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Successful Hobie Fishing Worlds 8 tournament uncovered

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From left: Australians Jack Gammie, winner Andrew Death, and Simon Morley who made the top three in the Hobie Worlds 8.
↑ Competitors jostle for position on the opening day of the Hobie Worlds 8, which was fished off Australia's Gold Coast.

Andrew Death was crowned the 2019 Hobie® Fishing World Champion following the tournament on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Death, from New South Wales, Australia, was the seventh angler to claim the world title following Scott Baker (Australia, 2011), Marty Mood (USA 2012), Richard Somerton (Australia, 2013), Steve Lessard (USA 2014 and 2016), Xiaohong Ma (China, 2015) and Salah el Barbouchi (Germany 2018). Here, Hobie reports on a hugely successful seventh tournament. 

Hobie Fishing Worlds 8, presented by Daiwa, included a field of 43 qualifying anglers who had travelled to compete from 16 countries. Most international anglers had not previously fished for the target species, Yellowfin Bream, but all competitors were given two pre-fishing days to acclimatise themselves to the arena and to the species. All had researched bream, the techniques, the lures and tackle that were required to bring home the three fish they aimed for each day.

The World Championship was a catch, weigh and release tournament. Anglers brought their fish back in Hobie V2 Livewells during each of the three days of competition for a live weigh-in at the event site. The fish were placed on scales, their weights recorded, and then the fish were released to swim away. 

Anglers competed in identical Hobie Pro Angler 14 kayaks, which were provided brand new and decked out by the Hobie Asia Pacific factory located a lure’s throw from the waters of Jervis Bay in New South Wales. 

All kayaks were equipped with a MirageDrive® 180 (forward and reverse) pedal system, Lowrance Hook2 7-inch Triple Shot sounders, Power-Pole Micro anchors and Hobie V2 Livewells to recirculate water and keep the fish healthy.

The fishing arena basked in amazing weather throughout the World Championship, with mid-winter maximum temperatures ranging from 22° to 26° C.  Light breezes persisted daily and there was no rain in sight. Never in eight championships had a Hobie Worlds seen such perfect conditions.

After registration and the mandatory briefing, competitors and their guests partied on, cruising the canals around the affluent mansions that line one of the world’s largest man-made canal systems.

The next morning, 43 excited anglers pedaled off from the Power-Pole Starting Line on Lowrance Pre-Fish Day One. It was the first chance for many international anglers to fish in Australian waters. Some, however, had arrived earlier and had already adjusted to the target species by doing some fishing in other areas where a pre-fish ban was not imposed.

To the delight of competitors across the arena, there were plenty of bream about and anglers from all continents were catching them. Many anglers with no bream experience were excited by the initial thrills of catching these fish on light tackle. The first angler to land a fish on the initial day of pre-fishing was Joe Komyati (USA). As he held a nice 35cm Yellowfin Bream in his hands he said: “It’s my first bream ever. I watched some videos the Australian Hobie guys put up, I used what they told me and it definitely worked.”

Power-Pole Pre-Fish Day Two saw a similar pattern, with anglers getting a taste of alternative locations. The Sundale Bridge pylons were hit hard by up to 15 international anglers, but they weren’t having a lot of success, as the timing was wrong and the tide was not well suited. Nevertheless, many persisted in the area – a mistake a few would repeat throughout the three days of competition.

The big story was at the line-up of trawlers closer to the event site, where prawns being washed off the decks were attracting hungry bream. Like a flock of seagulls, more than a quarter of the competitors headed straight there from the start. Despite being hit hard the day before, the location held up with some quick bites. 

Nate Gloria (USA) was onto his first bream in just a few casts. That first fish was in his Hobie Livewell just 20 minutes after the start and only five minutes after he had actually started fishing. 

Most competitors hitting the trawler fleet were sensible enough to leave the area after a half an hour or so, not wanting to sting the honey hole. But some persisted too long. Fortunately, they caught no fish, so the damage to the bite during the championship days was minimal.

