Dan Curry, of Ballina, and Joe Allan, of the Gold Coast, hold up their catch of bream.
Dan Curry, of Ballina, and Joe Allan, of the Gold Coast, hold up their catch of bream.

Fishing bonanza a huge success

SO, here's the secret to getting people to turn up to your event, despite ghastly weather – just give away $75,000 or so worth of prizes.

Walking into the Ballina Leagues Club yesterday afternoon at the conclusion of the North Coast Fishing Bonanza, you'd have thought from the numbers present it had a been a perfect weekend, with anglers sharing a drink over stories of their triumphs, or the one that got away.

Instead, as rain pounded horizontally against the building's windows, it was clear what was keeping them all there – the chance to win a really expensive boat.

Two new vessels – one worth about $35,000 and the other a tinny worth a handy $10,500 – were given away yesterday afternoon as part of the Bonanza.

And the beauty of it was that competitors didn't even need to catch a fish over the weekend to win. Ah, the wonders of a random draw.

So while entries were down on what organisers had hoped for, about 140 competitors, including junior and cadet fishers, still braved the elements to take part.

Paul Starkey, from Frogley's Offshore, who was involved in the running of the Bonanza, summed up the weekend weather.

“It's was absolutely horrendous,” he said.

“It was blowing 40-plus knots. It was miserable.”

Mr Starkey said organisers had been hoping for 250 competitors to help raise funds for the Ballina Coast Guard.

“That wouldn't have been hard to achieve if we had been able toaccess the waterways,” he said.

But with offshore waters off-limits, except to one or two diehards, anglers needed to find other spots in the contest zone, which was held between Tweed Heads to Yamba.

Despite the weather, Mr Starkey said the quality of the fishing was still high.

“People who know how to find the fish get fish,” he said.

“For the actual conditions the catch has been very good.”

The quality of the catch, and the turn-out despite the weekend downpour, had Mr Starkey hopeful the contest would make return to Ballina under more benign conditions.

“For a first event it shows a lot of promise,” he said.

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