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Alex's Column 12/11/20

It’s hard to keep pace with the increasing popularity of all-female fishing competitions, not only in the NT but certainly Australia-wide.

One that has been going along quietly for the last 16 years is the big bluewater female competition held out of Nhulunbuy east Arnhem Land.

It’s called the Airnorth Ladies Fishing Classic, and it was great to get an invitation to attend this year from Nhulunbuy Regional Sports Fishing Club President, Chris Arnold.

Basically, I was there to cover the event for NAFA magazine and of course my NT News column.

I have to tell you that it was a real surprise to see just how many female anglers competed.

There were 37 teams and 96 competitors, which is quite amazing given how remote Nhulunbuy (aka Gove) is at the other end of Arnhem Land.

Plus it’s not a big town and it got even smaller after the alumina plant shut down and quite an exodus of displaced workers took place.

The competition is normally held in March but once again Covid 19 put paid to that.

Chris Arnold herself is a keen fisher lady who manages the Gove Tackle and Outdoors shop which is an impressively-stocked establishment.

“Postponing the ladies comp until October this year meant that more than 90% of competitors were Gove locals,” Chris told me.

“Normally it’s about 60% local with the rest coming mainly from Queensland and Darwin.

“But it was a great success once again; the feedback on Facebook went ballistic,” Chris said.

The competition ran for two days, and I had a great time being taxied around by keen angler Dan Cook in his 6m boat.

We certainly covered some ground looking for competitors’ boats to photograph and film.

The area fished was significant: all the way from Cape Wessel right down to Cape Arnhem, a distance of more than 150km.

I flew back to Darwin before the catches and results were finalised, but it seems there were plenty of quality bluewater fish caught.

“The fishing was really good, but there were a lot of sharks about,” Chris told me.

“The girls persisted and many went past the sharks to waiting reefies and pelagic fish.”

Dan and I saw quite a few fish caught, but sometimes we drove around for kilometres without seeing a boat.

In that regard, I think Dan’s boat is aptly named: “Wherethe.…amI”

This year’s winners were a real mother-and-daughter affair; in fact the team is called Like Mother Like Daughter.

Kylee Piddick won Champion Angler and her daughter Tiannah won Champion Runner-up.

The pair also took out the Overall Champion Team award.

As far as I know, there was only one Darwin angler: the ever-affable Sharon Crawley who operates Masterbait products.

The Airnorth Ladies Fishing Classic will be back to March next year, and I would highly recommend to you keen Darwin lady anglers that you get a team together and head over.

A big thank you from me to Chris Arnold and her partner Brett Brodie for looking after me; they were marvelous hosts.

As for my new “old mate” Dan Cook, what a legend he is, a genuine philanthropist if ever there was one.

Nhulunbuy’s Chris Arnold and Darwin’s Sharon Crawley with a pair of tasty reef fish from the Airnorth Ladies Fishing Classic.

Champion Angler in the Airnorth Ladies Fishing Classic, Kylee Piddick, with her ripper brassy trevally.

Tiannah Piddick joined her mum to win Champion Team and Runner-up individually… nice mackerel too.


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