Com­pe­ti­tion goes down to the wire

Pilbara News - - Sport - Ali­cia Per­era

Com­pe­ti­tion was fierce at this year’s Bill­fish Shootout held over the WA Day long week­end, with three teams in close con­tention for the over­all ti­tle by the end of the tour­na­ment’s sec­ond day.

Teams Blue Stuff and Blood, Sweat and Beers were neck-and­neck in the lead, closely fol­lowed by Pan­de­mo­nium in Nickol Bay Sport­fish­ing Club’s ma­jor an­nual event at time of print, set­ting up the com­pe­ti­tion to go down to the wire on the fi­nal day.

The three-day tag-and-re­lease com­pe­ti­tion, which tar­gets bill­fish species in­clud­ing sail­fish and mar­lin in wa­ters off Dampier, was due to fin­ish on Mon­day evening.

Event or­gan­iser Ken Mac­Far­lane said ex­pe­ri­enced fish­ers with the top few teams had set the tour­na­ment bar high this year.

“It’s a good com­pe­ti­tion this year be­cause there are three teams right in it, and I think it’s neck-and­neck be­tween them,” he said.

“These guys know what they’re do­ing, they’re not am­a­teurs.

“So there’s no short­age of ex­pe­ri­ence out there.”

The 15th an­nual Bill­fish Shootout drew 26 boats and about 110 an­glers, in­clud­ing from Perth and the Eastern States, with num­bers be­lieved to be down be­cause of sev­eral re­source com­pany shut­downs and bad weather that has dogged the com­pe­ti­tion in the past few years.

The fish­ers who did take part dug deep, catch­ing 64 fish — 19 black mar­lin and 45 sail­fish — within the first two days of the tour­na­ment.

Ryan Sewell from Swell As was named the best in­di­vid­ual an­gler on day one, while Blood, Sweat and Beers’ Scott Medling won the cat­e­gory the fol­low­ing day.

In the ju­nior di­vi­sion, Cooper Hinch­cliffe dom­i­nated across the first two days of com­pe­ti­tion.

Mac­Far­lane said there had been good ca­ma­raderie from all teams on the long week­end and strong sup­port from lo­cal spon­sors.

Fish­ing con­di­tions var­ied on the long week­end, as com­peti­tors got off to a good start with ideal weather on the first day be­fore winds picked up to about 22 knots on the sec­ond, lead­ing to rough wa­ters.

Wind speeds were pre­dicted to worsen fur­ther on the fi­nal day of com­pe­ti­tion to reach nearly gale force strength. Mac­Far­lane said de­spite the con­di­tions, it was good to see lo­cal fish­ers em­brac­ing the chal­lenge to catch bill­fish, some of the fastest fish in the sea.

“They’re fast, they’re strong, they jump, they’re very vis­ual and they do spectacular ac­ro­bat­ics — ev­ery­thing you re­ally want if you’re into that sort of fish­ing,” he said. “Here you can catch them with rea­son­ably in­ex­pen­sive fish­ing gear, so you can get out there on a de­cent day in a 5m ves­sel and catch one . . . so it’s not out of reach for most peo­ple.”

For­mer West Coast Ea­gles player Glen Jakovich re­turned to the Shootout as event MC for a third year and was re­port­edly thrilled to catch his first bill­fish since join­ing the com­pe­ti­tion aboard the Blue Mar­lin on day two.

For a full list of re­sults from the Bill­fish Shootout, see next Wednes­day’s is­sue of the Pil­bara News.

Pic­ture: Brad Beau­mont

Stu­art Proud and Glen Jakovich with a sail­fish caught aboard the Blue Mar­lin.

Pic­ture: Ali­cia Per­era

Blue Stuff’s Tom Radley, Luke Leech and Tameka Dodd were the top team on day 1 of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Pic­ture: Face­book

A black mar­lin tagged by team Get Loose.

Pic­ture: Ali­cia Per­era

Day two best in­di­vid­ual an­gler Scott Medling, cen­tre, with son Leith and MC Glen Jakovich.

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