Plenty of fight at champs
YOUNGSTER Coby Coghill jagged a big one during the World Sooty Grunter Championship at Eungella Dam on the weekend.
The Clermont lad weighed in a 469mm fish, which was the biggest towards the end of competition, only to be beaten by a 494mm specimen caught by Mackay's Keith Hurt.
However, the trophy for overall champion angler went to Dave Creffield of Collinsville, who weighed in six fish with a total length of 2.485m, or an average size of 414mm.
Creffield was runner-up last year to two-time champion Daniel Grech of Mackay, who won on countback after the two had tied.
Grech placed fifth this year, out of the maximum number of 80 competitors, who hauled in 246 fish over three sessions, with an average size of 369mm.
Coby's father Dean was overall runner-up.
The competition raised what is expected to be a record $10,000 for the Mackay Area Fish Stocking Association, which will use the money to stock barramundi fingerlings in the Pioneer River.
The association's Jeff Eales said the fish caught were the biggest seen in the six years that the competition had been run, and were getting up to 3.5kg to 4kg.
“They are a very good sporting fish,” Eales said.
“They hit extremely hard.
"On the first run a lot of people think they have a barra, they are very aggressive.”
All fish caught were kept alive in a holding dam and released after weigh-in.
Eales said the competition was the only one known in the world specifically targeting sooty grunter, which, although not very good eating, were a very good sporting fish.
Anglers came from Sydney, Clermont, Townsville and the Mackay region, and seven juniors won prizes of $50 worth of lures.
The fish stocking association needs the funds from the competition to replenish barramundi in the Pioneer River, because it is funded only to stock the three dams in the Mackay region – Eungella, Teemburra and Kinchant.
Eales said barramundi being caught at Eungella were massive, with some reaching 1200mm and a weight of 25kg.
“A mate from Townsville took out his father-in-law, who never before had caught anything bigger than a whiting, and he caught an 1180mm barra.
“That's a big, fat fish.”
Barramundi taken from dams are not considered good eating, so fishermen usually target salt water fish for the table. However, there is a closed season from November to February, when no fish can be taken, and a bag limit of five at other times.
Eales said the association had received strong support from businesses, including naming rights sponsor the Meng Group.
The top 10 fishermen were: 1 Dave Creffield, 2 Dean Coghill, 3 Wade Inskip, 4 Simon Goldsmith, 5 Daniel Grech, 6 Russell Bilney, 7 Michael Schneider, 8 Phillip Lyons, 9 Matt Coleman, 10 Jason Cameron.