by Jarrod Day
Each year, the annual Mornington Peninsula Tea Tree snapper fishing competition incorporating the Victorian Amateur Snapper Championship is held. This begins on the first weekend in November and is one of the largest snapper fishing competitions held in the country. This season, it is in its Twenty-ninth year with 2003 anglers competing in relatively good conditions. Traditionally, the weather gods are usually not on the angler’s side and it is very difficult for smaller craft to get out. This year however, there was an exception with Friday afternoon being rough for smaller craft but as the sun rose, the wind backed off allowing the majority of anglers to get out. Saturday morning blew around 5-10 knots and with a forecast as good as this, plenty of snapper were caught and released.
Weigh ins are held from the Friday morning at 5am until 12 midnight at the Carrum, Mornington, Rye and Hastings ramps. While the official weigh in is held at the Mornington racecourse on the Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm.
With thousands of onlookers and competitors, the results were drawn and with $120,000 worth of prizes to be given away, the competition was a huge success.
Out of the 2536 snapper that were weighed in the heaviest was a 9.88kg brute which was caught early on Friday morning in Western Port by Leigh Johnston while fishing with his best mate Richard Grevan, a local and very accomplished angler. Second place was an 8.95 kilo fish caught by Lyda Ryalwhich was also caught in Western Port and third place was an 8.7 kilo fish caught by Alan Finch which was caught in Port Phillip Bay.
For the junior category, the largest fish was a 7.22 kilo caught in Port Phillip Bay by Dillon Paul, second place went to young Marlon Blackford with a 6.92 kilo fish from Port Phillip Bay and third place was a nice 6.64kg snapper caught by Jake Maxwell.
First Random capture Prize
The major prize from JV Marine World was a Quintrex 4.3 metre Escape with Quintrex trailer, fitted with a 40hp four stroke Suzuki motor with power tilt and trim. The boat was fully fitted with painted hull, anchor well, fold down seats, rear folding lounge, folding drink holders, Ace All Covers Canopy, Lowrance depth sounder, marine radio and aerial, navigation lights, registration and safety gear. This went to Warren Michaud.
Second Random capture Prize
A 4.0 metre Quintrex Dart and Dunbier trailer fitted with a 30hp Suzuki two stroke motor and a bimini from Ace All Covers, registration and safety gear from JV Marine World. This went to Gerald Sammut.
Third Random Capture Prize
A Quintrex 3.70 metre Dart and Dunbier trailer with a 15hp Suzuki two stroke motor which went to Robert Thorne
Overall, this year’s competition was of epic proportions with plenty of anglers finding success in both water ways. With the saying 'you’ve gotta be in it to win it' being a true factor, catching the heaviest fish is always going to be a huge task no matter of what level of angling ability you have. What’s better is that this year’s winner was on board with his best mate, an angler that is one of the most respected, determined and successful anglers that fish’s the Port. One that spends the time to escape the crowds fishes solo and learns from their past experiences to seek out big fish. Richard is one angler that strives for this success and what’s even better about this story is that he is one of the few anglers that takes pride in seeing other anglers catch such a prestigious fish and is the first to congratulate them. People like this are the ones that deserve to win such a competition and whether or not they are the angler or the one who owns the boat, their guidance is the thing the needs to be applauded.
Still, this season’s snapper competition has been another huge success for Victorian anglers and with only 364 days until the next annual Tea Tree tournament, I can only sit back and hope that next year, I will get the time off to fish it myself.
To all those that fished the tournament, congratulations and well done.
While we are still only in the beginning stages of the Victorian Snapper season, the next two months are going to be a true eye opener. Many factors come into play when searching out snapper and they can all be forgotten during the November period when the fish feed well before spawning in December. With the snapper season alive and well, if you’re looking to catch a snapper, both Port Phillip Bay and Western Port are the places to be fishing.
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