Every secret spot, creek and special hang around Cooktown was bristling with lines, lures and keen fishers as nearly 900 anglers vied for a brand-new boat in the annual Sovereign Resort Barramundi Competition over the weekend.
A record 881 entrants, including 317 kids, spread out from Cooktown on Friday (27 October) for two days of fishing fun, with the ultimate goal of hooking the mystery weight fish and taking home a boat, outboard and trailer.
Sovereign Resort Hotel assistant manager Greta Watson said the top prize was incredibly close, with multiple fish all tipping the scales at the 2.75 kg weight drawn by competition sponsor Russell Bowman.
“It was so close with nine entrants each weighing in a barra at 2.75 kg, and with the top three under 500g away from the winning weight, saying it was a close call is an understatement,” Ms Watson said.
But there can only be one winner, and Cooktown local Brooke Prior was the lucky angler who will be fishing in a brand new tinny from here on out, with a 2.75 kg barra and her second fish only 0.13 kg away from the mystery weight putting her in the top spot.
“I’m still in shock, I’m so excited,” Ms Prior said.
“We didn’t even know what the weight of our fish was, we heard what the mystery weight was, but didn’t know what ours weighed so had no idea until they called out my name!”
Ms Prior and partner Bart Harrison took the family fishing at Lakefield and said she had competed in every single Sovereign barra event.
“We’re going to keep the boat, 100 per cent, we’re going to take it on a girls’ trip, I’ve already got that planned.
“We’ve been in the barra comp since day dot, and as the kids have come along we take them too, they love it.
“The Sovereign team do the best job, we just love the barra comp and will be taking our new boat out next year to keep supporting it.”
Also weighing in barra at 2.75 kg, but with a second fish further from the mystery weight, or no second fish, were Timothy Hart-Yoren, Georgia Johnson, Marley Sharp, Justin Coventry, Ryan Nash, David Spadina, Coral Thompson and Richie Lonie.
Cortana Ross took out the kid’s barra section with a 2.65 kg fish, as well as the kid’s jack category with a 1.4 kg fish.
Other winners in the kid’s barra category were Liam Lee-Cheu, Halo McIvor, Devon’Jael Deemal, Tristan Lee-Cheu and Zackariah Yoren.
Taking home prizes in the kid’s jack section were Tex Sydenham, Mack Grayson, Mitchell Kaye and Stormi Kershaw, while Dave Kamholtz took out the adult jack category, joined on the podium by Ethan Hohn and Mark Chambers.
“What an unreal turnout it was this year, and a special thank you to all our sponsors, especially The Lure Shop Cooktown, XXXX and ALM,” Ms Watson said.
“But most of all a big thank you to everyone who turned up to fish, and a huge congratulations to our 2023 winner Brooke Prior!”