Geoff Hawkins Meritorious Capture Awards

To commemorate a lifetime contribution of service to ANSA by the late Geoff “Hawko” Hawkins (Life Member ANSA National and ANSA NSW Branch) the Board of ANSA and State Branch Delegates attending the 2016 AGM and Branch Delegates meeting, unanimously agreed to dedicate  these prestigious awards to the memory of Geoff. The awards hereinafter will be referred to as the “Geoff Hawkins Memorial – Meritorious Capture Awards”.

ANSA conducts an annual Geoff Hawkins Memorial – Meritorious Capture award competition. This prestigious competition runs from 1 July to 30 June every year and has 2 categories – freshwater and saltwater.

ANSA members are encouraged to nominate for these prestigious awards . The fish does not need to be a record capture but as the name implies there must be an meritorious aspect about how the capture was made. The awards are decided by the ANSA Board in conjunction with Branch Delegates attending the ANSA Annual General Meeting and Delegates conference. Meritorious Capture Award nomination forms are available on the ANSA website.

2022/23.The Meritorious Capture Award winners for 2022/23 were Nelson Philips and Don Patterson both from Bundaberg Sport Fishing Club. Nelson received the Freshwater Meritorious Capture award for  his capture of a 550mm Australian Bass while fishing Lake Gregory on his kayak. Don received the Saltwater Meritorious Capture Award for his capture of a 1160mm Barramundi while fishing the Burnett River. Congratulations to both Nelson and Don on these meritorious captures. You can read Nelson and Don’s account of their captures here.

2021/22. There were no awards presented over 2021/22

2020/21. The Meritorious Capture Award winner was Dakota Colls from SA, aged 5, with her amazing recapture of a 44 cm Golden Callop which had been tagged and released by her slightly elder brother Rhys back in 2017. The runner up was Steve Incledon, also from SA, who after many years of trying finally achieved his ambition of lure casting the capture of  a Murray Cod.  You can read Dakota and Steve’s capture stories here.

“Caught on the cast”   

I took up River Murray fishing late in life, as I previously predominantly fished the saltwater. I had access to several private stocked dams through my membership of the South Australian Fresh Water Anglers Association. It was through my SAFWAA membership that I started targeting the club’s stocked Murray Cod and other natives including Golden and Silver Perch etc, as they are stocked on private property (dams) and you are allowed to lift them from the water. Over the years I became reasonably successful at catching the stocked Cod, with my best going 16.9 kg.

In 2016 I started going to the River Murray, to try and get a Cod on a lure. This proved much harder than I thought and required learning a new skill set but I eventually did catch one.

Over the next couple of years, I managed to get a few more Cod but they were all caught on the troll, although I had tried unsuccessfully casting for them.

In March 2021, I decided to put in a big session. I was going to cast until my arms fell off, and I found a nice snag that I had never fished before.

I put in around 20 casts and paused my lure every time it hit one of the numerous submerged branches. After 5 years and hundreds of hours of targeting Murray Cod in the River Murray, I finally hooked up to a “Cod on the Cast”.

I knew by the power of the strike that it was a Cod and a reasonably good one. I didn’t have too much trouble getting the Cod out of its underwater home/snag. The Cod woke up once I got it closer to my boat and made a couple of good lunges, towards its snaggy home. I knew if she made it back into the submerged snag that I would probably lose her. I was tempted to thumb the reel drag even tighter but I knew there was a likelihood of either pulling the hooks or breaking the line, so I resisted. By this time, I was shaking and my heart rate was through the roof, I was praying that I at least see her and better still land her. Two of the lunges were just near the surface but deep enough for me not to able to see the Cod but they made for big bow waves/splashes. Eventually I got her to the surface and managed to guide her into my landing net as I was fishing by myself. I took a couple of photos and removed the lure, then released her. Once I stopped shaking, I needed to share this with someone, so I texted a couple of mates, who either returned texted or phoned me and congratulated me, as they knew how much time and effort, I had put in. 

This made the early mornings and around 5,000 kms of travel over the years and probably a thousand plus dollars in a combine spend of lures, petrol, accommodation etc, well worthwhile.

To say I was “ecstatic” would be an understatement!

Steve Incledon

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