Ray Maher, of Modanville, caught one of the bigger fish at the Evans Head Fishing Classic – a 19.59kg mulloway.
Ray Maher, of Modanville, caught one of the bigger fish at the Evans Head Fishing Classic – a 19.59kg mulloway. Jay Cronan

Ray catches a break

RAY Maher was being ribbed by his mates on Saturday for having a case of “beginner's luck” after he reeled in one of the largest catches at the 16th Annual Evans Head Fishing Classic – a 19.59kg mulloway.

“I only ever go fishing a couple of times a year,” the Modanville builder laughed.

“But I love it. It's relaxing and I got to catch up with friends here at Evans.”

The amateur fisherman caught his fish at Chaos Reef, south-east of Evans Head, after setting off at 5.30am in a friend's Shark-cat, joining about 800 entrants in the annual fishing classic which runs until July 15.

As well as Mr Maher's impressive mulloway, fishers were catching some of the largest whiting and dart in the event's 16-year history, said weight-master, compere and judge Barry Burgum.

Mr Burgum and his wife Lynette, from Maleny in Queensland, have worked at the fishing classic since its early days and said the catch rates and weights were consistent over the 16 years.

“People talk about rape and pillaging through over-fishing... but you can't devastate a species with a fishing line,” Mr Burgum said.

The fishing classic was a “credit” to the small town of Evans Head, Mr Burgum said.

“Many small towns are dying but this event brings in well over 1000 people to Evans Head,” he said.

Barry's wife, Lynette Burgum, said most people travelled to fishing classics for the social atmosphere.

“You also get your really keen fishermen out to beat their mates,” she said

Evans Head Fishing Classic vice-president Jim Bennett said the event was an “annual migration” for people from both northern NSW and south-east Queensland.

“We've got people coming who started fishing here when they were kids, now bringing their kids with them,” Mr Bennett said.

Finding the balance between recreation and conservation is an issue the event takes very seriously, Mr Bennett said, with catch, display and release an ongoing principle, fish bag limits halved three years ago and education forming a major part of the classic.



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