Well before daylight on Wednesday, July 24, the vibe around the event site was one of excitement and anticipation as anglers prepared for the start of World Championship Day One presented by Daiwa. The sun rose and reflected off the high-rise buildings around the Gold Coast, as the world’s best kayak anglers massed for the official start. 

The Australian National Anthem was played as anglers respectfully stood in their Hobie PA14 kayaks. A countdown began and off the fleet blasted. Worlds 8 was on! 

The action at the start was fast and furious with a lot of barging and contact around the turning buoys. The intensity was well up from the two pre-fishing days and shouts echoed across the water as the field split evenly to the north and south. 

Once again, the trawler fleet was the early target for 12 or so anglers. Finn Sloth (Denmark) was among that group. As he did during both pre-fishing days, he became the first visiting international angler to land a Yellowfin Bream (31cm) about 20 minutes into the Championship. An Australian angler, however, had already bagged two.

Many of the international competitors who had never previously targeted bream did quite well, despite just two days of pre-fishing to learn to adapt to the new species and to the unfamiliar light tackle.

Seven anglers from outside Australia managed to get a full bag of three bream, while each Australian team member had a full bag. Seven unfortunate anglers – including several Chinese and Brazilian competitors – battled it out for the Lowrance Donut Award for catching no fish. 

Most of these seven had caught some bream, but they were under the legal competition length of 26cm. The first recipient of the dubious Donut Award was Patrice Gotti from France. He had caught plenty of fish, but they just didn’t measure up.

A number of large bream weighing over a kilo were caught on Day One, and these big fish were separated by a mere gram. The largest fish landed weighed in at 1.06kg and was caught by Felix Frey from Sweden. Frey, a pike specialist, was thrilled to receive the Day One Power-Pole Big Bream trophy, which was presented to him at the Hobie Kayak Europe Dinner that evening while the haunting, indigenous sounds of the didgeridoo reverberated around the room.

At the close of the Day One session, Jack Gammie (Australia) led the championship with 2.16kg, followed by Death with 2.08kg, and Edi Brader (Austria) with 1.99kg.  Five Australians – Tyson Hayes, Richard Somerton, Simon Morley and Kris Hickson – made up the next five places. Two USA anglers followed – Nate Gloria in eighth and Tyson Peterson in ninth – with Danish angler Finn Sloth (third in China in 2015) in 10th place.

Overall, 37 anglers brought a total of 84 fish back to the scales on Day One. Their accumulated weight was 44.35kg.

As the sun rose on Thursday morning, competitors once again took off in superb conditions for the second day of the World Championship. With late threatening winds predicted to blow from the south, the majority of anglers headed in a southerly direction; only a small group of nine or 10 pedaled to the north. Fortunately, the wind didn’t blow up as forecasted.

Like each day prior, a group of 10-plus anglers headed for the trawlers where two fish were quickly caught by Nate Gloria (USA) and Eric Seddiqi (USA), once again within 20 minutes of the start. The rest of the anglers there had little luck and most left within 15 to 20 minutes. 

The morning wasn’t far gone and a large slice of competitors had fish. Anglers who had struggled the day before, such as France’s Patrice Gotti, had more luck on day two, while four others – including Xiaohong Ma from China – felt the frustration of no fish.

At the end of the day, the Australians had posted another marquee performance. The Americans, however, showed a great ability to adapt to the new species and made up a quarter of the top 20. Nate Gloria flew the highest flag for the USA. He tied in sixth place with Richard Somerton (Australia). Gloria bagged 1.78kg on Day One and 1.77kg on Day Two, giving him a two-day total weight of 3.55kg.

Edi Brader from Austria, who sat in third position at the close of Day One, dropped back a place, but remained the top European. Brader had a Day Two bag of 1.59kg, giving him a total of 3.58kg. Finn Sloth (Denmark,), the next best European, was in 11th place followed by Felix Frey (Sweden) back in 19th. Lars Lundberg became the second Swede to catch the Power-Pole Big Bream, which weighed 910g.

The Chinese were having a difficult time adapting to the new species. Lai Wang, the nation’s highest placed competitor, was in 16th, while the remainder of the team sat among the bottom ten.

