The 2010 Blue Fin Boats Flathead Classic was an extremely windy and unforgiving event that saw anglers and teams struggle firstly to master the conditions and then, try to tempt a flathead to eat their lures.
Rising above the rest was the experienced crew on Team Hi Seas (Ross McCubbin/Brad Job/Ben Job) who spot hopped from the Gold Coast to the Pin to secure a hard fought and very well deserved win. And I can assure anyone reading this that even getting into the top 20 was a feat of endurance in itself as a blustery south east wind ripped through the tournament from the moment it started to the minute it finished, making every angler work very hard for their fish.
Other major winners included Team Hi Seas’ Ross McCubbin taking out Champion Senior Angler with an impressive 1829 points, Gold Coast Sportfishing Club president Christine Hunt taking out Champion Female Angler with 542 points and Jake Neilson from Team Whitewater Marine taking out Champion Junior Angler with a very impressive 782 points.
Some major statistics for the event showed that over the 2 1/2 day event, competitors in the 161 teams landed and measured an impressive 3417 flathead that were all released and the biggest flathead landed for the event was a massive girl of 91cm, which was caught by David Whyte from Whyte Boys Can’t Jig. And as befits the overall champion Ross McCubbin measured in 15.91m of flathead himself!
Held from September 30 to October 2, the 2010 Blue Fin Boats Flathead Classic was a pleasure to be involved with again. The tournament headquarters at the Gold Coast Fishing Club’s rooms in Southport was spaciously organised to include plenty of room for competitors to relax, eat and drink and for sponsors to display and sell their wares. The crew from Carlton Mid were there with their Carlton Mid truck, releasing several tagged flathead for their Rich Fi$h promotion where registered competitors had the chance to win $10,000 by catching one of the tagged flathead.
Briefing night on Wednesday saw all competitors gather to register and collect their impressive competitor kits with a competitor only Ruff n Tuff Flathead Classic fishing shirt included. Dinner was laid on and then it was into the serious stuff with a run through of rules, a talk from Fisheries about green zones and a visit from MSQ about the dangers of the weather that was about to smash into the tournament field. In fact it was iterated several times to be extra cautious as 30 knot winds from the south east were predicted on the first morning and many anglers left early to get a good night’s sleep and ponder their plans for the tournament given the wild conditions.
Our team decided to visit south facing banks to hopefully get some control over the wind and avoid a pointless pounding so areas such as Crusoe Island, Tiger Mullet Channel and other south facing banks would be our target.
As predicted Day 1 was windy and we were very wet by the time we had reached Crusoe Island at start fishing time of 6:30am. We weren’t the only ones trying to find shelter from the wind on Crusoe and we knew it would be a busy place for the entire event as the wind forecast was only marginally improving for the duration of the tournament. But we persisted and put together a few fish, the biggest going 63cm. We really only scored 10 fish all day and were behind the 8 ball from the start. Still there were plenty more teams who did it harder and by day one end we were happy that we had caught any fish at all.
Predictably, the top teams of Team Hi Seas, Galeforce Boats, BushnBeach and Team Sands were right up there at the end of the first day with all teams finding a way to get nearly 1000 points each, bringing gasps of amazement from most competitors who had struggled in the tough conditions.
Day 2 dawned and the wind had decreased to a more manageable 15-20 knots and plenty of teams were keen to try their luck in the ‘good’ conditions. We headed down to Cobby Cobby and worked lee banks again for a few fish, but up until lunch had few scoring fish to show for our efforts. Shayne McKee suggested a move and we trolled towards a series of shallow areas just west of Cabbage Tree Point. At worst we would be close to our launching ramp as the wind just refused to die down.
This trolling proved a surprising success and we came across a patch of very good fish in water that we would normally by-pass. 4 hours later and we had amassed 1000 points for the day and we were glowing with our own greatness (well actually we were thinking how blindly lucky we were!). Shayne had done most of the damage as flathead after flathead kept smashing his Lively Lures Micro Mullet in water that was only 4 feet deep. Shane Juttner and I kept catching fish all afternoon, but their size was disappointingly small and McKee rose up above us in a very impressive display of fishing.
Back at the tournament venue we were amazed and surprised to find that our team had climbed from somewhere in the mid-30’s up to competing with the Top 10 teams. And to top off a great day in harsh conditions, Shane Juttner won one of the nightly raffles, so even if he was our ball and chain on the scoreboard, he still went away with a swag of prizes.
