Hamilton & Tauranga Regional Champs 2011

Report by Belinda Thomas

The Hamilton championship started off with a flurry of reorganisation. Since marking the previous weekend the Waimakariri had coloured significantly and not recovered enough to be included. An early start by the organisers meant that beats were re-marked and we were able to have all anglers fish the Waihou. Numbers were drawn, controllers briefed and all were off.

Conditions were somewhat steamy as humidity reached extreme levels with overcast skies sealing in the moisture. The first session didn’t see much, if any sun, but several beats seemed to have plenty fish more in tune with the early bird philosophy. Garth Plank, Sam Bourne, Aaron West and Mark Clasper kept their controllers on their toes with 15, 15, 14 and 14 fish measured respectively, about 1 every 8 minutes. Garth managed to survive a sprat attack, hooking plenty of fish that didn’t measure, and Aaron proved that arriving ½ an hour late to start was no handicap at all. This put Garth in an early lead, closely followed by Aaron, Sam in 3rd and then Mark. These four accounted for 42% of the fish caught.

Session two saw the cloud break a little to treat anglers and controllers to punishing sun and plague numbers of flies. Hats were dipped in the water and the river started to look tempting to drink, most didn’t succumb, but everyone has their fingers crossed that Nick will be okay! Aaron took the river by an absolute storm and scored 18 fish, the most in any session over the weekend and the biggest of the day at 49 cm. Neil Hirtzel counted 11 fish, and Brendan Lyon and Kyle Melnyk both measured 10 each, so the good numbers were still coming with only 9 fewer fish caught this session. Again the top four anglers took a large percentage of the fish, this time 38%, with Aaron alone accounting for 14%. Rob Vaz and Craig Farrar fish consistently well over the first two sessions, taking good numbers to the board and were hot on the heels of the leaders. Paul Baker got the second biggest fish of the day with a 46 cm mega-trout.

As would be expected fish numbers dropped in the third session with 86 measured. The number of flies had tripled by now! While the fish had seen some pressure, anglers were feeling it too coping with the heat and the water being somewhat higher than usual. Experience and commitment won through. Aaron took this session with 11 fish, followed by Rob and then Craig with 9 fish each. Mark’s dedication this season paid off and his 8 fish got him 4thplace.

At the end of a hot day’s fishing Aaron took first place followed by Garth, Rob and Craig in 4th. Behind them Kyle Melnyk snatched 5thplace from Mark in 6th, and Nigel Juby in 7th, only a point behind Mark.

The Tauranga Championship on Sunday saw little change in conditions, with a forecast predicting even hotter, more humid conditions, which was perfect for the pesky flies again. A few changes in anglers meant a field of 16 competing. Fish numbers continued to fall with 66 recorded in the first session. In a repeat of the previous day the top three positions were held respectively by Sam, Garth and Aaron. Well done to Sam for winning a very competitive session in his first year, and look out you old hands! Nigel placed 4thwith 5 fish and rumour has it departed from wee wets to do so. Peter Scott and John Bell also caught 5 fish and placed 5thand 6th.

Aaron reversed the order in the next session and took 1stplace from Garth recording 14 fish, including a double header and keeping controller Tim Rich very busy, although not making him move far as many of these fish were taken from one glorious hot spot. John Dibley took 3rdplace and Craig was 4thwith 4 fish. Nigel, Peter, Mark, Brendan, John Bell and Paul also all caught 4 fish and placed in that order with John Bell and Paul tying for 9thplace. That is phenomenally tight scoring! Interestingly the total number of fish caught this session was up 2 on the previous.

The third session really was gruelling as the sun was well and truly thumping down and everyone feeling it. Chris Young cleaned up with 10 fish, again showing considerable promise for an angler in his first year competing. Peter fished thoroughly and recorded 6 fish for 2ndplace from John Bell and Strato Cotsilinis with 4 fish in 3rdand 4threspectively. 40 fish were caught and several blanks recorded proving how hard the fishing and conditions had become.

Garth and Aaron fought it out right to the end, but today Garth took 1stplace. Aaron took 2ndfrom Peter on a count back, followed by John Bell in 4th. The following 7 places were separated by only 2 fish and 3 points, again incredibly close.

The overall scores will give the Regional Points a shake up, but with Manawatu, Hawkes bay and Rotorua still to go its best not to start counting chickens. It has been a very competitive year under the new points system. As you would expect, in this competition the top placings went to the driven and the consistent. Nevertheless the effort, dedication and practise shown this season means there are several ‘newer’ anglers making a name for themselves and a few older hands evolving further into top competition form.

While conditions were punishing for anglers, a special Thank You goes to the controllers. Whereas anglers got some reprieve deep in the spring water controllers really did have to weather the weather on the banks, some without shade. We hope that the opportunity to watch some outstanding fishing surpassed any discomfort and that you enjoyed your day.

Also thank you to the organisers. It was a team effort and particularly impressive given that you were all competing as well. Well done those men!



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