By Trevor Jackson
FOR more than 40 years anglers have flocked to Kingston for the annual surf fishing competition.
Next year will be no different as registrations will open on January 1 for the 42nd instalment of the Kingston SE Lions Club event.
Registration points are scattered throughout the South East.
Big numbers are expected at next years competition, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
In South Australia fishing has been one of few recreational activities which have not be adversely effected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Fishing chairman Lyle Griffin said the coronavirus restrictions had been taken into account and all was set for a big weekend, providing no adverse changes take place between now and then.
With that in mind and people starved of recreational activities, he said they expect a bumper field.
“The last couple of years we have had around 800 to 1000 fishing,” Griffin said.
“There are quite a few people who reckon we might get a big entry – we are still working on the same amount – but you don’t really know how many will sign up.
“I would be very surprised if we don’t get up around the 900 mark.”
Social distancing should not be a problem on the beach, with 87 kilometres to fish.
“The only problem we would have is back at the Lions Park for the weigh in,” Griffin said.
“Most people are pretty good now, so if we can just spread them out on the lawn we should be right.
“When they weigh all the fish on Sunday morning everyone comes in to have a look, so we will have to police that to make sure everyone keeps moving.
“A lot of it is common sense really.
“The rules will change before then probably but we have the report from the health department and so far we are right.”
With a prize pool up to $25,000 it is no wonder so many anglers try their luck, apart from the chance to relax on the beach for a weekend of fishing.
This year’s major prize for the biggest mulloway is a Clark 415 Magnum aluminium boat with a flat carpeted floor and trailer, a Mercury 25hp four-stroke motor, safety gear, plus registration for both boat and trailer.
The package is valued at $15,000 and is certainly worth the effort of wetting a line with a couple of mates.
Griffin has been in charge of the competition for around 12 years, with the highlight for him a bumper field of around 1200 anglers.
“If we average around 800 to 900 we have had a good weekend,” he said.
“One year we had 1300 on our 40th anniversary, where we raffled off a lucky prize of a camper trailer.
“Everyone who registered had a ticket in the draw so it was a big field.”
But fishing is a lot about luck as well as technique.
Griffin said sometime you have big weekends on the fish but sometimes they just don’t bit.
“One year we didn’t have enough fish to fill the trophies we had,” he said.
“Our 40th anniversary we had a lot of fish.
“It is the luck of the draw.
“They are getting a lot of fish up there now so we will see what happens.”
Griffin said early reports suggest anglers are keen.
“I dropped a poster down to Spot On Fishing in Mount Gambier and people were asking when registrations opened,” he said.
“There is a lot of interest this year.”
Registrations can be made at Spot On Fishing, Mount Gambier, Denton Sportswear, Millicent, Kingston Caltex Roadhouse, Mitre 10, Murray Bridge, Aqua Steel Industries, Naracoorte, Swampy’s Marine and Tackle, Kingston, Coorong Hotel Motel, Policeman Point, Mitre 10, Keith and Moors Thrifty-Link, Bordertown until January 22 at noon, then at the main registration centre in the Kingston Information Bay, Policeman Point and Kingston Caltex Roadhouse.
Online options are available for those who can not get into one of the physical outlets, but must be made two weeks before the start of the competition.
The senior section of the competition offers 20 prizes for mulloway and other scale fish, which includes the Clark tinny, along with 10 prizes for shark.
A junior section for anglers under 14 years of age has 10 prizes on offer.
All prizes are judged by weight.