Visiting breamers Steve Morgan and Tristan Taylor took the top two spots at the first Tasmanian BREAM Qualifier sponsored by Spirit of Tasmania. And although Taylor sprinted to a 1.3kg lead after the first day, Morgan's consistency prevailed in a tournament where full limits were scarce.
Spending the entire event within the Georges Bay's 5 knot speed zone, Morgan (10/10, 6.24kg) concentrated on areas where he knew there were smaller, more catchable fish.
"I've fished every ABT at St Helens and have learned that for me, the fish on the clear water flats are hard to catch consistently - there's the potential of 5kg bags, but a bigger chance of a donut," Morgan said
"So after not catching a legal bream in the practice, I reverted to the muddier waters of Medeas Cove. The first year I fished here my non-boater John Tetlow showed me the area and how to fish it, and I've been learning more and more about it ever since," said Morgan.
Morgan and both his co-anglers validated the decision by bringing in limits each day. He predominantly fished shallow diving Jackall Chubby Minnows in ayu and suji shrimp with a series of short, sharp twitches. On the second day, two fish also ate a Cranka 35mm Shallow Crank in glass ayu colour.
"But the main thing I've learned about fishing there is to fish slow, very slow. I fish slower in here than anywhere else in Australia. For instance, an 800 metre stretch of bank I only covered back and forth twice in six hours of fishing," Morgan said.
"And the fish at St Helens are getting smarter. I couldn't get bit on my favourite Presso Minnows, and my co-angler Mark Healey was getting regular bites on the 35mm Cranka, so downsizing was definitely a key to success," said Morgan.
He used a Gary Howard custom built Loomis S842 rod with a Daiwa Exist 1003 reel spooled with 3lb Yamatoyo Spinning Fluoro. Particularly memorable for Morgan was the final upgrade in the last minutes of the final session.
"The tide was low and there was a small, clear pocket in the weedbed, only 100m from the weigh-in tent. I chucked the Jackall in, twitched it a couple of times and a 34cm bream appeared behind it before sucking the lure down. It just shows that you should never give up!" he said.
Event runner-up Tristan Taylor followed a similar mindset, taking his day one lead, then grinding away on a tough day two to score another podium finish.
Day one was the stand-out for Taylor which saw him hitting a shallow sanding flat near the event start-line early in the session.
"There was a two foot deep sand strip that ran through the weedy flat so it was here that I focused on and caught my limit," said Tristan.
With his much loved ghost gill brown coloured Atomic Crank Mid 38 as his go-to lure Taylor used a draw-n-pause retrieve, moving the lure then stalling it to give any near by fish a chance to size up the lure and eat it.
To aid in the presentation Taylor added sticky weight to the belly of the lure and the reason was two fold.
"You can cast the lure a lot further with the weight on the belly and it also allows the lure to suspend on the pause. An important factor when chasing black bream," said Tristan.
Later in the session on day one and on day two Tristan changed location and hit the small bay at the back of St Helens.
Using an Atomic Crank he focused on the darker rock patches, targeting the fish that were holding tight to the structure. The retrieve was the same draw, pause, repeat, and the hits came as the lure sat motionless. While the technique produced the same number of fish as day one Taylor couldn't repeat the size, with a string of undersize fish coming to the boat.
The tackle he used to catch his fish included a Samurai Reaction 203 rod, Megabass Luvito 256 reel, spooled with 8lb Unitika PE and 4lb Aiger fluorocarbon leader.
For Mark Healy it was smiles all round at St Helens with the Lake Macquarie angler securing top honours in the non-boater division with his 7/10, 4.67kg bag. Fishing with Steve Morgan on day one Healey struck pay dirt, weighing in a 3.365kg full limit to jump to the lead and never be caught. Throwing a Cranka 35mm Shallow Crank in glass ayu colour, Healey used a retrieve that was spot on for the less than aggressive St Helens bite.
"It was more subtle than aggressive, wind the lure down until it hit the bottom then give it a small twitch then a pause," said Healey.
With the suspending lure hanging close to the bottom, the fish hit the lure as it sat still.
Day two was tougher with Healey making a slight changed to his approach to keep himself on the fish.
The water was a lot clearer on day two so he swapped to a more translucent coloured Cranka (olive prawn). The changed was spot on with Healey adding another two fish to his bag and consolidating his gap over the field.
The tackle he used included a G.Loomis TSR 862-2 rod, Daiwa Luvius 2000 reel, spooled with 2lb Berkley Fireline and 3lb Yamatoyo Spinning Fluro as leader.
With his win Healey secures himself a berth in the 2011 Daiwa BREAM Grand Final at Forster in November and a $1500 Daiwa rod/reel/line and clothing prize pack.
The Daiwa Big Bream Prize as expected didn't fail to impress with 2005 Gippsland Lakes Grand Final Champion Chris Wright securing the $500 prize with his 1.77kg fish.
Caught on a new Shimano Lure Project PJ Deep Crank 39F in purple ghost colour, Wright captured the fish on day two at Stockyard Flats with a slow roll and pause retrieve. Caught an hour before the end of the session, the fish was essentially a $1050 fish for Wright, with the St Helens blue nose bumping him up to 5th place ($550) and delivering him the Daiwa Big Bream Prize ($500).
For more information log on to www.bream.com.au. - ABT
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