Hamilton Regional River Championships - Oraka River Feb 2024.
Twenty anglers competed in this event, fished on the Oraka stream, with the result being dominated by the younger members of Sport Fly Fishing New Zealand who once again demonstrated how healthy the future of competitive fishing is in this country.
Conditions on the Saturday were challenging to say the least, with a very strong wind and a classic “four seasons in one day” scenario, including torrential rain and intermittent thunderstorms but that did not stop Ollie Bassett and Noah Shapiro, a member of the 2023 Youth World Championship winning USA team who will soon be studying at Waikato University, catching double figures of fish in the first session, before coloured water and increased fishing pressure made subsequent sessions somewhat trickier.
In a repeat of last year’s result, event organiser Ollie Bassett eventually took out all three sessions for first place, but this year he was pushed hard by good friend Noah and Nathan Pollard, also a student, who completed the top three. As well as Noah doing so well on his New Zealand competitive debut, mention should also be made of Andrej Banas and Tom Johnson continuing to shine in their first year as members of SFFNZ and just missing out on the podium.
Top female angler was Rachel McNae and the biggest fish at 47cms was caught by Phil Connor.
Ollie said “the Oraka is a tricky venue as it is narrow and overgrown in places, and the weather and flow changed a lot across the three sessions. I used a shorter rod than I would normally for Euro, to
deal with the confined space and needed to continually change tactics to suit the conditions. It was amazing to win again and share the podium with two of my closest fishing friends”
In his role as organiser, Ollie was particularly keen to thank a number of farmers who granted access outside of the town domain allowing SFFNZ to increase the number of beats to meet higher demand for the competition this year, as well as Noah who assisted him in marking it out and his parents for coming along to support him (and bring him food !) as well as helping with the scoring.
Noah Shapiro 2nd, Ollie Bassett 1st, Nathan Pollard 3rd
Noah Shapiro in mid battle.