Forster, NSW, once again played host to one of the BREAM season highlights, the Minn Kota BREAM Megabucks event. Using a team skins format, the event provided anglers the opportunity to secure great cash prizes in each tournament session.
Performing well in these high pressure/high stakes environment required anglers to stay connected with the large racks and flats dwelling bream – a task easier said than done!
Twenty-six teams competed with nine teams taking away cash and prizes worth over $26,000.
Let’s take a look at the teams who performed best during the tournament;
During the prefish Team Lance, Matthew Braun and Stuart Kelly, found fish on the south side of Wallis Island. The fish were located around weed edges in 4-6ft of water.
“As we fished deeper the fish became smaller so we targeted bream in that specific depth of water,” said Braun.
On day one Team Lance headed to their key location. Conditions were clear and glassy with the tide low. Braun breaks down the session as it unfolded; “We caught three fish in the first hour and a half, the fish being around 32cm fork length. We then rested the spot and travelled to the western side near Coomba Park. We added two just legal fish to the well.
“Returning to our key location the wind had begun to get up as the tide rose. We decided to get up on the flats in around 2ft of water. Using surface lures we found two good fish, one of which was the second largest bream caught in the session.”
Early on in the session, until around 11am, the team presented soft plastics. They used lightly rigged Berkley Shrimp in camo, banana prawn and pepper prawn colours. They also had success with Berkley lime tiger minnows. rigged on 1/16oz and 1/24oz jigheads with a 1/0 hook. Tail bites (aka short strikes) were common, but it was too weedy for stinger hooks. In total their first three fish came on soft plastics.
“The fish were holding on the bottom. To get them to bite we would cast the lure, let it sink to the bottom where it would sit for about five seconds before hopping it up and left to rest again. The fish were coming over and picking the lure up off the bottom.
“We used a variety of hardbody lures including the Maria Crank in BGM colour. When the wind got up we focused on surface lures. These were the Maria Pencil and Bassday Sugar Pen in C95 colour. The action was walking-the-dog with long pauses. It was a hard slog, but we managed to find fish that co-operated.
“With the quality of the fish we had we were confident of being in the money, but didn’t believe that we would have enough to win. Top five was the goal so we’re very pleased with the result.”
Lures: Maria Crank in BGM colour. Maria Pencil. Bassday Sugar Pen in C95 colour.
Outfits: G.Loomis 7’ rod teamed with 2500 size Shimano reel spooled with 6lb Berkley Fireline in crystal colour and 4lb Sunline Rock FC leader.
Samaki 7’ rod teamed with a Daiwa Certate 2500 reel spooled with 10lb PE in orange colour and 4lb Sunline Rock FC leader.
Matthew Braun said, “The key was to stay away from other boats. We knew if we could find our own ground the fish would be less pressured and more receptive to our lures.”
Team Pflueger/Evinrude, Ross Cannizzaro and Alan Loftus, landed day one session’s Big Bream measuring 980g.
Ross Cannizzaro recounts the story, “There was a large amount of floating weed in the system during the tournament. It would clump together in large patches, up to 20m2 in diameter. Around midday I was fishing across a large patch of this floating weed, tea bagging the lure over the opposite edge, when I hooked up. I was only fishing 2lb so I freespooled the reel and went around to the other side of the weed bed to fight the fish. Fortunately the hooks stayed in and after a few tense minutes the fish hit the deck.
“The lure used was a Gulp 2” Shrimp in pepper prawn colour rigged on a 1/50oz Torpedo jighead.”
During the prefish team Gladiator Tackle, Anthony and Rodney Thorpe, noted that the recent rain had pushed the bream out of the rivers and into the main lake area. Using hookless poppers they were able to locate fish and confirm their key tournament locations.
On day one the team found their limit, but was unable to break into the top five. Anthony Thorpe explained the changes made on day two and how the team ultimately secured top honours.
“On day one we had used soft plastics and surface lures, specifically the Lucky Craft Gunfish 95mm and Lucky Craft Sammy 85mm. There were a number of missed strikes that would have made a difference so we decided to downsize our lures in order to increase our chances.”
Their lures of choice were a 60mm Gladiator Kozami in 004 colour and the Gladiator Smash Bait 7cm in colour 1, which they claimed looked like a natural bait fish, especially in sunlight.
“Our key location was a large 50m2 section of cockle weed. The depth was between 1-2ft. When we arrived on day two there was cloud cover with a light wind. We caught three fish within an hour and a half, including the fish that ultimately secured the session big bream [1.31kg]. After an hour and a half the cloud cleared so we went to our next location,” said Anthony.
“The next location was a southern bay on the western side of the lake. The location held bait, but was protected from the prevailing wind. We got one fish on a plastic within an hour and a half before moving on.
“We headed back to our start location for half an hour but didn’t find any fish. We knew we would have to not only fill our five fish limit but potentially upgrade any smaller fish. We headed to a weed bed north of Pipers Bay. Within the first five minutes, using plastics, we had caught five fish that filled our limit.”
