THERE are few competitions that take place at Lady Julia Percy Island — but the Shipwreck Coast Fishing Classic is one of them.
Less than a week into the annual competition more than 500 entrants have already signed up — easily beating last year’s number.
“We’re getting around 40 new entries a day,” Warrnambool Offshore and Light Game Fishing Club member and organiser Ben Pohlner said.
“This year is the coming of age for the competition,” Mr Pohlner said.
“It’s been around a long time but it’s only been this year that it’s generating momentum.
Mr Pohlner said there was a simple explanation for the popularity: “Bigger prizes.”
Organisers have set aside $63,805 in catch rewards this year.
Those taking their boats to sea are searching the far-flung corners of the coast including the ocean shelf and Lady Julia Percy Island.
“There’s a lot of people going out a long way. We covered 200km in one day to look for tuna.
“Overall we’ve had 210 fish weighed. It gets frantic during the weigh-in times.”
That includes several sizable Mako sharks.
The club also is trying to focus more on respecting the environment.
On Saturday’s weigh-in there will be a stall on sustainable fishing and next year organisers will accept photos allowing competitors to release their catch.
“It’s about making sure people who are using the marine environment are looking after the marine environment,” Mr Pohlner said. Organisers are also hoping to raise several thousand dollars for Peter’s Project through entry fees.
About a thousand people are expected at Saturday’s weigh-in next to the Pavilion Café at 7pm and Monday’s weigh-in at 11.30am with presentations following at 3pm.