Again the top three or four teams showed their class to outfish everyone and put a bigger break on the field and Team Hi Seas were cutting a swathe through the flathead population with some precision trolling and casting at carefully selected locations.
The last morning heralded another windy, but thankfully short day that saw the tournament hours drop from 6:30am through to 4pm down to 6:30am till 12 noon. Most competitors were still fired up as the wind looked to be dropping out and at 6:30 on our chosen trolling track we had our first hint of sun and no wind. Shane Juttner and I got an undersized flathead each within 5 minutes of lines down and as the wind magically reappeared and the heavens opened up on us in a big way, Shayne McKee stepped up to the plate and started to show us just how to catch a flatty on the troll.
It was eerily scary watching McKee go to work and until that morning I had thought that with three trolled lures out the back, surely one angler could not catch all the fish, but he did! And it did not matter on lure colour either as Shayne used three different lure colours throughout the morning. And the lucky model was our favourite Lively Lures Micro Mullet with green, gold, brown and pinks all working.
With two hours left on the clock we threw caution to the wind and headed to the Pin to fish a bank that had wind on it all tournament. Our theory was that this bank would not have been fished because it was just too windy to comfortably fish. And on our first drift in 15 knot winds, McKee got into another good flathead and even Shane Juttner and I managed to get a few late fish. It was a vital 300-odd points in the last two hours that jumped us from nowhere up to 5th place overall. But the best part for our team was seeing Shane McKee leap frog lots of talented anglers to finish as Runner-up Champion Angler to Ross McCubbin. And for those in the know on the Flathead Classic, to get close to Ross is as good as it gets as he is a flathead dynamo!
In the wash up the weather really did impact on where and how competitors fished. It certainly altered our plans. Plenty of fish were still landed and the event went off without a hitch again, which is a great credit to the organisers and the Gold Coast Sportfishing Club.
The full results can be found on the Gold Coast Sportfishing Club’s website so log in and check it out. Better yet, plan to fish next year as the entire event is well run, an awesome experience and a great opportunity to get on the water and catch a few flathead.
Winners are Grinners
Ross McCubbin is no stranger to victory at the Flathead Classic and when teamed up with Ben and Brad Job, they make an awesome team of talented anglers, the year representing Team Hi-Seas.
This year, with the weather and fish being so extraordinary, we took the time to have a chat to Ross and find out what he did differently to maintain his stunning form in this event.
“Given the windy forecast we sat down as a team and planned on fishing areas that would not be so hammered by the wind,” said Ross.
“We knew that banks such as Crusoe would get hammered by angler traffic and that the good deepwater found along Kalinga Bank and out the front of Swan Bay would be next to impossible to fish, so out came the map and we planned a milk run of spots.
“On day one we fished a deep bank near Cobby Cobby Passage with DOA soft plastic jerkbaits and nailed some good fish. After a couple of hours the fish dried up, so we went shallow looking for more fish. This change of tactic saw us bring out the trolling lures and rods and start to comb some banks with Lively Lures Micro Mullets.
“Day one was really successful on the troll for us and set a pattern for the rest of the event.
“Day two saw us again hit the deep water early, but the fish were not there so we went back to trolling with a little bit of casting here and there. In one spectacular hour we landed a heap of flathead from about 65cm up to 75cm and this set up our day.
“On the final day we slowed a bit, but still scored enough fish to take out the event as a team and that is what was important to us,” finished Ross.
Ross said the lessons learnt included the need to be versatile in your approach and have a number of spots available to you for the varying conditions the Flathead Classic invariably throws at you. He believes many anglers are too interested in casting plastics or jigging deep water and forget about trolling or casting the shallows.
Finally Ross said that to be successful over a long period you need to master all the options. Be a good deep water angler, know how to cast lures in the shallows and remember your trolling runs. And with the runs on the board, who can argue with Ross’s theories on flathead fishing?
