Angling Competition 6th & 7th April 2024

Squidgies and Juniors Club Champions crowned, beasts emerge, and records tumble.

The Rhyll-Phillip Island Angling Club (RPIAC) started it’s twelfth and final angling competition for the 2023/2024 season on Saturday the 6th of April.  As expected, the weather forecast threatened strong winds from the east with up to 5 millimetres of rain.  The reality was somewhat better and despite the adage of “wind from the east, fish bite least” a few anglers anticipated that the wind from the east would instead deliver a beast.  Indeed, it was tough when the wind gained momentum, and boats were turned away from the tidal flow.  At the conclusion of Saturday’s weigh-in at 5:30 pm everyone was hoping for a better day on Sunday.

Hopes for claiming one of the RPIAC Extraordinary Catch Incentives were fading, and the members-only, competition weekend, $1000 first-to-catch prizes, for senior competitors, were drying-up for another season.  The incentives up for grabs were for eligible species that equal or exceed the nominated weight and included: King George Whiting (1000 grams), Snapper (10.0 kilograms), Gummy Shark (20.0 kilograms), Mulloway (25.0 kilograms) and Kingfish (25.0 kilograms).

Sunday started with light drizzle and a hint of wind in Rhyll and around Phillip Island.  Fortunately, Frank and Paula’s charcoal grill made it to the Rhyll foreshore, adjacent to the RPIAC clubrooms, to acknowledge the conclusion of the angling season and to celebrate RPIAC champions.  The lighting of the charcoal can best be described as miraculous as the rain threatened repeatedly to snub the flames.  As the charcoal slowly started to glow, it was clear that Frank and his charcoal grill were gaining control of the day.   The clouds parted, the drizzle subsided, the wind slowed, and the aroma of charcoal-grilled chicken and lamb gyros was set free.  Within hours the sun shone, and onlookers drooled around the Rhyll foreshore.

By 5pm Sunday a crowd of supporters and anglers were gathered around the RPIAC clubrooms and the weigh-in team, comprising Weigh-in Master, Alex Bowden, and Club Captain, Chris Leonardos, ensured that all fish were inspected and weighed.  A total of 52 fish, and 3 cephalopods made an imprint in the weekends’ records and were in contention for prizes from RPIAC-sponsor, Phillip Island Marine. The variety of species was impressive and included snapper, King George whiting, flathead, trevally, salmon, mackerel, southern calamari, and cuttlefish.

The weekend’s Squidgie Mixed Bag Points competition was close, with Byron Griffin weighing-in 2 fish, worth 40 points, to claim second place.  Saige Nicolaci went 1 fish better and closed the weekend with 3 fish, worth 50 points, to finish in first place.

The Junior Weight competition was won by Benji Chihotski who tamed a 910-gram salmon and delivered it to weigh-in.  The Junior Points competition was won by Denver Firth, who was congratulated for weighing-in a King George whiting worth 1120 points (400 grams).

The Senior Heaviest Weight competitions were won by Carrianne Peatey and James Nicolaci, after weighing-in a 1305-gram snapper and a 1225-gram salmon, respectively.  The Senior Points competitions were won by Chris Leonardos and Debra Orr, each catching an impressive trevally, worth 1505 points (1075 grams) and 1344 points (960 grams), respectively.  The Shark competition was uncontested, whilst the Squid/Cuttlefish competition acknowledged a new club record, set by Len Bates, with a spectacular beast, a cuttlefish that weighed 3980 grams.  The Secret Weight prize was reeled-in by Albert Abram, who was closest to the weekend’s secret weight with a 505-gram mackerel (secret weight 495 grams).

This weekend was also a special occasion for the Squidgies (anglers aged 9 and under) and Juniors (anglers aged 10 to 16) as the season’s participation awards and club champions were announced. It was a great opportunity for members to catch up, enjoy a meal, and to thank all volunteers and the weekend’s catering sponsors, Frank and Paula, and Bakers Delight Cowes for their dedication in supporting RPIAC and ensuring the event was an enormous success.

The 2023/2024 RPIAC Squidgie Mixed Bag competition welcomed the participation of budding anglers, who spent quality time outdoors to develop their skills.  The Squidgies’ season closed with a new record total of 68 fish weighed-in.  Saige Nicolaci finished the Squidgie competition in third place, catching 10 fish, with a total of 180 points.  Byron and Harley Griffin were competitive throughout the season, barely separable on the leaderboard leading into this weekend’s final weigh-in.  In an astonishing and unprecedented twist, the final tally was 23 fish each, and a matching score of 430 points!  Byron Griffin and Harley Griffin are both 2023/2024 RPIAC Squidgie Club Champions and were presented with matching trophies to mark their success.

Anglers showed great energy and enthusiasm in the 2023/2024 RPIAC Junior Competition too.  Juniors weighed in another record total of 48 fish for the season.  The Junior’s highest points value fish, a King George whiting worth 1876 points (670 grams), was caught by Manny Fahnle, and the Junior’s heaviest snapper, weighing 4400 grams, was caught by Isabella Bland.  Loklan Newstead finished the season in third place, with a total of 3956 units.  Benji Chihotski impressed throughout the season and finished with a total of 6023 units in the competition, earning the trophy for Runner-up Junior Club Champion.  With a total of 14274 units, Denver Firth, the reigning Junior Club Champion, is now the 2023/2024 RPIAC Junior Club Champion, holding the Junior’s title and bragging rights for another year.

The RPIAC Senior Club Champions will be announced at the RPIAC Senior Presentation Night function on the 18th of May 2024.  RPIAC encourages the sharing of interests and enthusiasm for angling to create lasting bonds and memories.  They promote responsible and sustainable practices and welcome participants in the next competition season, scheduled to commence in Spring 2024.

RPIAC’s clubroom is located adjacent to the Rhyll boat ramp and is open to members and visitors on Fridays (from 5 pm) and competition weekends coinciding with weigh in.   For further information about the club, events, competitions, and rules, please visit the website:

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