Hooked on Tim the Bream
Recreational fishing has always been a popular activity in Yamba. In 1958 the town’s reputation was significantly boosted by the inauguration of Tim the Bream, the first Ampol National Fishing contest conducted by the Grafton District Angler’s Club. Over £20,000 was offered in prize money. Fifty tagged fish were released and each signifying a prize. Other prizes for size or number of fish caught and for a casting competition were also won.
Tim, worth£7,500 once releasedwas never seen again. However the contest created an enormous interest and was a huge success, bringing a large influx of enthusiastic anglers, their families and plenty of spectators to Yamba. Cars were double parked on each side of Wooli Street and Yamba Road; illegal tents mushroomed on any piece of vacant land while some hardy competitors slept in their cars or on the beach. Anglers claimed spots on the riverfront and beaches; eager to hook Tim or another prized tagged fish.
Rods and anglers stood shoulder to shoulder, sprouting rods with lines inevitably tangled and tempers frayed during the competition for “mum and the kids”, held in the quarry rock pool that had been stocked with hundreds of fish.
Jack Davey, a popular radio and TV personality, acted as compere for all the entertainment which included pipe bands, a community concert, children’s treasure hunt and sand modelling competition, gymnastic display, mannequin parades, fireworks and a fairground on Flinders Park, all culminating in a grand parade and prize-giving ceremony.
After the daily weigh-ins all unwanted fish was auctioned off but only one tagged fish was actually caught, earning that angler £25, two cases of beer, a case of champagne and a free flight to Coolangatta. Others won awards totalling up to £600. A local angler, John Garven, won the casting competition as well as the prize for the most fish caught in Rock and Beach.
The event revealed Yamba to be an angler’s paradise with many types of fish caught. It also attracted people from all over Australia and beyond and significantly boosted the local economy at the time.
The Yamba Museum offers photos sure to appeal to anglers visiting the Yamba Rotary Club’s 2017 Tim the Bream competition, and is well worth a visit.
A video of the 1958 competition can also be viewed at: https://www.qt.com.au/videos/tim-bream-1958/37666/