The GFA of PNG National Game Fishing Titles were first fished in Rabaul in 1976, hosted by the New Britain Game Fishing Club. In that tournament, the most successful team was Marty Nagel and Rod Ellison of the Bouganville Sport and Game Fishing Club. The highest point scoring lady angler was Kay Groves of the Lae GFC, and the Independence Shield was won by the Bouganville S&GFC.
The tournament has been held continuously since then, in a rotation between New Britain, Bouganville, Lae, Madang and Port Moresby. Bouganville has unfortunately dropped out, and New Britain went into recess as they recovered from the volcano in 1994 – they recommenced with the Millenium Titles in 2000.
The Titles have evolved into the largest annual sporting event in PNG with between 250 and 450 anglers depending upon venue and a budget usually exceeding half a million Kina, thanks to huge support from it’s many sponsors.
The focus of the Titles is on team fishing, and is split into tackle classes to encourage all styles of game fishing. It has more recently introduced an entirely separate tag and release section which mirrors the capture section trophy categories to encourage conservation of all species.
The format is for a team to fish any two days out of the nine that the Titles are held over which allows the limited number of appropriate boats in PNG to fish several teams. This has proved to be a most successful arrangement, although tiring for the skipper and crew!
Whilst there are occasionally cash prizes for a specific target (e.g. a new National Record marlin), the Titles are not regarded as a money tournament – the big buzz is to be the National Champion for that year and take home a nice trophy for the mantelpiece.
The Titles are always held over the week before Easter, over Easter and conclude with a crying towel session on Easter Monday.