The Australian Anglers Associationís 30th Bi-Annual Convention and Championships began with the opening ceremony in clear skyís and warm weather with the President General of the Australian Anglers Association Graham McPherson welcoming all the competitors to Cowes. After the State Captains from all states represented and New Zealand, unfurled their State and country flags the Championships was then officially opened by the Bass Coast Shire mayor Councillor Neville Goodwin.
A small group of school girls from the Cowes Primary school sung the National Anthem which received warm applause.
Rock and Beach the first event was a good one as anglers fished a range of areas for the biggest bag to gain an early lead in the competition. Among fish caught were Salmon, Mullet, Flathead, Garfish, Snook, Flathead, Snapper and other rock species.
With the Offshore and Estuary competitions on the following 2 days saw anglers come to the weigh in area with excellent bags of Snapper, King George Whiting, Flathead, Barracouta, Garfish, Pike and Snook.
A snapper of 5.250 grams was the heaviest fish caught in the first 3 competitions.
After the first lay day the strong winds caused the cancellation of the next 2 competitions making those anglers that found fish anxious that the fish would still be around.
After the completion of 2 days of Dry Land Casting that saw Western Australia win the Menís and the Veteran Menís, NSW the Veteran Ladies, Queensland winning the ladies and Junior sections. In the Junior individual section Victorian junior Kyle Pettie won back to back Individual Championship titles as he had won previously in 2005 at Yeppoon QLD.
Then it was back to fishing the team events and from the Rock and Beach came good bags Salmon, Mullet, Garfish and an excellent bag of Snook caught by one of the N.S.W. anglersí from the rocks also good bags of Pinkie Snapper were weighed in.
A Trevally of 1.500 grams was caught and weighed in Gillian Wright from NSW; she had previously caught the heaviest Snapper.
The next day it was back out into the Bass Straight looking for the schools of big Barracouta that had been located earlier in the week. Anglers also located schools of Australian Salmon in around the Punch Bowl area but these would not consistently take lures or baits so it was on the drift looking for Pinkie Snapper and Flathead.
Back at the weigh in area teams unloaded their eskies containing Couta, Salmon, Pinkies, Pike, Snook and smaller catches of Mullet and Garfish. King George Whiting was also presented for the weigh in. Victorian Bronwyn Pettie caught the largest King George Whiting of 825 grams.
Leading up to the last dayís of competition anxious team captains scanned the results score board looking at how they could get the upper hand as scores between Victoria and South Australia were very close both having their best anglers in the top ten.
The last Offshore and Estuary competitions saw much the same Species caught and scores were very close.
The Club Marine Trophy, The National Angling Champion in particular was very close with Peter Duivenvoorden from Victoria finishing less then 50 points in front to win from Michael Bailey (South Australia), Tom Dodkins (Victoria) a further 20 points back coming in third.
The best placed Female Angler was Carol Sieger from Victoria only 74 points from the overall winner.
Over 80 anglers competed for the chance to win this trophy.
Fisheries Victoria worked closely with the Australian Anglers Association (AAA) on planning committees for the Phillip Island event.
The Association adopted several responsible angling practises to improve the conservation ethic of its competition.
Snapper, whiting and flathead had their minimum legal lengths voluntarily raised to 30cm and catch limits were reduced for species such as barracouta, pike, mullet and garfish.
The Association introduced a competition ruling for this national event whereby all fish caught and retained were required to be iced. Members of the public were invited to attend weigh-ins at a designated time to receive any surplus fresh fish as a gift from participating AAA anglers. Not surprisingly, this gesture was well received by the non-angling community.
Local Fisheries Officer David Cass provided the competition committee with a safety briefing in relation to dangerous fishing areas around the Bass Coast. This was particularly relevant to the rock and beach competition areas.
While at times the winds of Bass Strait were not kind to competitors this long running event was again a success.