Rafael Renzetti led the Brazilians in 23rd with the rest of the team languishing close to the bottom. Tim Percy (Canada) received the Lowrance Donut Award to rousing cheers and hugs of jubilation at the Power-Pole dinner that evening. To the delight of all in the room, the idea of a police officer winning the Donut Award set off the USA team into raptures. It was a great moment. 

Once again, the class acts were the Australians with eight anglers in the top ten. Jack Gammie increased his lead from the previous day with another 2.02kg, giving him a leading bag total of 4.18kg. Andrew Death maintained his position in second place with1.86kg for 3.94kg overall, just 249g behind Gammie.

Simon Morley moved up into third place, knocking Austrian Edi Brader back a position. Morley added 1.97kg for a total of 3.79kg, only 150g behind Death and 399g short of Gammie.

The Day Two catch was 90 fish weighing a total of 44.02kg at an average of 489g, slightly down from day one. The field was tight at the top and anyone in the top 10 could take the championship if luck went their way. The final day of the Worlds was set to be intense and full of excitement.

When the action started the next morning, reports kept coming in that Death and Morley were going head-to-head on the same reef to the north of the event site. Their reels were screaming time after time, and each bagged out quickly. Then, on the turn of the tide, they both began to upgrade.

In the meantime, Edi Brader was one short of a bag. He was fishing well to the south under the skyscrapers around Surfers Paradise, where he had been quietly bagging out over the two previous days of competition. 

The leader on the first two days and the favorite to maintain his lead, Gammie, also went south, much further than Brader, and was hard to find among the canals along the Nerang River. Then a report came through late in the day that Gammie only had an average-size bag. Nobody had sighted Gloria from the USA or Somerton from Australia. The weigh-in was going to be insane.

Angler after angler walked up on stage to the scales and the lead changed continually. When Gloria got up, he hit the lead with a day-three bag weighing 1.77kg. The USA contingent went bananas. Gloria remained on stage at the top of the table with just three anglers to follow – Morley, then Death and finally Gammie. The Americans watching online and at the event site were hoping that an upset was underway.

Gloria was on 1.77kg for the day and sitting on a total of 5.32kg. Morley handed over his bag to the tournament director, who placed it on the scales. It registered 1.97kg for a total of 5.75 kg. Gloria was 430g short (almost a whole fish). Morley took the lead, but it was a brilliant performance by Gloria. Up stepped Death with his bag. He needed 1.81kg to take out Morley. The scales rolled over and stopped at 1.85kg, just 40g more than Morley. There was a new leader! Morley stepped off the stage and Death remained, hoping his 5.79kg was enough. He waited nervously while a tense Gammie was interviewed in front of the live audience and those watching the broadcast.

Gammie walked up the steps with a nervous smile and handed his bag to Tournament Director, Steve Fields. Fields played with Death’s and Gammie’s emotions for a few moments, building the intensity before Death called out humorously, “Just put it on!”. The audience erupted with laughter

Gammie only needed 1.62kg to win the World Championship. Andrew Death, who had sat in second on both of the previous days and was now the current leader, waited in anticipation. Gammie’s bag went on the scales, which read 1.43kg, just 150g short.

Death fist pumped the air and turned away in disbelief of his unforeseen fortune. The new 2019 Hobie Fishing World Champion was shocked. A disappointed Gammie dropped to a commendable third after a brilliant performance. Morley took a well-deserved second. Australia had its third 1-2-3 sweep in three World Championships held in the country. 

Richard Benson (Australia) caught the Power-Pole Big Bream for the day and Marco Pasquini (Italy) earned the Donut Award. Felix Frey won a Power-Pole Micro Anchor for the biggest fish of the championship. 

Overall, an incredible 265 bream were brought to the scales during the three days of the championship. They weighed a total of 133.32kg at an average weight of 500g. Every single one of them got to swim away to live another day.

Death (aka The Reaper) was crowned the new Hobie Fishing World Champion. What a performance by a humble winner, a true champion and  gentleman. 

Bring on Hobie Fishing Worlds 9. We can’t wait.

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