HMAS Albatross' Liam Carruthers has well and truly established himself as Australian fishing royalty, after recently securing his third national title.
After winning the 2017 and 2018 Australian Fishing Championship alongside Team BCF angler Dean Sylvestor, the Tomerong resident recently went for his third straight title.
"Due to unfortunate circumstances Dean was unable to fish, however Australian Fishing Championships Series XVI rookie angler Mark Healey stepped up and joined me on Team BCF," Carruthers said.
But the 32-year-old didn't let that stand in his way of a third straight crown.
"Preparations for the 2019 event didn't differ all too much from previous years," said Carruthers, whose success with the rod all started back in 2015 when he took out the Australian Bream grand final held at Yamba.
"I participated in as many local and Australia-wide bream tournaments.
"I did, however, broaden my skill set by entering a few freshwater tournaments chasing Australian bass, which was met with varied success."
The 2019 edition of Australia's highest competitive two-event tournament was held at Mackay's Eungella Dam and Kincheant Dam.
Event one is held at Eungella where both teams are competing in a four-hour format to catch their four longest bag length of sooty grunter.
The final round is held at Kincheant Dam where the teams transition from the finesse fishing to attempting to catch their four longest iconic species, the Australian barramundi.
"This tournament provides a neutral arena for Australia's top bream anglers to go head to head against Australia's top bass anglers," the petty officer qualified aircrewman instructor at 725 SQN said.
"As Dean was unable this year, it placed a heavy responsibility on me to lead Mark, who had never been to the Mackay region or chased either species of fish before."
To lift the title, the duo would have to overcome Team Jack Links anglers Mitchell Cone and Matthew Langford.
"After the results of round one were revealed, Mark and I had received good old fashioned flogging," Carruthers, who admitted it wasn't easy swinging for 100 per cent on the final day of the tournament, said.
"But all was not lost.
"To ultimately retain the title for Team BCF and for Mark to hold that iconic trophy for the first time, we had to achieve the longest bag of barramundi over four fish and catch the longest barramundi to secure the bonus point and maximum points for the round.
"It was a traditionally hot day on the dam and both teams gave everything they had during the gruelling session.
"Both teams had no idea who was going to take the title leading into the reveal of the results, as both teams boated four fish each."
The weigh-in revealed Team Jack Links four fish went a cumulative total of 292cm, while Team BCF's four fish went 333cm.
"Ultimately the series scores were tied and the deciding factor to crown the championship team came down to who caught the longest barramundi," Carruthers, who raised more than $9000 for bushfire victims in February, said.
Thankfully for Carruthers and Healey, their barramundi was four centimetres (88cm) longer than their opponents, securing them the title.
"Winning was a feeling of pure elation and relief," he said.
"It is easily one of my proudest achievements to date.
"To achieve it with the rookie was also amazing - Mark fished strongly and took any advice I could give him in his stride.
"There was quite a heavy emphasis on my limited knowledge of the area and I had to rely on the skills I had learned in previous years.
"I certainly felt the odds were against us in this series fishing against two gun anglers who had some experience in that part of Australia.
"The feeling of reward for this title was immense, and to win it with a good mate also was the icing on the cake."
As proud as the three-time champion he is, he knows none of it would have been possible if not from the help of his colleagues.
"I credit this title to amazing generosity and kindness of the South Coast fishing fraternity," he said.
"I only started competing in these tournaments 10 years ago and if not for the constant mentorship from predominant local tournament fisherman, there is simply no way I would even be close to having the success I have encountered."
Carruthers will now concentrate on honing his skills at local tournament before returning to Queensland in 2021, where he will attempt to lift the trophy for the fourth consecutive occasion.