The AFO Hinchinbrook Challenge is obviously based in the scenic Hinchinbrook region of far north Queensland, the area has lots to offer fly anglers with its vast shallow areas holding multiple fly target species and the protection from the towering peaks of Hinchinbrook Island itself, it’s the also the biggest mangrove forest in Australia.
The Challenge this year hit 20 years probably making it the longest running Saltwater fly comp in Australia with it still going strong in numbers and popularity for both local and visiting anglers. This year the comp had 22 teams with anglers right across the country, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide to name a few and a couple of them towed boats that distance as well.
The competition is called the “Challenge” because it’s a species comp, there are a list of species on the board and the more of those you catch the more bonus points you get, with extra bonuses for Permit and Golden Trevally. This can easily open the comp up a little, with the chance of finding just a few fish and if those fish are on the species list this could bump you up the scoreboard very quickly.
The nomination fees are very modest and sponsorship is tremendous from all over, competitors arrive to a grab bag containing the information booklet, rules, areas, scoring etc but also like a kid at the local fair, this year it contained a comp shirt from Aquasoul, an Airflo flyline each, several flies, a sun face mask, a custom bobbin threader and a few other little tricks. Major prizes included a Scott Meridian, Harfin fly reel, Airflo rod and lines, a couple of cool pieces of fishy art from Aussie artists, Tonic Eyewear sunnies, C&F fly box loaded with Manic Tackle flies, Headsox gear, Simms caps and Shirts and the list goes on.
The August weather was pretty kind for the comp and plenty of folks found themselves amongst the fish, the was some great captures, one only Permit (with all the usual hard luck stories), several Golden, Barramundi, some good size Queenfish, plenty of little Trevally and Tarpon and all fish had to be a size to score so lots of little guys that didn’t quite make the scoreboard.
Al Simson and Dave Bradley won Champion team with Dan Collins taking out Champion angler with his nice Permit pushing him ahead. Manic mates Rod Collings and Troy Burbidge did well after being Champion team last year, AFO guide Jon (Snelly) Snell chipping at the heals and great to see some new guys Trent Butler and Bob Bently scoring well also.
Overall the general vibe of the weekend is super social and great fun, just like minded folks getting together, catching a few fish and sharing a few stories, maybe even a drink.
We’ll do it all again August 2018.