Hawkesbury delivers maiden win for Sczepaniak
  |  First Published: September 2011

Simon Sczepaniak (14/15, 9.66kg) secured his maiden ABT victory at the Shimano Hawkesbury River BREAM Super Series held from 10-12 June. Sczepaniak, a 38 year old Pool Technician and casual employee at Fish Outta Water, produced successive tournament bags over 3kg to take the win by 530g.

“Having competed in ABT events for a number of years as a non-boater, I made the decision to compete as a boater. I have put in the time practicing what I have learnt from my previous boaters and learning the intricacies of a waterway. To then progress to winning a Super Series against a class field of anglers is very satisfying,” said Sczepaniak.

“My goal was to concentrate fishing in Pittwater. I focused on fishing the western shore between McCarr’s Creek and Careel Bay. Having focused on learning and fishing the Pittwater area since my result in 2010, I was confident of where I could find the fish and how to catch them.

“The area I fished offered a variety of structure including pontoons, flats and deeper water. On day one I headed straight to my prefish location. A bream around 31cm to the fork came early in around 20 feet of water. This was followed by a 33cm fish off a pontoon and a 29cm fish off a flats area. Ultimately I filled my five fish limit but did not find any further upgrades.

“The approach was to use an Ecogear VX lure in colour 439 (smeared with S-Factor scent) and Juro Firebait rigged on Nitro weighted worm hooks and Nitro 1/50oz torpedo jigheads depending on the structure being cast into.

“The technique with the Ecogear lures was to place long casts into the same area. I would let the lure hit the bottom before retrieving it with a slow lift, retrieve and pause (4-5sec) motion.

“With the Juro Firebait (colour 05) I would rig it weedless and target weedy and rocky structure. Being fairly snag proof I would hop the lure from pocket to pocket with pauses and little flicks to attract any fish in the area.

“On day two I headed straight back to my day one location. The VX produced fish in around 20 feet of water. By 7.45am I had my five fish and concentrated on upgrading. My milk run included wharves and pontoons, where I found schooling fish. In the end I found one upgrade and returned to the weigh-in area to see if I had qualified for the top ten shootout.

“Come day three I quickly found that the deep bite had shut down. I caught a 30cm fish off the flats, but was finding the going very tough. I was fishing the back of a small bay and was becoming increasingly worried about the situation. I saw a yacht moored in the bay and as I came around the stern saw its name written across the side: Patience. Whether it was a sign or I just reminded myself to relax, I felt that I still had a chance to find the fish I needed.

“It was a very dark day and as I moved to my next spot I decided to change my lure to a Berkley Minnow in pepper prawn colour. It immediately paid dividends with a 35cm fish hitting the deck. I continued working the area for no further fish. A boat in Careel Bay yielded a 35cm. I went to a bay on the eastern side for no luck. Back to the western side I headed to some pontoons. In deeper water I sounded up some fish and caught my fourth and final fish shortly after.

“I was happy with my bag. Even though I had only four fish there were two good kicker fish. I was confident that the bag would get to 3kg,” finished Sczepaniak.

Sczepaniak’s outfits were geared to his dual presentations. For plastics he used a Lox Yoshi LS7623, 1-3kg rod teamed with a Daiwa Sol 2500 reel spooled with 2lb Sunline Super Sniper FC. For blades the outfit was a G Loomis DSR 820S, 4-5lb rod teamed with a Daiwa Sol 2000 reel spooled with 3lb PowerPro braid in white and 4lb Sunline VHard leader.

“Looking forward I have a love/hate relationship with Forster. Hopefully I will get a chance to prefish the event and as always will give it my best. I would also like to thank Fish Outta Water, Lox rods, Sydney Powerboat Centre, Nowra Marine and Tackle, my family and ABT for their assistance and support,” said Sczepaniak.

Queenslander Steve Morgan (15/15, 9.13kg) improved on his 2010 third place in this arena to claim second. He noted that although his weight from year to year was virtually identical (9.03kg in 2010), the fish couldn’t have been more different.

