Angling Competition 9th & 10th December 2023

‘Twas the Comp Before Christmas: RPIAC’s Holiday Angling Adventure

‘Twas the comp before Christmas, when all through the bay, not a fish was stirring, not even a wrasse. The lines were hung in the rod racks with care, in hopes that a snapper or whiting would be there. The 6th Rhyll-Phillip Island Angling Club (RPIAC) competition of the 2023/2024 season kicked off under a sky more suitable for ducks than anglers, defying the traditional summer sun. Despite the weather’s mood swings on the 9th and 10th of December, the Rhyll boat ramp was subdued and the carpark offered ample space for any angler with more enthusiasm than a kid on Christmas morning.

While the clouds wept with joy, the anglers, armed with raincoats and optimism, embarked on aquatic quests.  The festive atmosphere was palpable, with participants eager to make the most of their time on the water before the holiday rush. Split Shot, a band of local musicians, rocked the foreshore, greeting visitors, supporters, and anglers to Sunday’s weigh in and the post-competition presentation.  The fish, perhaps wary of the season’s festivities, seemed to play a game of hide and seek, adding to the challenge.

A total of 34 fish, 1 shark, and 1 calamari were weighed-in, with Club Captain, Chris Leonardos, and Weigh-in Master, Alex Bowden, ensuring that each fish tale could be validated.  As expected, the snapper and King George whiting were abundant, however other eligible species, including flathead, trevally, leather jackets, salmon, and gummy sharks were also around.

Now, in its sixth year, the RPIAC’s first to catch, members only, competition weekend Extraordinary Catch incentives for five eligible species remain in the bank.  The nominated species for a first-to-catch $1,000 prize, for fish equal to or exceeding the nominated weight, are: King George Whiting (1,000 grams), Snapper (10.0 kilograms), Gummy Shark (20.0 kilograms), Mulloway (25.0 kilograms) and Kingfish (25.0 kilograms).

The Squidgie Mixed Bag competition, for anglers aged 9 or younger, celebrated the achievements of Harley Griffin, a contender in the championship, who weighed-in 2 fish, soaring to the top of the weekend with a whopping 40 points, while Saige Nicolaci and Byron Griffin were hot on their fins with, each with 1 fish worth 20 points.  RPIAC encourages participation in recreational angling and welcomes newcomers to learn more about participation in the club’s activities.  RPIAC offers complimentary membership to children, aged 16 and under, so they can develop skills and an awareness of sustainable and responsible angling. 

The Junior competition, for anglers aged 10 to 16, saw Piper Nicolaci take the spotlight, netting a double victory in both weight and points competitions with a snapper weighing 495 grams and a King George whiting worth 938 points (335 grams).

The senior anglers weren’t just there to make up the numbers. John Muscat and Debra Orr showed the youngsters how it’s done, snagging the top spots in the Heaviest Weight category with snappers that could rival Santa’s belly.  John’s snapper tipped the scales at 3615 grams, and Debra’s came in at 2870 grams.

Not to be outdone, Chris Leonardos and Tenille Preddice hooked the top points competition, weighing in a trevally worth 1491 points (1065 grams) and a King George whiting worth 1260 points (450 grams), respectively.

The Shark competition was won by Brendan Garlepp, who had the weekend’s biggest gummy shark, weighing 4280 grams.  The Secret Weight prize was awarded to Steve Bland, who was so close to the secret weight (456 grams) with his 440-gram King George whiting, it was like guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar at the school fete.

After the final presentation, the club dished out pizza and salad, because nothing says “great catch” like a crusty slice from Bazarre Pizza Cafe. The feast was open to members and fish tales alike, with non-members welcome to join the fun, provided they signed a membership form quicker than a fish takes to bait. The next RPIAC event is already the talk of the town, scheduled for the 20th and 21st of January 2024. It’s shaping up to be a season where anglers can not only show off their skills but also their best fish jokes.  For those looking to get in on the fun, visit the club room by the Rhyll boat ramp, have a chat with a local, or check out Just remember, the early bird might get the worm, but it’s the early angler who catches the fish!

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