The Batemans Bay Game Fishing Club was thrilled to announce last week that the annual Tollgate Islands Classic has been set for January 14 to 16, 2022.
Due to the recent COVID-19 lockdowns, the club was forced to call off its tuna fishing competition prematurely in August.
Until recently, the future of the BBGFC's competitions was in question as it was initially not clear when lockdowns would end and how long it would take for competition events to recommence.
But as NSW slowly makes its way back to regular life, club vice president, Doug Read, praised the state government and the broader NSW community for doing their bit to combat the coronavirus outbreaks.
"We were a bit nervous a month ago as to whether or not the competition could even happen," Read said.
"Kudos to everyone that's gone in and gotten vaccinated. Now that the NSW government has stepped up and wound back those restrictions, it gives organisations like ours the confidence to go ahead and not only put these events on but make them grow."
Having run since the club's founding in 1936, the Tollgate Islands Classic is the biggest and most prestigious event on the BBGFC calendar.
Read expects roughly 50 boats to take part, and said it's "not unusual" to have as many as 100 fish tagged in a competition.
Marlin are the primary variety reeled in during the TIC, and the competition is scored based on line class categories. For example, a marlin caught using 24kg line is worth as many as 10,000 points. The same fish caught using 37kg line, however, is worth 8,500 points as the heavier line makes it easier to catch.
Although fishermen are "a pretty honest bunch", Read said, the BBGFC will require proof from the competitors in the form of a date-stamped photo in order to deter dishonest behaviour during the competition.
There are several prizes up for grabs during the TIC in a variety of categories, including heaviest marlin, most marlin tagged and released, and a $4,000 cash shoot-out.
Fishermen during the competition can keep the marlin they catch, but Read said most will choose to tag and release, which is the method endorsed by the club.
"Very rarely do marlin fisherman take a fish, it's only on the very, very rare occasion that they do and it has to be an exceptional fish, because we encourage responsible angling," he said.
The BBGFC is also excited to have secured the support of a new major sponsor in Simrad Yachting, a global marine electronics brand founded in Norway in 1947.
"We're very excited about this year, because we've managed to get a new major sponsor on in Simrad," Read said.
"They've donated electronics worth in excess of $15,000, which is quite significant for this event. The committee's worked very hard to achieve that outcome ... and we look forward to a long-lasting relationship with them."
The club is still looking for sponsorship support for the Tollgate Islands Classic. If interested, please contact Doug Read on 0427 276 577.
More information about the competition itself can be found here.