“On the practice day, nothing that caught me fish the previous year worked, and I mean nothing,” he said.

“So I went back to patterns that worked for me three or four years ago”.

Those patterns involved casting lipless sinking minnows (PML painted Tiemco Stick Minnows in Ayu and Atomic semi-hardz in watermelon) at moored boats in the northern end of Pittwater in 10-20 feet of water. He also weighed a couple of fish on a black Ecogear ZX30 blade where the water was 15-25 feet deep.

“With the water so clear in Pittwater, you really do have to drop down to the lightest gear you have and fish ultra-finesse.

“I was using 2lb and 3lb Yamatoyo Spinning Fluoro straight through to the lure,” said Morgan.

Morgan also used barbless hooks on all of his stickbaits. “There are a couple of advantages of the barbless hooks. Apart from getting a very easy hookup on 2lb line, they tear a much smaller hole in the lips. I lose fewer fish with barbless. In three tournament days, I lost one fish to a broken line and one fish to the hooks falling out. That was it. I was very happy with my execution this year. The other advantage is that if the lure gets hung on a mooring rope, it’s dead easy to remove,” said Morgan.

Morgan fished a custom built G Loomis S842 blanks (by Ian Miller and Gary Howard) and Daiwa Exist 1003 and Steez 2004 reels.

Morgan commented that it was important to sink the stickbaits on a slack line, even given the difficulty in the windy conditions. He said that if the lure didn’t sink straight down or there was any resistance, the bream wouldn’t touch it. With this information he concluded the fish were definitely related to the bottom under the boats and not the hulls themselves.

Ian Seeto caught the event Big Bream with his day one effort of 1.32kg.

Seeto said “I was fishing between boat hulls in the Berowa area using an Ecogear VX35 in colour 439. I was using a slow lift and drop motion in around 25 feet of water. At around 9.15am I hooked into the big bream. It gave up a good fight but knew from the outset it was destined for my livewell,” he finished.

Nick Georgiadis, 6/10, 2.90kg, took out the champion non-boater title for the event. Fishing with Ian Seeto on day one and Simon Sczepaniak on day two, Georgiadis caught three fish each session to better his nearest rival by 660g.

“The first day I targeted boat moorings, specifically those with mooring blocks, in Berowa Waters. Fishing in 10-16 feet of water I would slow hop an Ecogear VX35 in colour 439 to get my fish. The key was staying in contact with the lure.

“Day two I headed to Pittwater where I targeted windward shoreline, banks and pontoons. Light line was the key with 2lb FC straight through the order of the day. The lure used was a Juro Firebait rigged on a TT Hidden Weight jighead. This lure would be cast over weed beds with most bites coming when the lure dropped into gaps in the weed.”

Georgiadis’ outfit consisted of a 6’9” Daiwa Saltist short bite rod teamed with a Daiwa 2508 Steez reel spooled with Castaway 10lb braid and 2lb Sunline FC rock leader.

For details on the latest tournament news check out www.bream.com.au or contact ABT on 07 3387 0888 (B/H). – ABT

Boater Top 10

PlaceAnglerFishWeight (kg)Payout
1Simon SCZEPANIAK149.66$3900
2Steve MORGAN159.13$2600
3Steve GILL128.88$1350
4David GIBSON148.38$1100
5John BALCOMB158.03$1,000
6Scott BUTLER137.75$850
7Kristoffer HICKSON147.44
8Russell BABEKUHL136.92
9Chris WRIGHT136.91
10Wayne REED104.63

Non-Boater Top 10

PlaceAnglerFishWeight (kg)
2James SMITH32.24
3Tim OLSEN52.17
4Steven CEFAI41.91
5Dion BULL31.87
6Anthony TEDESCO31.43
7Nick LOTOTZKY31.42
8Steven BABIC31.31
9Leon BETTSON11.09
10Nathan LEICHT21.08
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