Saying goodbye to the “Waterhole Wal” Perpetual Trophy and the Bellingen Eel Fishing Championships

Wal Tyson holding the “Waterhole Wal” Perpetual Trophy, which will be housed at Diggers Tavern in Bellingen.


FOR the past 33 years, the kids of the Bellingen Shire and surrounds have enjoyed searching out local creeks and dams in search of the big one.

The Bellingen Eel Fishing Championships has been part of the valley for two generations with kids of the original kids trying to out-fish their parents.

“Waterhole Wal” Tyson was the Registrar for the Mid North Coast Division of the NSW Fishing Clubs Association and he knew there was no Australian Record for the local Long Finned.

So that first year, 1985, saw dozens of kids and their parents fishing along local banks all day everyday and sometimes at night trying to pull in a big one.

This catch and release competition was a real hit, with 8 year old Joe Moore of Urunga snagging the winning Eel and the very first Australian Record at 7.6kg.

He was the first recipient of the Waterhole Wal Perpetual Trophy as Eel Fishing Champion.

Over the years many local kids have fished their hearts out to try and get their hands on the prestigious Waterhole Wal Trophy.

There was plenty of encouragement along the way with plenty more “eel shaped” trophies on offer for the Biggest Eel each day of the week-long competition.

Plus, MO Tackle of Coffs Harbour provided prizes for the Liveliest Eel each day (an incentive to keep the Eels alive so they could be released back into the river after weigh-in).

The Australian Record was beaten a few more times over the years, however it was blown out of the water by Jai Tennant in 2009, with a monster Eel weighing 11.65kg.

That record still stands today.

All good things must come to an end and it’s with much sadness that Waterhole Wal says ‘adios’ to his young fishing mates and puts the competition to rest.

The Waterhole Wal Trophy will now be housed along with other memorabilia in the Foyer of Diggers Tavern in Bellingen and we’re sure those who fished in the competition will take great pride in sharing their memories with family and friends and read the names of all the Eel Fishing Champions on the Trophy.

There are also lots of photo albums with all the Eel Fishing photos (contact Wal if you’d like to see them).

Many thanks to Waterhole Wal for his tireless efforts in running the Eel Fishing Championships for those 33 years, thanks also to Bellingen Lions Club, Urunga Anglers Club who assisted financially, MO Tackle and local businesses for your kind donations and all those who assisted in any way to make this fun event for our kids such a huge success.

Waterhole Wal says ‘adios’ and best wishes.



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