Champion 3-Angler Team:Team Hi Seas
Champion 2-Angler Team:Team Hinterland Tavern
Champion Angler Senior:1829 points Ross McCubbin - Team Hi Seas
Champion Female Angler:542 points Christine Hunt - TT Lures
Champion Angler Junior: 782 points Jake Neilsen - Team Whitewater Marine
Longest Flathead Senior:91cm David Whyte - Whyte Boys Can't Jig
Longest Flathead on Hard Body:87cm Murray Whitford - Popeyed Scarey Dogs
Longest Flathead on Soft Plastic:91cm David Whyte - Whyte Boys Can't Jig
Longest Bream:Kevin Clarke – 36cm Basswackers
Longest Estuary Cod:57cm Paul Flanders - Team Ol' Trout
Longest Mulloway:92cm Doug Burt - Dougie's Team Tackle World
Longest Trevally:52cm Shannon Glover - Ah Well
Longest Whiting:41cm Jared McKean - Dusky Tigers
Longest Tailor:46cm Allan Davies - The Marlin Hunter's Health Retreat
Most Metres Senior:15.91m Ross McCubbin - Team Hi Seas
Top 20 Teams
|1||Team Hi Seas||3506|
|2||Bush n Beach Fishing||2790|
|3||Team On Strike||2712|
|5||Queensland Fishing Monthly||2429|
|7||Team Whitewater Marine||2048|
|8||Whyte Boys Can't Jig||1981|
|9||Get Jiggy With It||1947|
|10||Sons of Guns||1866|
|11||Popeyed Scarey Dogs||1840|
|13||Team Hinterland Tavern||1793|
|14||Dead Fishy 2||1775|
|17||Team Blue Fin Boats||1675|
|18||TT Lures No2 - Tough TT's||1666|
|20||Austackle Anglers Connection||1577|
Individual Senior Results
|23||844||Tony Le Masurier|
|156||255||Mark St Ledger|
|168||238||Jonathan Van Look|
|194||193||John McGrath - Salty|
Individual Junior Results
Three Person Team Results
Team PointsMetresNo. Caught
|Team Hi Seas||3506||34.47||78|
|Team On Strike||2712||26.40||60|
|Queensland Fishing Monthly||2429||26.32||61|
|Team Whitewater Marine||2048||17.75||39|
|Whyte Boys Can't Jig||1981||12.54||23|
|Get Jiggy With It||1947||22.70||58|
|Sons of Guns||1866||17.00||40|
|Popeyed Scarey Dogs||1840||23.79||60|
|Dead Fishy 2||1775||19.03||45|
|Team Blue Fin Boats||1675||35.12||103|
|Team Live Vision||1486||21.70||59|
|The Marlin Hunter's Health Retreat||1248||16.13||41|
|Bias Boating Warehouse||929||8.69||20|
|Grumpy Old Men||899||7.93||17|
|Dougie's Team Tackle World||737||11.24||27|
|Team Flat Chance||728||7.65||18|
|Team King Green Keys||550||4.95||11|
|Team Beer and Bullshit||476||13.37||36|
|Keep It Cool||474||10.15||29|
|Beauty and the Beasts||473||6.85||21|
|Team Water Scorpion||397||5.04||13|
|Advanced Fish Nutrition||359||8.49||23|
|Team Tight Lines||356||9.96||27|
|Team Virtual House||318||2.06||4|
|The Enemy and the Handbrake||234||5.10||14|
|The Lizard Wizards||227||2.39||6|
|Team Nover Hettich||143||1.01||2|
Two Person Team Results
|Team Hinterland Tavern||1793||19.66||50|
|TT Lures No 2 – Tough TT's||1666||13.79||32|
|Austackle Anglers Connection||1577||28.00||73|
|Dyslexic Luckhead Flatwits||1481||16.89||41|
|Team What the?||1421||11.09||23|
|Team Next Year||1255||9.39||19|
|Anglers Connection Team Outlaw||1163||25.68||74|
|Team McCready's Deceivers||1159||10.06||22|
|Bork & Budgie||1036||18.77||51|
|The Lizard Ticklers||787||5.47||11|
|That Dam Team||675||4.56||9|
|Dawn 'Til Dusky||667||4.32||8|
|Team Currumbin Marine||666||13.04||33|
|Team Ol' Trout||557||6.52||16|
|Team Burley Boy||524||7.44||19|
|City Towbars Fishing Team||521||5.93||14|
|Sebile Lures River 2 Sea||454||8.07||21|
|Flick and Jerk||410||3.85||9|
|The Flick Wits||364||4.17||11|
|Team Nover Clark||290||2.41||5|
|Boys From the Bush||271||6.75||19|
|Crack A Flat||252||1.64||3|
|M & Ms||241||3.18||8|
|Team Ocean Star||187||1.69||4|
|The Cod Squad||147||1.29||3|
|Dodgy and Tangles||147||1.63||4|
|Flat Out Fishin||88||0.56||1|
|Two Shags on a Rock||52||0.44||1|
|Team Attack Boats||35||2.61||7|