Organisers say although numbers were down this year the weekend's Deniliquin Fishing Classic was the biggest event yet.CASS SAVELLIS February 18, 2014 4:55am
The Deniliquin RSL Fishing Club XXXX Gold Fishing Classic keeps getting better each year, and the weekend’s was no exception.
While official angler numbers did not exceed last year’s record event, organisers believe there were actually more people involved in the whole weekend this year.
A total of 1519 registered anglers took part in the 17th annual classic, taking advantage of 20km of extra river zoning in which to catch a winner.
Short of the classic’s record of 1701 anglers in 2013, organisers say numbers were hampered by the devastating bushfires in Victoria and possibly the rain.
There were 1189 adult and 330 junior registrations, all trying their luck at catching the longest Murray cod, yellowbelly or carp to claim a prize.
There were 65 legal-sized cod and 57 legal-sized yellowbelly landed over the two days of fishing on Saturday and Sunday, again down on last year’s catch.
River levels steadily lowered throughout the weekend, from 2.49m on Friday to 2.4m on Saturday and then 2.33m on Sunday.
Mild temperatures proved comfortable fishing weather, while 15.6mm of rain on Saturday forced dedicated anglers to brave the wet conditions.
Despite registered numbers, RSL Fishing Club member Andrew Jefferies believes overall attendance at the event was well up on last year.
‘‘Early-bird registrations and junior registrations have both gone up,’’ he said.
‘‘We did have a lot of cancellations due to the fires around Victoria, and the rain may have deterred some people.
‘‘We also found that previously even people who weren’t fishing were registering to try and win a boat.
‘‘With the $5 raffle boat prize format this year, people who didn’t fish just bought tickets for that instead.
‘‘But overall the RSL Club was full again for the Prize-arama and there were at least 2000 people at the family night on Saturday (at Classic HQ on the Edward River Oval).’’
Mr Jefferies said the fishing club was pleased with positive feedback from those who participated.
‘‘We had lots of comments about the quality of the prizes; people were saying they definitely got value for money and will be back next year.
‘‘They also said we kept the meals affordable. We actually sold out of meals on Saturday night, which to me says the event was bigger this year crowd wise.’’
Official event caterer Michael Pitt, from Expressgo, said they served close to 1000 meals on Saturday at Classic HQ, selling out of most items by 9pm.
Former Deniliquin man Brad Smith returned home from Albury to collect the champion angler title for the largest native catch for the 870mm cod he landed from his boat using a lure on Saturday morning.
The adult major prize winner of a boat and motor was Nicole Thorpe.
Water has been returned to Kinnairds and Black wetlands to help with their revitalisation after bushfire damaged them in February.
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Members of Murchison Book Club are hosting a literary lunch with Vivien Achia, author of Marrying Italian — When Love is Not Enough.
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