Mid day Friday saw the gates open with a steady crowd proceeding through registrations. Approximately 40 fishing related trade stalls had something for every angler looking to get that secret weapon for the weekend. Rods and reels, lures, spinnerbaits, boats, canoes, kayaks, swags, canopy’s, boats plus more were there to look at. All exhibitors must be commended on how they soldiered on after the deluge Friday afternoon.
Friday evening saw David Hodge and Rod McKenzie conduct “Cod Talk”, an informative interactive talk session based around anything that has to do with Cod fishing from catch & release through to lure selection and casting tips. A re-appearance by the iconic CUB Draught Horses was another feature of the night. Because of ground conditions they could not make it onto the oval but greeted all competitors at the main gate upon entry. Introduced last year was the drawing of a boat on the Friday night for all competitors who had registered up until 8.30pm. Again masses gathered in hope of picking up the first boating package on offer for the weekend. Unfortunately a couple of unlucky punters didn’t venture out in the rain and a winner for this boat was found on the third draw. With a break in the rain, most took off in search of a dry bed and looked forward to the next day’s fishing.
At the close of registrations Saturday morning 2861 super keen anglers had nominated to participate. Unbelievably, fishing conditions were probably the best seen in the history of the Cod Classic. A slight breeze turned to not a breath of wind leaving most looking for sunscreen and mozzi repellant. With the lake being the dirtiest is has been for some time and the river running flat out at minor flood level, fishing captures were expected to be minimal. How wrong we were! At the end of Saturday fish numbers were well up on previous years with some nice fish recorded. Club house leader at the half way mark was Andrew Stevens with a massive Cod that stretched the tape out to 108cms of joy.
Saturday night saw approximately 4500 people converge on the Mulwala football ground for the night’s activities. “Flathead Fred” kept the children entertained for an hour with his energy filled kids fun fishing show. Following this, lucky door prizes were given out. Amazingly, 2000 of the 2469 adult competitors received a lucky door prize. All major lucky door prizes were then drawn followed by giving away another three boating packages. The highlight of this was to see the young fella who won the junior boat making his way through the crowd at a million miles an hour whilst on crutches! Hundreds of onlookers stayed around to watch the Australian pro casting titles close out the night. Tom Hetherington made his way down from Mackay in Qld to take home the cash along with “Australian Pro Casting Champion” title for the next twelve months.
Sunday morning, competitors were again greeted with magnificent conditions. This allowed those that still hung onto some hope a chance to get out while all reports from the Ski Club suggested that those who enjoyed country music singer Melinda Schneider may have enjoyed the inside of their cave a bit more!
Presentations for all fishing categories got under way before noon Sunday. Many anxious fisho’s gathered in hope to hear their name being called either as winner of a fishing section or one of the many fishing draw prizes on offer. The juniors got onto some nice fish with Robert Phibbs taking out first place with a beauty measuring 69cm. 6yo Zac Art followed closely behind with a very creditable 67cm Cod. Andrew Stein took the coveted junior prize of Swagman Lures Junior Champion of Champions with his three legal cod measuring a combined total length of 185cms. In the adults section, Andrew Stevens’ 108cm monster was not passed allowing him to take home the Mulwala Football Netball Club Champion Angler title. Mick “Muscles” Bressan finished in second place with a great 88cm cod. This is the second time that Mick has finished runner up in this event. The SMAK Lures Female Champion was taken out by Ange Quarrel with a 74cm green fish. Three more boats were given away, the raffles were drawn and then all participants took off looking to beat the rain again.
All in all, the event was a massive success. An estimated 1350 boats took part making it a site to be seen once again. As indicated by the fishing statistics, fish numbers were well up on the 2009 event proving that Lake Mulwala is the most sustainable Cod fishing ground in the country despite the fishing pressure it receives. With the education of participants to practice catch and release whilst they are here and when they leave, this can only bode well for all native inhabited waterways for the future. As mentioned last year the size limit increase NSW Fisheries has put in place is working and they should be applauded for their efforts. It also proves that the lake draw down during the 09 winter had no effect on fish numbers what so ever. For groups to call for a total fishing ban this time of year is absolutely ridiculous.
To round out the weekend, 9 golfing tragic’s took to the royal and ancient Yarrawonga & Border golf course to contest the 6th “Cod Classic Invitational Golf Championships”. Rules such as if you do not hit it you don’t count it, if you can retrieve it within 10 seconds from the tee you can have it again, you could choose to have 1 kick and 1 throw (Of your ball, not others – remember that Merv!) somewhere within your round and all sledging is fair whist having your shot made for an interesting and very funny morning. Surprisingly or rather not surprisingly, handicapper and rules master Russ Wright took out the title for the third time in four years? Obviously something will have to be done about Russ’s handicap next year but with a fine score of 71 saw him take home the title.
Finally to the many sponsors who stuck by and supported us over the past twelve months, thank you. During the trying times when a certain party tried to register the Cod Classic name as their own and suggested a payment of $100K (that’s right $100000!) for the return of our identity, the phone calls and back up support was unbelievable. Our legal team performed remarkably and helped guarantee the future of this event for many years to come. Again this only proved our resolve and will help make the Cod Classic grow stronger in the future.