Biting big at Cania Dam Fishing Classic
Multiple prizes, including a fishing boat and kayak
IT IS either a sign of tremendous or comedic irony that the grand prize draw of the annual Cania Dam Fishing Classic should go to the man who needed it most.
Ray Dunwoodie, who has attended the annual fishing competition since 1989, said performance-wise, this year was one of his worst.
Through no fault of his own, Mr Dunwoodie found himself plagued with boat trouble and unable to get out on the water.
How lucky it was that he would go onto win the major senior prize, a brand new aluminium fishing tinny with motor and trailer.
“We went on the water for about 30 minutes, but had to pull out because the boat kept breaking down,” Mr Dunwoodie said.
“I’ve been coming every year and I’ve won a couple of prizes, but I’ve never won a fishing boat.”
Mr Dunwoodie joked the boat would make a fine birthday present for his wife.
It was a slim chance of taking away the top prize, as roughly 400 people attended the competition.
The juniors participants went in the running to receive a children’s fishing kayak, which went to Monto resident Cameron Brown.
In addition to these grand prize draws, dozens of lucky draw prizes were given away, including rods, gift sets, bait boxes and more.
The top prize for largest junior perch was a pair of hand-made wooden statuettes, which went to Chloe Thornton and Archie Pointon for gold and silver perch respectively.
Cania Dam caretaker and Fish Stocking Association member Brett Powter said there were enough prizes for 80% of the crowd.
“Most of the lucky draw prizes we’re giving away are at a minimum of $60, some of them going up to $200,” Mr Powter said.
“When you consider it was only $35 for adults and $20 for kids to enter, a lot of people could end up getting double what they got in prize money.”
Troubled conditions, but a good haul
According to Mr Powter, a surprise shower on Saturday night disrupted the event, delaying the evening weigh-in and scaring off the fish on the second day.
“They went off today (Sunday) and weren’t biting at all, but if they’d been fishing last night they would have been biting their heads off,” Mr Powter said.
“The day after it rains, they normally go a bit quiet.”
Despite the weather, fish stocking association member Bevan Benecke said said the results from fish caught were impressive.
“The biggest bass were up around 56cm, that’s well above average,” Mr Benecke said.
“There were plenty of big fish getting caught, they’re the ones the club put in last year.”
The Cania Dam Fishing Classic is the sole competition held, leaving the rest of the year for the Fish Stocking Association to breed and restock the dam with fish.
The competition had a strict rule limiting the capture of saratoga, which were the biggest fish the dam had to offer.
The winning senior catch for saratoga, and the largest fish in the competition overall was Davina Cook, who caught one at 65cm.
Cania Dam is best known for its bass this time of year, and the highest fishing prize, a $500 cash prize and medal, went to Monto resident Matthew Bryan who caught a whopping 56cm bass.
Turnout from the anglers
Attendees turned out from all across the state and further.
People came from as far asWarwick, Longreach and even Sydney to fish.
There were even a few internationals in the mix, including a backpacking couple from Switzerland taking pictures of Cania Dam’s gorgeous scenery along with the many others camped out on the grounds.
Despite this, Mr Powter said the turnout was less than it had been in previous years, due to the general drying up of the population in the region.
“It’s about what we’ve been getting for the last three or four years since the mining downturn,” Mr Powter said.
“All the comps have got lower because we haven’t had all the miners and gas workers up here; used to be every one had a mine shirt, but they all live on the coast.”
Camping this year was free for participants, though Mr Benecke said they were pushed to start charging people.
The fish stocking association receives a grant using fishing permit money to fund the dam but the price of a permit has recently gone up.
“The government lifted the price of a permit from $35 per two adults to $50 per person,” Mr Benecke said.
“What they’re going to end up doing is forcing people not to fish or to come down and fish illegally and end up getting a fine.”
Cania Dam received a $15000 grant.
Funds from the event will go toward restocking the dam to ensure it remains a popular fishing destination.