Sonter on track at Lake Mac
  |  First Published: July 2014

Ronnie Sonter (6/6, 3.82kg) has taken out the Lake Macquarie State Title event of the 2014 Hobie Kayak BREAM Series presented by Daiwa. The win delivered Sonter his second Hobie Kayak BREAM Series victory (Sonter took out the 2013 Marlo event) and instant qualification into the season ending Grand Final. The 33 year old Umina resident regularly fishes Lake Macquarie and drew on his experience to find fish in the clear, calm conditions.

“The week before the pre-fish ban started I fished to the south and didn't find a lot of fish,” Sonter said. “In the end I put together a bag going 1.9kg, but it didn't fill me with confidence as I only got the five legal fish in seven hours. So I went back later in the week to try the northern side of the lake around the Belmont area and this turned out to be a good move.

“I found large numbers of good bream on three different sections of flats and spent most of the day marking drifts along the weed beds. Every bream I caught was over 33cm. I found in the pre-fish the bream were holding in the thicker sections of the bright green ribbon weed, which was giving them cover in the shallow and clear water.”

However, pre-fish patterns can change overnight and it was a long two weeks before Sonter could think about returning to the water.

“In the days leading up to the comp I was a little worried they wouldn't be there, but with daytime temps in the mid 20s in the weeks leading up to the event I was hopeful there'd still be a few up there,” he said.

With his plan still in effect Sonter hit the ground running, returning to his pre-fish hotspot in expectation of finding quality fish in good numbers.

“Both days of the comp I went straight to the flats and started my drifts along the marks I had put down two weeks prior,” he explained. “On day one I put together a bag of just legals on the first drift of the first section of flats I intended to fish. The bream measured 27cm, 29cm and 30cm respectively. I spent the next five hours moving around the different sections of flats concentrating on the thicker weed patches and slowly managed to upgrade my whole bag to 32cm, 32cm and 38cm bream before heading back to the weigh in at 1pm.”

Come day two Sonter was keen to head straight to his day one location and replicate his efforts.

“Day two started much the same. I headed straight to the same flat and started my drift,” he said. “On my third cast I hooked a solid 38cm bream and thought it was going to be a good day. Unfortunately I ended up having to work hard for them on day two with only the three more legal fish coming, each about an hour apart. The best two bream went 36cm, giving me a bag of 36cm, 36cm and 38cm.”

Sonter embraced the ABT motto ‘Who Shares Wins’, and duly shared the information that had resulted in a victory by 220g.

“I only used the one lure all weekend in one colour,” he revealed. “The lure was an all black Austackle Ranger coloured in with permanent marker and eyes that were a little small due to not having time to get them pimped.

“I positioned my kayak in around the 1-1.3m mark and drifted along the GPS marks casting the lure up into 60-70cm of water targeting the thicker weed beds. I started a consistent fast rip with a high rod angle the moment the lure hit the water to keep the lure above the weed. Being a slow sinking lure it's a fine line between catching weed and ripping too hard and pulling it up to the surface when fished over these very shallow weed beds.”

Dunn hits hulls to take second

Stewart Dunn (6/6, 3.60kg) secured second place with consistent limits each session. His day two limit rocketed him into contention, only to be held off by the tournament’s biggest limit. The majority of Dunn’s bream came from accurate casts at boat hulls.

“I didn’t get a chance to pre-fish so I used Google Earth to pick an area to fish,” he said. “I found Belmont Bay had a whole stack of boats moored in fairly shallow water. You could tell it was shallow because you could see where the mooring ropes wore out circular patches on the weed beds. I figured these little areas would be very likely bream habitat.

“I went straight to this location on day one where I made accurate casts under the boat hulls with OSP Do-live craws rigged on 1/28th TT jig heads. I got a bag pretty quickly which gave me the freedom to leave half the bay alone to fish the next day and the opportunity to have a look around for other spots for day two. I then found active bream taking crankbaits on the flats and out deeper in 9m of water taking Ecogear blades. Fishing the deep water was a big part of my plan for the following day.”

On day two Dunn found the fishing increasingly difficult and used an old favourite to secure the timid bites on offer.

“I switched to an old Tacklecraft prawn in muddy green to get my limit from the boat hulls. I think the fact that the lure is very translucent and soft gives it extra appeal to timid fish. Longer casts that made very little splash were the key to getting these shy fish to bite. My initial bag was much smaller than day one, but I persisted in the same area until I secured some better upgrades.

“I then made the move out to the deep water hoping to find some sort of hump near one of the points. I was hoping to find baitfish holed up on one side due to the current. After staring at the sounder and making the odd cast for about an hour I gave up and changed tack. I fished some new boat hulls on the other side of the bay at Coal Point where I picked up two nice upgrades. I then made my way back to the weigh-in. I knew there would be some great bags back at the weigh-in that had come from the flats. A handful of the guys that did well on day one had done better on day two which made for an exciting weigh-in.

“A big thanks to the organisers for running this event and I hope to get a chance to do a round here again!”


Winning Tackle

Rod - Austackle FeatherLight 7’ 1-3kg

Reel – Daiwa 2000 Freams

Line and leader - 4lb braid and a 5-10m long 3lb leader

Winning Ways

The fast rip technique combined with a long 3lb leader was the key to getting the reaction bite needed in the clear water on the shallow flats.

Hogs Breath Café Boss Hog Big Bream

Jason Meech secured the event’s Hogs Breath Café Boss Hog Big Bream in the final session. The 970g bream was the kicker fish in Meech’s 1.71kg tournament limit, helping him to secure third position overall. The bream fell to a slow rolled Prolure shallow crankbait in black. The location was a selected seagrass bed located 800m from the start line.


PlaceAnglerStateFishWeightPrize pack
1Ronnie SONTERNSW63.82$800 + Lowrance Elite-5X Fishfinder, Daiwa, Atomic
2Stewart DUNNNSW63.6$400 + Unitika, Berkley, Austackle, TTs
3Jason MEECHNSW63.47$260 + Boss Hog ($100) + Strike Pro, Austackle, Eco Gear
4Jim HALLIDAYNSW63$220 + Eco Gear, TT lures, Atomic, Yamatoyo
5Scott SLATTERYNSW62.87$190 + 1st PRO ($70) + Berkley, Austackle, Atomic, TTs

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