Regional centres have been a hive of fishing activity in recent weeks, with a number of popular annual fishing competitions held. Geraldton hosted the Fisherkid Classic, while farther north the Dampier Classic and Broome Billfish Classic for 2016 were also in July.
Regional fishing competitions are important social and economic events with significant community support and there is a wide range of different events held all across the state each year. As is the case with the three mentioned, there is a variety of fishing competitions held in WA and this means there is something for just about all fishers who enjoy a competitive aspect to their fishing. Usually run by local fishing clubs, these competitions invariably involve a high level of community involvement and help to get more people out on the water fishing.
Many of the competitions are also catch and release, encouraging participants to fish for the future rather than for a feed, and many also include a research component, such as the tagging of billfish before release. The Dampier and Broome billfish competitions both have a long history and are run by local fishing clubs.
These events have helped promote game fishing, a style of fishing which has boomed locally over the last decade due to healthy fish stocks, the popular push for science-based catch and release fishing plus being an attractant for the travelling fishing party. There are regional fishing clubs in just about every major coastal town and they offer a great source of information for anyone interested in learning more about fishing, not to mention the social aspect of their activities. The fishing competitions they hold are also a great way for budding fishers to learn more about specialised aspects of the sport, including game fishing in the case of the Dampier Classic and Broome Billfish Classic.
The Dampier Classic, hosted by the King Bay Fishing Club, was again a great success this year, attracting a good field of boats and fishers. It has been running for more than 40 years and there were plenty of good fish caught across various line classes. As always, the social side of the event was very good, with a great turn-out for the presentation evening.
The Broome Billfish Classic was run by the Broome Fishing Club and attracted around 40 participants in around a dozen boats. They were unfortunately faced with tougher conditions than ideal, arguably the worst weather in the history of the event. The fishing was largely slow and numbers were well down on the previous year, but there was a steady stream of sailfish caught and the comp etition was tight. One major talking point was the recapture of one sailfish which had been tagged not long before the event, and which had been in only fair condition when initially released.
The Geraldton Fisherkid Community Classic was held by the Geraldton and Districts Offshore Fishing Club at their new venue and attracted around 35 kids. The club is keen to support the future generation of fishers and every kid walked away with a Recfishwest prize pack which included all the Recfishwest and SunSmart goodies. It was a catch, click and release event, allowing participants to spread out over popular fishing locations in Geraldton and record their catches. The catch click and release method meant the fish were returned to the water quickly are carefully, helping kids understand correct fish handling and the all-important sustainability message.