KRIS Banks says more people are starting to show an interest in fishing simply because it's the unknown aspect that lures them in - pun intended.
Up to 100 keen anglers are expected to wet a line from wherever they can - be that on the shore, in a kayak, a tinny, a tournament boat, or on our famous breakwall - when the Port Macquarie Flathead Open commences on Saturday.
More than 350 people have expressed an interest in the competition, whether as a competitor or just as a spectator.
When the competitors feel that tug on their lines, they know they are up against a 780 millimetre haul if they are to beat the flathead caught by angler Brett Lee on September 26.
"It's all about the chase ... it's the unknown," Banks said when asked about why fishing was experiencing such growth in popularity.
"You just don't know whether you're going to catch a five centimetre flathead, or a metre-long flathead."
With the hugely popular annual Golden Lure competition in January as the only local fishing competition currently, Banks said the Flathead Open provided an opportunity for recreational anglers to compete under tournament conditions.
"There isn't much in the way of fishing tournaments where your average Joe can go and fish," he said.
"You can turn up and fish off the bank, you can fish out of a kayak, you can fish in your tinny, or you can fish in your tournament boat.
"Anybody can compete, whether it be a five-year-old that loves going out with mum and dad or an avid angler that goes out and does tournament fishing - it's right across the board."
The "catch-photo-release" format of the competition ensures there are no long-lasting effects on the river system.
"We use an app called FishDonkey that takes all photos and measurements of the fish automatically so the fish can be released straight away after they're caught," Banks said.
"It's a lot healthier for the fish and for the river system, especially if you have 100 anglers out there all catching flathead.
"You don't want them reeling them in and bringing them home."
The first line will be thrown in at 5.30am on Saturday, and the final hooks will be reeled in and stowed at noon at Westport Boat Ramp.
"It's preferable people register on FishDonkey.
"There is an entry fee of $20, which includes a brag mat for the day to take a photo of all your fish on," Banks said with confidence everyone will hook some tenacious flatties on the weekend.
Alternatively, search Facebook for East Coast Sport Fishing and follow the links.
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