Going, going, gone!  A Ballina couple attempting to cross the bar at Evans Head are caught in the treacherous conditions as onshore winds and an outgoing tide bring them to grief on the South Wall.
Going, going, gone! A Ballina couple attempting to cross the bar at Evans Head are caught in the treacherous conditions as onshore winds and an outgoing tide bring them to grief on the South Wall. Dan Perrier

Big swell hits fishing classic

COMPETITORS in the annual Evans Head Fishing Classic were restricted to estuary fishing yesterday as a big swell continued to pound the bar crossing where two boats capsized on Tuesday.

Official weigh master Barry Burgum said that while officials couldn't stop anyone silly enough to attempt the crossing, any reef fish caught would not be counted towards the competition.

“If in our opinion it's too rough to go to sea and we still can't stop them, then we won't weight their catch,” he said.

Fishing Classic president Peter Leeson said the contest was looking good at the halfway mark of the week-long event.

“Well, it was until this swell turned up,” he said.

Mr Leeson said organisers were caught by surprise with Tuesday's big swell.

“It turned in just a couple of hours,” he said.

The four injured competitors were taken to hospital after their two boats were swamped, with all but one having been released by yesterday.

The Ballina couple washed into the South Wall returned to Evans Head yesterday to thank those who assisted them.

The man sustained head lacerations and his wife received two broken ribs.

Lismore fisherman Bruce Sheaffe remained in hospital for observation with suspected internal bleeding in one leg.

With 758 competitors vying for $50,000 in cash and prizes, competition is intensifying as the Friday finishapproaches.

Mr Burgum said while half of the competition species had to be brought in alive, about 80 per cent of the total catch was being returned alive.

“Over the last four days about 130 fish out of 150 are being returned to the water each day,” he said.

Meanwhile, with local fishermen reporting some boaters had not being crossing the river bar in a sensible manner, organisers have reminded competitors to approach it cautiously and avoid crossing at low tide.

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