In the remainder of the session they found one upgrade which gave them a competitive limit heading back to the weigh in.
“We knew we had performed, but thought we would need one more upgrade. We weighed in early and as the weights came through we were fairly confident in our bag. We knew that the area as a whole had copped a lot of pressure over the course of the event so producing bigger bags would be increasingly difficult.
“When the final bag was weighed we were over the moon. The icing on the cake was taking out the BETS round that run in conjunction with the MegaBucks event on Sunday.
“Having fished Megabucks for five years it was great to finally secure a session win.”
Gladiator Tackle also caught the session’s 1.31kg Big Bream. It was caught early in the session from a large 50m2 section of cockle weed. The fish was the second of the day and set up the team for a great day on the water.
The fish was caught on a 60mm Gladiator Kozami in 004 colour.
Lures: 60mm Gladiator Kozami in 004 colour. Gladiator Smash Bait 7cm in colour 1.
Outfits: 7’ Gladiator Elite Industries rod teamed with a Banax Ares 500 reel spooled with 10lb Gosen PE and 5lb Sunline FC Rock leader.
7’ Banax lexima rod teamed with a Shimano Stradic 1000 CI4 and 5lb Sunline Rock FC leader.
Anthony Thorpe said, “The key was to persist with surface lures. The bigger fish were reacting to the presentation.
“Also with the soft plastic presentation, we used stingers in the prefish. We found we caught lots of fish, but more often the smaller fish would take the lure before the bigger fish had an opportunity. We didn’t use a stinger hook in the comp and found the bigger fish hooked up.”
Team Bream On (John Startin and Beau Startin) secured the overall win courtesy of two consistent days on the water. A third place in session one and second place in session two guaranteed the team a healthy $5000 payday for the tournament.
In addition to the cash and prizes on offer, Minn Kota came to the party with two $400 gift vouchers, a Minn Kota i-Pilot and a Minn Kota transom mount electric motor. The $400 vouchers were randomly drawn with Mark Healey and Shawn Chapman being the lucky recipients.
Team Gladiator Tackle (Anthony Thorpe and Rodney Thorpe) took out the Minn Kota i-Pilot for the tournaments largest overall bream (1.31kg).
A lucky member of the public took away the Minn Kota transom motor. Wal Humphrys of Tamworth shares his elation, “I have a 3.5m car topper that I will use the electric motor for. I enjoy my fishing, especially for bass at Lake Glenbawn. It is a great prize and I would like to thank Minn Kota for supporting the event.”
A charity drive during the tournament saw valuable money raised for a great cause. The lureandfly.com team, in conjunction with ABT, Daiwa, Hobie and BETS, collected gold coin donations from anglers, spectators and ABT to raise a massive $567.35 for the NSW Cancer Council.
As an extra incentive, angler Josh Carpenter put his face on the line for the fundraiser. Josh parted company with his beard after six months. The now baby-faced Carpenter said, “At least it was for a good cause.” With his donation being randomly selected, Shaun Chapman had the honours of taking the first hairs off Josh’s face and was presented with a Daiwa Z200 courtesy of Daiwa Australia for his troubles.
Place Team Fish Weight Payout
1LANCE: Matthew Braun and Stuart Kelly 5/53.54$5000
2TT LURES: Kristoffer Hickson and Daniel Brown 5/53.41$3,000
3BREAM ON: John Startin and Beau Startin 5/53.34$2,000
4PFLUEGER/EVINRUDE: Ross Cannizzaro and Alan Loftus 5/52.97$1500 + $500 BB
5BOX FISH RESTAURANT: Chris Deland and Peter McKinnon 5/52.92$1,000
6ATOMIC HARDZ: Steve Eldred and Tristan Taylor 5/52.70
7TEAM MINNKOTA: Tim Morgan and Michael Starkey 5/52.43
8LOWRANCE/EVINRUDE: Mark Healey and Adrian Neoh 5/52.40
9GLADIATOR TACKLE: Anthony Thorpe and Rodney Thorpe 5/52.36
10BERKLEY: Russell Babekuhl and Trent Fahey 5/52.32
Place Team Fish Weight Payout
1GLADIATOR TACKLE: Anthony Thorpe and Rodney Thorpe 5/53.52$5000 + $500 BB
2BREAM ON: John Startin and Beau Startin 5/53.40$3,000
3TT'S: Darren Borg and Tracey Mammen 5/53.12$2,000
4HOBIE FISHING: Shayne Gillett and Wayne Reed 5/53.07$1,500
5TT LURES: Kristoffer Hickson and Daniel Brown 5/52.83$1,000
6PFLUEGER/EVINRUDE: Ross Cannizzaro and Alan Loftus 5/52.80
7ATOMIC HARDZ: Steve Eldred and Tristan Taylor 5/52.70
8LANCE: Matthew Braun and Stuart Kelly 5/52.61
9BOX FISH RESTAURANT: Chris Deland and Peter McKinnon 5/52.58
10DUFFRODS: Greg Beattie and David Welfare 5/52.52Reads: 920