THE Ballarat Fly Fishers club recently hosted the 2015 Oceanic fly fishing championships on Lake Wendouree and Lake Fyans with teams from Australia, New Zealand and Canada competing for the Oceanic title.
The Oceanic Fly Fishing Competition started back in 1996 with the idea of giving the fly fishermen from Australia, New Zealand and Canada every 2 years a chance to compete on the world stage in readiness for the World and Commonwealth Fly Fishing Championships it was thought that the fly fishermen from this part of the continent didn’t get enough exposure to the pressure cooker environment of competitive fly fishing unlike their competitors in the European countries which have European Championships and a lot of the fly fishermen competing it is their lively hoods not just a hobby like our guys here in Australia, some of the European Countries are sponsored by governments and large of corporate sponsors and are acknowledge as a worldwide sport. Whereas here in Australia the fly fishermen have no government funding and a few corporates jump onboard and help out but it is mainly up to the individuals and the Australian Fly Fishing governing body Fly Fish Australia to raise funds to help guys head overseas and represent their country Australia on the world fly fishing stage.
Royce Baxter a member of the Ballarat Fly Fishers Club and also National President and chairman of selectors, ten times representative of Australia in World and Commonwealth fly fishing championships was the Oceanic Championships organizer for 2015. Royce with many members of the Ballarat Fly Fishers club put a programme together to run this year’s event which is by no means easy to coordinate. The logistics of running the competition started nearly 2 years ago straight after the last Oceanic Championships which were held in New Zealand. We had to organize venues, travel arrangements, boats, transport, catering, licences, fish stockings etc the list went on but over time and after many meetings at the Ballarat fly fishers clubrooms everything came together to host the 2015 Oceanic Fly Fishing Championships and we were lucky enough to gain a major sponsor from one of our local businesses Ballarat Mazda to be able to transport competitors and boats in between venues, Fisheries Victoria also was a very big contributor to the competition releasing over 3000 2 year old Rainbow trout up to 45cm in length into both Lake Wendouree and Lake Fyans which was a massive bonus for everyone as the competitions are all catch and release so we will have some excellent fishing for months and years to come from this event a win win for everyone. The 2015 Oceanic Championships was going to be completed by two teams from Australia, two teams from New Zealand and one from Canada. The competition was going to be run with 5 three hour fishing sessions Day 1 Lake Wendouree Session 1 9am – 12noon lunch Session 2 1pm – 4pm Day 2 Lake Fyans Session 3 9am-12noon lunch Session 4 1-4pm
Day 3 Final Session 5 Lake Wendouree 9is-12noon Saturday Evening Presentation Dinner Australia had two teams competing in the 2015 Oceanic Championships which were Australia Gold and Green these teams consisted of fly fishermen from all over Australia, to gain entry into these teams is by no means an easy feat you have to compete in state championships as well as national championships which takes up plenty of time, money and effort and covers thousands of kilometres, and yes the ultimate ingredient catch fish on a consistent basis in all weather conditions on rivers and also lakes and all different locations which can be very difficult to do but that where the cream of the crop comes to the top and then the National selectors look at the all the results from all over Australia and the teams are then selected. The competition started off with two practice sessions on both venues Lake Fyans and also Lake Wendouree on alternating days, over these days the fly fishermen gained some valuable insight and knowledge into what the fish were feeding on the fly patterns that were working at different times of the day the fly lines to use either floating, Intermediate or fast, slow or medium there are so many different variable that have to be considered to get the ultimate results with members from teams talking tactics within their own countries and swapping experiences from the fishing sessions and also guidance from local fly fishermen and knowledge that they passed on to enable the guys to gain the upper hand when the actual competition started all this theory can all go out the window if the weather conditions are different to those on practice days than those on actual competition days but every fly fisherman has a plan B.
Day one of competition on Lake Wendouree saw the fishing start off with a bang with plenty of caught in the morning session with overcast cloudy conditions with a good breeze Josh Flower from Tasmania a member of the Australia Gold team scooping the pool with 7 fish.
The second session proved to be very difficult with bright blue skies and hardly if any wind at all which makes fly fishing on Lake Wendouree very difficult if impossible due to the shallowness of Lake Wendouree the fish seem to just sit down in the weed and feed and are not very active at all. Day two of competition saw fly fishermen in cars and boats in tow head up to picturesque Lake Fyans at the foot of the Grampians. The weather conditions played a big part in proceedings again in the third and fourth sessions with some patchy cloud and light to variable wind conditions with most fly fishermen being able to catch a fish. Lake Fyans is a different fishery to Lake Wendouree with the main difference being water depth of up to 6 meters compared to 2meters in Wendouree., Lake Fyans has lots of drowned trees when the lake was formed many years ago both lake have very familiar food characteristics, mud eyes, yabbies, nymphs, mayfly, smelt or minnows, snails, scud etc.
The challenge to the Oceanic competitors was to work out what the fish were feeding on during the hours of the competition and have the flies that the trout would eat. Day three of competition and the last session saw the results neck and neck between Australia Gold and New Zealand Silver. Conditions that greeted competitors was not too bad for fly fishing Wendouree with a bit of cloud and a good breeze the fly fishermen were full of optimism with these conditions it was down to the last three hours of competition who would win, would the Aussie bring home the gold or would the Kiwi’s steal it out from underneath our eyes. Rods were rigged game plans in place the gong went off and boats headed in every different direction on Lake Wendouree it was just a waiting game for the next three hours to see who wins the Oceanic Championship for 2015. The fly fishermen returned some with smiles others with long faces, there were plenty of tales of the one that got away and the one’s they dropped off and missed and lots of stories which will be bandied around later at the presentation. The competition has a massive success for all concerned a lot of time, effort and work put in by a lot of people to run the event, over the competition with 25 fly fishermen competing over 15 hours of fishing time there was 172 trout caught and released consisting of 9 Brown Trout and 163 Rainbow Trout the most successful fly patterns used by competitors over the competition were Tom Jones, Magoo, Shrek, Coral and JD Damsel.
Congratulations go to Australia Gold team winning the Oceanic Fly Fishing competition for 2015 of which two Ballarat Fly Fishers club members Brian Hughes and Tom Jarman were apart of WELL DONE GUYS
Second Place New Zealand Silver
Third Place New Zealand Black
Individual Results The individual Gold Medallist winner of the Crosse Mandino Medal was
1st Chris Young New Zealander
2nd Craig Dawson Australia
3rd Paul Baker New Zealander.