The 2014 Hobie Kayak Bream Series National Championship presented by Daiwa held at South Yunderup, WA saw 48 of Australia’s best kayak anglers tussle for the prized title as the Hobie Kayak Australian Champion. After a second solid day of action on the water, Chris Burbidge from Ferntree Gully in Victoria was crowned top honours.
The day started at 6am on the Murray River, an hour earlier than day one. The Power-Pole starting line looked amazing in the overcast, early, morning light as anglers jostled for positions to take advantage of the crucial hours of fishing at the start of the day.
Daniel Brown from Taree in NSW sat nervously on the starting line at the top of the Lowrance Leader board with his 2.34kg bag giving him a slight 370g lead over his nearest rival. Western Australia’s Brett Ozanne started the day in second on 1.87kg and eventual winner Chris Burbidge sat in third position on 1.67kg.
The field of excited anglers pedalled off on the final day of the Australian Championship to execute the plans of attack that they had adjusted after the previous day’s fishing fishing. Some headed further afield but in the same direction as the day before, others stayed closer to the event site and many headed off to completely new locations. It was common for competitors to have covered more than 15km in the session with one Hobie kayaker pedalling his Hobie Pro Angler 12 over 25km on the day.
As the grand finalists worked the early hours, the weather conditions had deteriorated from the day before. Rain squalls, accompanied by wind gusts of up to 25km/h and sudden cold snaps hit the arena. When the sun did break through around mid-morning, the cloud layer dissipated and the UV levels soared as the heat intensified. When the fronts passed and the wind subsided, the waves began a more rhythmic pattern out on the inlet. The rivers were covered in light ripples and glassy water glistened in the protected areas of the rivers and canals.
For many, the fish refused to strike early in the morning, including top 10 positioned anglers who became panicky as fish resisted their presentations. Most anglers thought that the bream would show their most aggressive nature early but some more technical-based predictions suggested that the best bite time would be from 11am-12pm. This is exactly what day one leader Daniel Brown was hoping for at 11am, when he had caught plenty of under sized fish but had no legals in his livewell.
All over the arena the situation varied but the black bream in the upper Murray River where Burbidge had ventured where taking lures through most of the day and a lot of anglers who headed in that direction came home with full bags. It was the same direction that a pod of dolphins, which frequent the river, also chose to head to as they passed through the field of anglers as the tournament kicked off. They were heading back past the Daiwa Event Site at 1pm striking fish, making the water boil, in amongst the snags and riverbanks on the way back through to the inlet. The dolphins knew where the fish were and the best times to target them.
When the anglers returned to the Atomic Launch Site, many were happy with their bags, some just happy not to have come home empty handed 2 days straight and others were excited about their prospects. Daniel Brown was dejected as he pedalled to shore with no fish in his well; the day one leader and two times champion was out of the running for a spot on the podium.
Burbidge stood at the Berkely Bump Tub watching as angler after angler went up on stage. Finally, it was his turn to walk down the green carpet of the Rhino-Rack Runway and up the stairs and onto the stage in front of the 200 strong crowd gathered to watch a Hobie Tournament weigh-in.
Burbidge was the second last angler to weigh-in his bag of 3 fish and was excited as he took over the ‘Hot Seat’, (the seat on the stage reserved for the current leader as the weigh-in progressed). He remained reserved, but with nervous anticipation he looked on as Brett Ozanne came up on stage for the final weigh-in of the tournament.
When Ozanne came to the scales he needed a bag weight on the day of 1.4kg to take the title. His 3 bream, mostly taken in the canal just 1.2km west of the Daiwa Event Site, fell just short at 1.25kg and Burbidge pumped his fist in the air, ecstatic with his victory. After a great year on the water including 3 tournament victories, the 2014 Hobie Kayak Bream Series Australian Championship title was now rightfully his.
After the presentation of the championship trophy in front of a large crowd of onlookers Burbidge offered his thoughts on his performance and on the tournament.
“To make it to the Grand Final I had a few performances I was pretty happy with; I won 3 tournaments this year, Paynesville, Lake Tyers and Nelson, the very first round at the beginning of the year,” he said.
“When the tournament here got off to a start on Saturday, I had a pretty good day, I didn’t think I had done enough but I ended up in 3rd place. I just did what I know to do around structure, which is to use deep diving hardbodies and little 40mm vibes.”
“Today I started off with exactly the same lures and all I was getting were those spangled grunter or whatever they are called. I got about 15 of those and I thought, ‘This area’s not working now’. My first fish didn’t come until about 9.30 or 10 o’clock so I was starting to hit the panic button. My finger was sort of on it. So I went well up the river and ended up putting on a purple vibe, just in desperation. About 3 casts later I was into me first fish and it just went on from there and I kept doing that all day. Slow rolling it, fishing structure, fishing drop offs. It didn’t matter what I was casting at I was hooking fish. I only got busted off once today, so I was pretty happy with that. But the vibe did the job for me again; it turned out to be just a fantastic day.”
After a brilliant 2 days of fishing, 2nd place in the Hobie Kayak Bream Series Australian Championship went to exceptional Western Australian angler Brett Ozanne, who maintained a constant position.
“I came into today quietly confident, I suppose. I knew it was going to be tough today but I thought that local knowledge would come into play and the local guys would get a bag and some of the east coast guys would have a bit of a struggle to get 3 fish. But with guys of the calibre of Chris Burbidge, they can always pull one out of the bag and they did,” he said.
