Australia’s number 1 ranked teams angler, Taree’s Kris Hickson, proved that the type of craft is not important when it comes to ability to extract big bream from this prolific waterway. In compiling his 6/6, 3.37kg limit, Kris had a long pedal, heading 7.5km out to the racks up in the dirtier water behind Wallis Island.
“I figured if I fished a few weed beds and points on the way there and back, two hours each way with the forecast conditions should be a safe bet,” he said.
After a quiet start things picked up in the racks and he had three in the bag by 10:30am. A quick paddle to another set of racks on limited time scored him a 31cm upgrade.
“At the start of the paddle back I had a 25.5cm, 26.5cm and 31cm fork in the well which I thought was far from good enough,” he said, “so I paddled pretty hard to make sure I had time to fish a couple of poles and a flat on the way back. The pole produced a 27cm and 27.5cm and the flat a 28.5cm fish, giving me a much more respectable bag.”
The conditions on day two made the run to the racks more difficult, with shifting winds making for a headwind traveling in each direction. After a hard slog getting there and a slow start, Kris decided to switch to hardbodies for better results.
“As soon as I switched it was on!” he said. “The first few fish were undersize but after that a 27cm and 29cm fish were in the well to make up the bag with one upgrade. Then I got another 31cm in the bank to move on a little guy and the southerly hit with force, leaving me to head for home and the fish chewing.”
A last ditch effort on the same flat as the afternoon before paid off, producing a 28.5cm upgrade and a similar bag to day one.
Back at the weigh-in it was mixed results all round as the top few stumbled and some of the mid fielders weighed some reasonable bags.
“I was hopeful that I had enough to keep me in the top five but it never even crossed my mind that I’d finish first until Browny told me that the weigh in was over and I was on top of the list,” Kris said. “I was pretty stoked to say the least.
“Big thanks to all the competitors and officials and my personal sponsors Hobie, TT Lures, Daiwa, Blueye Sunglasses and Manning River Marine and also thanks to James from Barclays Marine for taking time out to run the BBQ.”
On day one, event runner-up Stewart Dunn had a long pedal out to the paddocks at the front of the system. He was taking a risk, reducing his fishing time by over four hours to get there and back.
“ I really needed to be on my way back at 11 or 11.30 to safely make it and time my run for the next day,” he said. “At 11 o’clock I had zero bream in my Hobie live well. I hadn’t seen many fish but the ones I saw were good sized. I was hitting one last area on my way out of the paddock, casting OSP Do-live craws tight into the vertical posts around the leases, when one came tight at 11:02. At 11:04 it happened again and at 11:08 I had bagged out.”
Relieved that his risk had paid off, he eventually decided to do the long haul back to the paddocks but then changed things up, switching to a Squidgy Lobby to punch casts in to the wind more easily on day two.
“The day started well and within three casts I had a squeaker in the well,” he said. “When I got to the second set of leases I caught a few good fish straight away. I was expecting a great session but to my surprise that was about it for me. The rest of the session saw pulled hooks or uninterested bream just swimming the other way.
“It was a really close round and I think I was super lucky to climb up to second place on day two. A massive thanks goes out to Andrew Death for his info from his pre-fish a month earlier. Without his advice I would have fished the flats with surface and cranks and caught smaller fish. Also a big thanks to Lox rods, and to Hobie/Daiwa and ABT for a very well run event.” - ABT
Rolling 2.5″ Bloodworm Zman GrubZ across the top of the racks with most fish eating the lure on the roll, and rolling hardbodies down the edge of the racks.