AT LEAST 1000 hopeful punters packed into the Evans Head Fishing Classic outdoor compound on Friday night dreaming of the possibility of being $20,000 richer by the end of the night.
But there could only be one first prize winner and that reward ultimately went to 22-year-old Maclean resident Rhyan Buckley.
"I'm ecstatic; it was the last thing on my mind," Mr Buckley said of the win.
The lucky cash prize capped off a great week for the keen angler, who had already caught the second-biggest cobia of the week, winning $500 and a new fishing rod.
His good mate and boat captain Stephen Pateman also won the amberjack category.
"It was a bit of a fairytale all round," Mr Buckley said of the week.
"We're splitting the money, $10,000 each - that's was an agreement we made before we came," Mr Buckley said.
"My half will probably go towards a boat for myself."
Three more prizes worth more than $10,000 were awarded as part of the final day's raffle, and the dedicated anglers responsible for the biggest catches of the week also received a total of $18,625 across the 13 fish categories.
Evans Head Fishing Classic secretary Max Barton said the seven-day event had been another success, even though numbers were down on last year.
"We had 711 entrants this year, which is down about 10% from the year before," he said.
"I think the wet weather leading up to the competition was one of the factors that would have contributed to that."
"But this year we had a sunny start and end to the classic, with a few rainy days in between."
Mr Barton said there were a few stand-out catches over the week, including a 7.145kg flathead caught by Glen Hitchens.
Caught on the morning of the final day, it knocked off a 5kg flathead caught at the start of the week by local vet Rod Blake.
But don't think the anglers are going to give away too many secrets about where they hooked their big fish.
When asked where that flathead was caught, Mr Barton said: "In the water".
$20,000 first prize raffle winner: Rhyan Buckley
BIGGEST FISH (first prize, $1000 cash)
Whiting: 0.720kg, Justin Robson
Bream: 1.465kg, Shane Perry
Dart: 0.690kg, Justin Crisp
Flathead: 7.145kg, Glenn Hitchens
Luderick: 1.175kg, Tanya Bennett
Tarwhine: 1.290kg, Carl Phillip
Snapper: 927mm Luke Pendrich
Taylor: 3.320kg Jeff Smith
Teraglin: 3.615kg, Brendan Bahr
Pearl Perch: 4.015kg, Mick McGillivray
Cobia: 21.580kg, Scott Fleming
Mulloway: 25.340kg, Mitch Rizzardini
Yellowtail/Kingfish/ Amberjack: 10.680kg, Stephen Pateman.
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