big bream for the tournament and my bag was a little over 2.2kg. Doing rough math by memory between us, Matt Petrie and I knew it was going to be fairly close between us (in fact as I’m writing this I don’t know what the final weights were) but I commented to him that I would be the happiest man ever to take second place as it meant qualifying for worlds. In the end I was that happiest man in second place and it looks like I’m off to the USA later this year to represent Australia which is something that blows my mind.
Keep your eyes on Lureandfly.com and as soon as we find out the where, when and what species for the worlds I’m going to start a “Road to the Worlds” series.
In the meantime there are still two more chances and four spots to qualify. This coming weekend at Marlo and later in the year at Bribie Island.