The 2018 Hinchinbrook Challenge - The Debrief

By Dave Bradley 09/05/2018

AFO Hinchinbrook flyfishing challenge 2018 was the 21st year of the competition. The weather leading up to the tournament had 25 registered teams anticipating a great weekend ahead.

The event starts on Thursday night with a briefing, after a short rundown on the rules from Richard Stanhope,  the competitors are then handed their grab bags. These grab bags are loaded with gear from sponsors, to the tune of well over the $200 entry fee, the rules and scoring sheets and an element of hope. Then the bidding commences for the calcutta, backing yourself or your favourite team could grab you another couple hundred for the weekend. Certainly a tradition that has gone on and in good spirits from the start.

Fishing times are 7am to 5pm so it’s a big day and the main idea of the comp is to catch the 7 target species which every time you do so boosts your score well ahead of your rival teams. For example one Barramundi, one Trevally and one Queenfish, even if they are small gets you a lot more points than the guy that has just landed 5-6 of one species.

It’s not called the Challenge for no reason, you could stumble across some of these species in a small area but you might also need to put your thinking cap on and do a few miles to work it out. But remember,  it’s fishing so it doesn’t hurt to be a bit lucky.

The target species are Barramundi, Mangrove Jack, Estuary Cod, Trevally, Queenfish and Tarpon, a diverse range of species and a range of areas you might need to catch one. Golden Trevally and Permit are also on the list as bonus fish with 5-10 multiples in length as incentives, none were caught in the comp but Troy Burbidge nailed a Permit the day before. Approx 50-70 of each species were recorded with a couple down in the 20’s a little harder to come by, with 25 teams fishing IGFA rules and barbless hooks it’s not a bad flyfishing total. Averages of many of those were 40-50cms with the minimum scoring size at 30cm.

AFO guide Jon Snell and his partner Kim Strathern were the overall team winners, Jon also took out the Champion Angler. Overall everyone was a winner, a great weekend with a great bunch of people.

The Challenge is run by the NQ Flyfishers Inc, based in Townsville. Richard Stanhope leads the team there and the comp runs super smooth from start to finish, a big effort and great backing from the countries fly tackle and tiers industry.

Dates are already locked in for 2019, so if you think you have what it takes, get involved!