The fourth annual Adder Rock Offshore Kayak Fishing Challenge held on the 5th and 6th of March, cemented its place as one of the top offshore kayaking competitions in the country. With reasonable conditions gracing the usually turbulent waters of Point Lookout, some spectacular fish were landed over the course of the three fishing sessions and good times were shared by a top bunch of people. As always, the Tocknells from Australian Kayak Specialists ensured the event was run smoothly, and along with event sponsors, had plenty of great prizes up for grabs along with great goodies from BLADE, Pulsator lures and Springbok foods in the welcome packs. There was also a top barbecue on the briefing night for all of the competitors to get some nourishment and discuss tactics in preparations for the fishing that lay ahead.
The competition consisted of three sessions over the course of two days. The 65 entrants attending this year launching from the surprisingly calm beach at Adder Rock on the beautiful North Stradbroke Island in Queensland. It was fantastic to see 20 newcomers to the event with a number of them making use of the safety systems in place at the event to get a safe introduction into offshore kayak fishing. A dedicated jet ski crew, radio channel and registration process for safety ensured all contestants were looked after while on the water. This makes the Adder Rock event perfect for beginners and seasoned offshore anglers alike. Scoring was determined on a length-based system whereby points are given per centimetre of fish and multiplied by 0.5 for a fish under 50cm, 1.5 for fish over a metre and 2.0 for fish over 1.5 metres, with individual scores going towards placements in the solo comp as well as to the team scores. The Sunshine Coast team held the trophy from 2015 but two Brisbane teams, one Gold Coast team and The Mexicans, from south of the border, were all looking to wrest it from them this year.
The first session from sunrise until 11:00am on Saturday morning saw, as always, a distinct split between the contestants as they paddled off either north towards shag rock and middle reef, or east along the coastline for the trek out to boat rock. There were a good number of fish landed at each location, with notable captures including Dave ‘Sprocket’ McGregor’s 155cm horse of a spanish mackerel and Greg Hohns’ big barracuda, as well as a few other (very respectable) spaniards and solid spangled emperor gracing the measuring board. Jarrad Rogers also put in a good performance with a trifecta of a spaniard, snapper and spangled emperor in the one session. The conditions were definitely sloppy once out past the lee of the headland, with just under 15kts of south-easterly making its presence known along with the solid swell. These conditions remained consistent for the entire weekend. I headed to my usual spot near shag rock and fished with soft plastics for a pan-sized snapper which made for a great meal that night.
The afternoon session was quieter for the most part, with far fewer pelagics being captured. The notable exception being Justin Mitchell’s beautiful baby black marlin which put on a few jumps for show and was released in a very healthy state to give him a well-deserved 300 points and the title of first person to land a billfish in the Adder Rock competition. Plenty of reef fish were caught during this session too, with the area’s mainstay of snapper and spangled emperor making up the bulk of the points over the course of the afternoon. Spangled emperor are a fantastic fish to target with the area producing good numbers most years. The pair that I caught in this session certainly hit hard and fought dirty and I was lucky to land mine even on 40lb leader after it found its way to a coral bommie under heavy drag. Even though there was a bit of wet weather, it was a great session to wrap up the first day on before resting and packing for Sunday.
After a good night’s rest, the Sunday morning session commenced and followed a similar pattern to Saturday morning. Boat rock saw a few very nice fish landed, with the fishing becoming a bit slower around the closer reefs than in previous days. I had a few heart and tackle breaking encounters with some XOS toothy fish in the blue water, but didn’t land any of them… bugger!
Again, the fish weighed during this session were nothing short of spectacular, with some big mackerel in the 140cm bracket landed. With the weigh-in completed by 10:00am, the prize giving got started just before lunchtime, with Sprocket taking out the competition by a big margin on a whopping 503 points courtesy of his big spanish and a couple of good snapper. Justin was second on 300 points with his marlin, then last year’s winner Robbie Thompson on 291 points with a mixed bag of mackerel, snapper, spanglies and a few other reef fish. Robbie also took home the prize for most species caught.
The team competition was fierce and the camaraderie was fantastic. Each session saw top spot fluctuate and it was always a very small margin separating the Brisbane Bonitos and the reigning champions, the Sunny Coast Sand Whiting. By the end of the Sunday session though, the Brisbane Bonitos were revealed to have finished on top thanks to consistent captures from most of the members. I look forward to getting back and defending the title next year!
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It was certainly a great competition with an exceptional calibre of fish landed. The top 11 competitors all landed at least one fish over 1 metre in length, and 25 competitors landed a keeper over the three sessions. Some great prizes were on offer as always, including two kayak upgrade vouchers, a sharkshield, tonic sunglasses, a beachwheels kayak cart, a set of lockracks, a lowrance sounder, a spear gaff made by competitor Wayne Eden (who got 4th place) and a couple of handmade gaffs from Rocking Rod Works (one of which I happily laid claim to) and a great selection of rods, reels and apparel from penn, shimano and ugly stik. Needless to say, with an array of prizes like that everyone who registered on the board, took something home.
The Adder Rock competition is always one of the highlights on the kayak fishing calendar, and this year’s event was certainly no exception. If the previous years are anything to go by, the competition seems to keep on growing, and next year’s turnout will hopefully be even better. If you’re looking for one of the best experiences that kayak fishing has to offer, do yourself a favour and get along to Adder Rock 2017.