“I’m absolutely pumped with the whole weekend. I pre-fished pretty extensively and I was fairly confident coming into the comp and wasn’t really thinking about really competing against anyone but myself. I had nothing to lose and it came off, 2 full bags, which were really what I wanted to get, two full bags. I was absolutely stoked.”
“I basically used the same technique all weekend. I found fish on the little shallow flats on the canal system where there was a clear layer of sand over a dirty layer and they were puffing up all over the sand, so I could see them. I worked the Atomic Crank over the flats, I kicked up a bity of dirt with it, here and there, to get the fishes’ attention and then I gave it a pause and a twitch and they jumped all over it. That pretty much worked all weekend. It was just a matter of finding the fish in the canal and when I did they were really flighty, even when I stood up in the Hobie they would get spooked. I just found a couple of really good patches and probably pulled most of my fish from one 50m stretch. That fished pretty well all weekend until it shut down about 10.30.”
“I went into the flats in the canals this morning chucking an Atomic Crank, my last ghost gill Atomic Crank after yesterday snapping the bib off one on a fish and losing one to a little chopper tailor. I came up to my flat at the end of a jetty, and pegged it under the jetty and got a fish. I couldn’t turn the PA back in time; I free-spooled and lost the lure. Devastated, I tied on a Muddy Prawn, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I came back to that jetty probably 40 minutes later only to find that Atomic Crank of mine floating on the surface under the jetty. I couldn’t believe it and what was even better, I caught my last two fish on that Atomic Crank.
“I’m absolutely stoked I came 2nd. Better than I could have hoped and to do it for WA, I’m absolutely rapt”.
Third place went to Queenslander Michael Maas from North Gold Coast.
“It is a bit different coming here so I wasn’t expecting to catch my bag each day. But I sort of just fished it the way I do back home and it paid off. I pitched 2.5” Damiki D Grub on 3lb leader into the trees, into the timber. There’s just that much structure here you miss a fish on one and you just go to the next one and pitch away again and you just keep getting them. I got 20 legal fish on the final day, but the day before I only got 5,” he said.
“I was 7th coming into the final day and getting a podium finish is just unbelievable. I loved coming here with all the timber and the river. I love fishing all of the natural structure, back at home too. It reminded me of a place I love to fish at home, Jumpinpin, with all its timber and mangroves. I had to adjust, a little bit, to the fact that there was no real tide. Being from Queensland we get 2m tides, so there’s a bit of a difference. But I just downsized the plastic and downsized the jighead and it just worked.”
“Hobie events in Australia are awesome. I fish the boating events and the kayak events but I think the kayak events might be up above the boating events at the moment, the way they are run and the way they are organised. The guys just do an awesome job and the venue here for this championship was awesome, what else can I say. I just loved being here.”
For the first time in the championships two anglers brought fish to the scales that weighed in at exactly the same weight. On day one Daniel Brown from Taree in NSW brought in the largest fish of the day coming with a 1.06kg ‘keg’, which he pulled in from the lower reaches of the Murray River. On day two Jim Barrie from the NSW South Coast town of Nowra caught another ‘bag kicker’ in the upper reaches of the estuary also weighing 1.06kg.
“I caught him down river just sitting on a snag on one of the points of the islands. I threw into the snag and I was lucky that he hit it hard and I locked him in,” Daniel said. “Luckily, he ran straight out towards the yak instead of turning back. I fought him under the yak and I was stoked when I managed to pull him on board my Hobie,” Daniel said.
Jim Barrie caught his bream in a different location and setting entirely.
“I was working a 100m open bank with no structure about 10km up river from the start. After casting the lure, it hit the bottom, I gave the reel one slow crank and the fish gulped it,” Jim said. “I could tell, compared to all of the fish I had caught over the weekend, that it was a solid bream. It put up a fair fight but thankfully it was already in the open. When I pulled him aboard, I knew I had a big chance for the Boss Hog Big Bream”.
A total of 144 black bream were caught in the Murray and Serpentine River systems over the weekend. The total catch weight of the fish was 68.83kg and the average fish weight amounted to 478g. Not a bad weekend fishing for anglers, who for the most part were fishing in tough conditions, in unfamiliar territory and without the assistance of a pre-fish in the area.
Matt Williams and the team from Getaway Outdoors did an absolutely brilliant job providing dealer support and providing the breakfasts, lunches, drinks and snack packs for everyone one involved in the tournament. Thankyou also for assisting Hobie Cat Australasia in getting this excellent tournament to be such a momentous occasion for the competing anglers and for the followers of the sport of kayak fishing in Australia.
The Hobie Kayak Bream Series Grand Final could not have gone ahead without the great support of our generous sponsors Daiwa , Berkley , Atomic , Lowrance , Rhino-Rack , Strike Pro , Austackle , TT Lures , Yamatoyo , Ecogear , Power-Pole and Hog’s Breath Cafe . – Hobie Australasia
RodDuff H2O 7ft
ReelDaiwa Luvias 2004
LeaderFC Rock 6lb
RodNitro Vapor 6ft, 6ft 6”
ReelShimano Stradic Ci4+, Rarenium Ci4+
Daniel Brown’s Big Bream tackle
RodDaiwa Black Label 6’1”
LureZ Man Grubz 2.5“ Bloodworm on a 1/28oz Jighead
Jim Barrie’s Big Bream tackle
RodDaiwa Battler Kung Fu Prancer
ReelDaiwa Certate 1003
LineCastaway PE 10lb
LeaderFC Rock 6lb