2011 Cod Classic Report

The 2011 Cod Classic was always going to be one to remember as the recent and sudden passing of Brian McKee, MFNC president of 10 years and the man with the initial idea to run the event was no longer with us leaving a huge hole for the organising committee to fill. I’m sure Brian was sitting along side the big fella up stairs and organised the perfect weather and near trouble free event we had. Brian “Magoo / Macca”, RIP.

In saying near “trouble free”, that’s exactly what we didn’t have after setting up on Thursday. With all in readiness for Friday, tents and marquee’s constructed, merchandise and registrations set up ready to go and seven prize boats in position, we turned up Friday morning to find two motors missing from the boating packages? After a phone call to the police and a few choice words about the low life’s that exist amongst, we soldiered on.

Midday Friday saw the gates open with a steady crowd proceeding through registrations. The ever expanding “Fishing & Outdoors Expo” had something for everybody to look at with over fifty trade stalls in attendance. Rods and reels, lures, spinnerbaits, boats, canoes, kayaks, swags, canopy’s, sunglasses, BBQ’s plus more were there to look at. All exhibitors reported great interest and once again the expo is sure to grow in 2012.

Friday evening saw Rod McKenzie and Gus Storer conduct “Cod Talk”, an informative interactive talk session based around anything that has to do with Cod fishing from catch & release through to lure selection and casting tips. After a comprehensive event briefing, the drawing of the first boating package for all competitors who had registered up until 8:30pm took place. Every body held their breath in anticipation but it was the whoops and hollers heard by the crew that included Michael Fox that rang out loudest. Michael was the first of many lucky winners for the weekend.

At the close of registrations Saturday morning, 2932 super keen anglers (2541 Adults, 391 Juniors) had nominated, thus being our second largest crowd ever behind the 2009 -10th anniversary celebrations.

Saturday’s fishing conditions were absolutely perfect with a 29 degree day and only a slight breeze. Fish were being brought in at an amazing rate but unfortunately the majority of them were carp! In saying that though, some quality cod were presented and none better than that of Stephen McKenna of Shepparton. Stephen’s monster stretched the tape out to a very healthy 108cms.

Thanks to Old Town Canoes & Kayaks (BLA), the inaugural “Australian Canoe & Kayak Cod Fishing Championships” were run alongside the Cod Classic itself on Saturday only. With the canoe & kayak fishing scene growing daily, it was only a matter of time for this band of keen fisho’s to have their own individual event. Twenty four paddlers took to the water in search of a cod or two that would land them the coveted title. Alan Parish was the lucky man to hook a 64.5cm cod and the privilege of becoming the first Australian Canoe & Kayak Cod Fishing Champion.

Saturday night saw approximately 4500 people converge on the Mulwala football ground for the night’s activities. “Flathead Fred” kept the children entertained for an hour with his energy filled kids fun fishing show. Following this, lucky door prizes were given out. Amazingly, 2400 of the 2541 adult competitors received a lucky door prize. All major lucky door prizes were then drawn followed by giving away another three boating packages. The highlight was to see Michael Cjepa (Adult early entrant winner) make his way through the crowd with no less than 10 seconds to spare to claim him prize. Michael was at his car ready to leave when his name was called out. Not being the fittest of creatures, Michael was absolutely breathless when he made it to the presentation stage. Being put on the spot to talk was impossible for him! This is what the thrill of winning a Cod Classic boating package is all about. To close out the evening many “encouraging hecklers” stayed around to witness the final round of the Mulwala Water Ski Club Pro Casting Championships. Yours truly was lucky enough to hang on and take out the title from previous Australian champions, Adam Royter and Nick Jeans.

Sunday morning’s conditions saw only the brave or very silly in some cases head out onto the lake. Wind’s that would blow a dog off a chain made things very tough indeed. Reports of numerous boats being swamped overnight or capsized during the morning were about. To negate this many headed downstream to tackle the lot less treacherous river. Again fish numbers were high with the majority being carp.

Presentations for all fishing categories got under way Sunday after the massive task of checking all carp catch card data. Anxious fisho’s gathered in hope to hear their name being called either as winner of a fishing section or one of the many fishing draw prizes on offer. The juniors got onto some nice fish with Tom Webster taking out first place with a beauty measuring 73cm. Tom also took the coveted junior prize of Swagman Lures Junior Champion of Champions with his cod. In the adults section, Stephen McKenna’s 108cm monster was not passed allowing him to take home the Mulwala Football Netball Club Champion Angler title. Following behind Stephen’s fish were two great specimens measuring 95 and 88cms. The SMAK Lures Female Champion was taken out by Helen Pyle with a 73cm green fish. Three more boats were given away, the raffles were drawn and then all participants took off looking for a good night’s sleep.

All in all, the event was a massive success. An estimated 1400 boats took part making it a site to be seen once again. As indicated by the fishing statistics, native fish numbers were slightly down (17%) on the 2010 event but an interesting fact was that quality size cod measuring 65+ were up 120% on last year. The return carp throughout the lake and river was evident with over 2700 being weighed in compared to 400 last year.

To round out the weekend, 8 golfing tragics took to the magnificent fairways of the Yarrawonga & Border golf course to contest the 7th “Cod Classic Invitational Golf Championships”. Rules such as if you do not hit it you don’t count it, if you can retrieve it within 10 seconds from the tee you can have it again, you could choose to have 1 kick and 1 throw somewhere within your round and all sledging is fair whist having your shot made for an interesting and very funny morning. Under a new scoring system that saw our official handicapper actually not win for the first time over the past three years, two rather different golfers tied for 1st. Adam Thompson and Merv Hughes both finished with great scores of 72 to share the prestigious trophy. Unluckily, rules state that you can’t win in your first year of participation so Gerald “Aqua” Flanagan was relegated to eighth even thought he had a score of 71!

Finally, I would like to thank the many old and new sponsors who supported our event. With the ever increasing demand for the sponsorship dollar you contributions are greatly appreciated and help make the Cod Classic the success it is today. Your generosity is very humbling and I hope it can continue for the future.