HomeNewsLocals take on fishing challenge for mental health

Locals take on fishing challenge for mental health

RAOTY Challenge
The Bayer Big Fish Challenge is a year-long event to raise money to support the AgSpirit retreat facilitated by The Fly Program.

Bundaberg team Lindsay Australia have taken out the state prize in the Bayer Big Fish Challenge – raising $1035 for men's mental health in the unique fishing competition.

Geoff Schackow from team Lindsay Australia attended the winner’s weekend at Lake Currawong in Tasmania recently, competing against other state champions for the Rural Angler of the Year title.  

It's a competition the local fisherman said he had been involved in for the past few years and it wasn't just for the fun of fishing.

“The Bayer Big Fish Challenge was started three years ago by life science company Bayer to raise awareness around men’s mental health in the farming community of Australia,” Geoff said.

“Bayer donates all funds raised to The Fly Program run by Mark and Amelia Tripet.”

“The Fly Program is a great program that allows men to come together and express their trials and tribulations to others.”

Bayer Big Fish Challenge concept

Each year individuals and teams that are registered for the challenge upload the fish they catch through the Bayer Big Fish Challenge app.

Bayer contributes one dollar per centimetre of the largest fish per type caught by each team or individual to the Bayer AgSpirit Fund.

The funds are then used by The Fly Program to facilitate a number of fully funded wellbeing programs, called AgSpirit retreats, to help rural Australian men in need of reprieve.

Bayer Big Fish Challenge
Geoff Schackow catching a fabulous salmon and a shovel nosed skate, which resulted in an Instant Win during the Bayer Big Fish Challenge. Photo: AgSpirit Big Fish Facebook

The year-long competition then culminates at Currowong Lakes, Tasmania where the finalists meet to battle it out for the Rural Angler of the Year title.

Geoff was one of the participants from Bundaberg who had the opportunity to take on the big fish in the finals.

The Wide Bay Regional Manager of agricultural company Lindsay Rural said the business had entered multiple teams in the competition this year.

“Lindsay Rural runs two, six person teams at this present time in the challenge,” he said.

“Over the past two years we have won the state competition which enables us to send two of our team members to Tasmania to fish off for the Best Angler of the Year.

“The weekend is about new experiences for many who attend and learning to fish using fly rods was a real challenge in itself.”

While Geoff said his team managed to take out the top fundraiser title in the competition, his effort in the Rural Angler of the Year section was a different story.

“Many brown trout and rainbow trout were caught over the weekend, unfortunately I did not fare so well in this regard,” he said.

“I landed fish but lost them- I guess that's fishing for you!”

Geoff said casting a line out while being surrounded by beautiful scenery, in a serene setting and enjoying the moment with new friends was all part of the mission behind the Bayer Big Fish Challenge.

“I found the most rewarding thing about the weekend of fly fishing was the tranquillity of being out on the lakes,” Geoff said.

“I also welcome the banter that comes from the new friends this experience allowed me to find.

“It’s amazing how 20 individuals can come together and openly talk about what work and life experiences are happening to them and how some of what others are going through is essentially similar to your own issues.”

Bayer Big Fish
A fantastic weekend in Tasmania for the group of state winners striving to win the title of Rural Angler of the Year. Mark Wilkins from team Tumby Bayers in SA deservedly took out the title. Photo: AgSpirit Big Fish Facebook

Bayer Big Fish Challenge raises funds for mental health

Bayer National Account Manager Ben Thompson thanked the teams who had participated in the year-long challenge for their commitment to the cause.

He said together, a total of 374 participants had raised $21,714 to support men's mental wellbeing programs.

“Now in its third consecutive year, The Bayer Big Fish Challenge has had strong support from rural communities across Australia,” Ben said.

“What’s fantastic is that both men and women are involved, often with their kids, all building awareness of mental health and learning that it’s okay to ask for help.”

The state winners Challenge Weekend included an introduction to men’s mental health with tasks and talks from Matt Tripet, founder of the Mental Health Charity The Fly Program.

Ben said it could be difficult for rural men to take a break from the challenges of farming.

“We hope the challenge continues to offer a way for men to look out for one another, while also enjoying the outdoors and fishing of which so many love,“ he said.

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