2021 Cod Classic - "Covid Comeback"

Celebrating the 22nd Yamaha Cod Classic and a bit of a return to “Covid Normal”, it was always going to be interesting to see how potential competitors would turn out for the return of this iconic event after missing out in 2020. The lead up was no smooth sailing with doubt on border crossings, Yarrawonga having a large Covid outbreak (80+ cases) two weeks prior to Cod opening and to top this off, river access downstream below the weir was closed the week before the Cod Classic with flood waters expected to hit in the lead up. All in all, we were lucky to get going at all! Organisation in the lead up was frantic as the usual 6-month+ preparation time was reduced to 2 months when it was decided to go ahead with the event. Many regulations were put in place to run a “Covid safe” Cod Classic but to the competitor’s credit, they followed compulsory guidelines, turned up in numbers way beyond expectation and enjoyed themselves thoroughly. Upon completion of registration a grand total of 1615 anglers had registered, way beyond the expected crowd of 700-1000. A dozen trade stalls, various food vendors along with “Talking Cod” featuring Thomas “The Captain” Pinter and Merv Hughes kept participants entertained and gave them something to look at Friday night. Saturday’s fishing conditions proved pretty tough with a strong wind prevailing for the duration of the day. This forced fisho’s to seek cover with the majority trying their luck up the top end of the lake around Majors Creek, upstream around Bundalong and downstream in the river below the weir. Throw in dirty water from the recent flooding further upstream and a fair amount of weed in some of the shallower areas of the lake, fishing conditions were tough. BUT someone forgot to tell the fish that! Lake Mulwala is traditionally the home of the Murray Cod for lure fishermen but these tactics were thrown out the window by many who chose to go in search of Cod with bait instead. These tactics proved fruitful and the majority saw action on the end of their line be it of legal size or smaller. Mid-morning Kev Gillies was lucky enough to see some attention being paid to his Worm / Yabby cocktail. Next thing Kev was hooked up to a monster and the battle was on. We could draw this story out a fair bit but ultimately, he was rewarded with a monster Cod stretching the tape out to a massive 123cm. Wow wee! Junior angler Jack Dominick (13) was another to see some action on his well-placed Chicken bait. A tense struggle ensued for Jack with him landing a Cod any angler would be proud of. This mighty specimen measured in at 113cms, a super effort for a young fella. At days end anglers returned their photos for verification and they came in at a steady pace. Ultimately both these boys went in as over night leaders and the ones to catch Sunday morning.
Saturday night saw the majority of the field converge on the Mulwala Football Ground to see the evenings proceedings unfold. In excess of 150 major prizes were given away through juniors and adults lucky door prizes and a new addition, the “Mega Raffle”. The major boating package winner on Saturday night was a lucky Kayne Wilson. With less than 20 seconds to go to claim his prize, Kayne came bolting through the crowd not believing what he had won.
Kayne was actually in the car park putting his grandmother into a car when his name was read out. He did not believe his friends when they said he had won and he had to get to the presentation area ASAP. To say he was excited is an understatement! Sunday morning conditions were a massive improvement on Saturday giving anglers a chance to get out on the lake proper and have a fish. Plenty more Cod photos were returned for verification but ultimately, the previous days leaders were never in doubt of being caught. It turned out that both the 123cm for the adults and 113cm for the juniors are both record size Cod for their sections in the 22-year history of the Cod Classic. Well done to Kev and Jack.
All fishing sections winners were presented with their goods followed by a multitude of major prizes being drawn for those who had caught fish. Junior competitor Tom Carroll was the lucky winner of the Open Carp prize draw boat. He didn’t give away much with his speech but was stoked to be going home with a new toy! Ian Shalders won the adults “Catch & Release” draw boat. Throw in a slab of Great Northern, Ian was a super happy angler.
A massive thank you goes out to the many sponsors, donors and volunteers who support the Cod Classic. Your assistance is appreciated and we could not do without you. We look forward to another successful event in 2022 and a continued fight back from Covid. Cheers, Tony Bennett, 2021 Cod Classic Event Director, Mulwala Football Netball Club.
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