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13 January 2021
By SARAH MATTHEWS
Organisers of Horsham’s long-running Labour Day weekend fishing competition are working on a new-look format for the popular event, which will go ahead in 2021 despite uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 The Weekly Advertiser Horsham Fishing Competition was one of the last major community events celebrated in the region before governments introduced bans, lockdowns and other measures to help curb the pandemic’s spread.
Incoming competition president Ray Howard said the organising committee was in the process of establishing guidelines for the 2021 event on March 7.
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He paid tribute to the event’s supporters, who gave committee members the drive and energy to bring this year’s event to fruition despite many obstacles.
“The fishing competition is a very important event for Horsham, bringing in thousands of dollars each year,” he said.
“It is always a fantastic weekend and something the whole family can participate in.
“We won’t be able to have the tiddlers section this year, just juniors and seniors, but it’s still something the whole family can do.
“We will be having the same camping and fishing areas and there is always a great atmosphere.”
Mr Howard encouraged Wimmera, Mallee and Grampians residents to consider signing up for this year’s 44th annual contest, particularly given restrictions on interstate and international travel.
“It’s a great day out and it’s close to home,” he said.
“We are in the process of putting together all the details to make sure we comply with restrictions and are offering a COVID-safe environment.
“There will be several changes to make it COVID-safe and also manageable for our small committee of volunteers.
“Considering a lot of other events won’t be going ahead – such as the Wimmera Machinery Field Days – people might be keen to get out and about and we encourage them to consider a day of fishing by the Wimmera River.”
Last year’s competition attracted more than 1300 entrants, but this year’s event will be capped at 1000 in line with COVID restrictions.
Registrations will only be sold online, although entries will be accepted in person on the day if spots are still available.
Mr Howard said the competition would be reformatted and there would not be a stake pick-up.
Fishing will start half an hour earlier, at 7am, to allow for pre-dawn catches and fish will be registered according to length rather than weight.
Mr Howard said there would also be major changes to the prize list, based on fewer registrations and many regional businesses still struggling on the back of two lockdown periods.
“We’re making a lot of changes to make sure we can still run the competition, but we are having to downgrade our prizes this year just in case we can’t go ahead,” he said.
“We usually outlay a lot of money on prizes ahead of the event and we can’t afford to do that this year.
“Unfortunately, we won’t be giving away a car, but that doesn’t mean we won’t have some great prizes.
“Prizes this year will be more of a draw, like a lot of other competitions are doing. All entries will be eligible for 50 percent of the prize draws, whereas those who catch a fish will be eligible for all of the prize draws.
“A lot of people have been coming to our competition for years without catching a fish.
“This year, people can still win a prize even if they don’t catch a fish.
“The major prize – which we will announce in the week leading up to the competition – will be a draw of all entrants. I think that will be a huge drawcard.”
Mr Howard said there would be prizes for the longest fish of each type – yellowbelly, redfin, silver perch and catfish – in junior and senior divisions.
“We are still in the process of working through our sponsorship details and are currently seeking sponsors, if anyone is keen to get on board and support the event,” he said.
ACE Radio general manager Brendan O’Loughlin said the organisation was proud to continue its long-running sponsorship of the event under The Weekly Advertiser banner.
“As an ongoing major sponsor, we are grateful to the committee for doing this on behalf of the community and helping ensure Horsham gets back into the events style of life,” he said.
“We encourage everyone in the community to support this great local event and take the opportunity to invite their friends along to see what the region has to offer.”
Mr Howard encouraged people to visit website horshamfishingcomp.com.au, follow ‘Horsham Fishing Competition Inc.’ on Facebook or read The Weekly Advertiser for updated information.
The entire January 13, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!