You could feel anticipation from all the participants in the lead-up to the Berkley Lake Macquarie BREAM Classic on May 19 and the bream were getting nervous.
Just on 53 teams entered for what promised to be an excellent event. In weeks leading up to the tournament , many chose to pre-fish and came up trumps with numerous catches of big bream.
On day 1 the westerly wind blew at 25 knots directly onto the shores of the headquarters at Rafferty’s Resort at Cams Wharf and wasn’t predicted to ease until Sunday afternoon. It made conditions a little ordinary for those who chose to use the boat ramps nearby.
At 7am the fleet thundered off, the majority heading west in search of protected waters. At the 2pm weigh-in time, crews held their bucking boats to prevent them being damaged by the strong chop as the fish were presented to the weighmaster.
A total of 19 teams achieved their bag limit of five fish and a total of 156 bream were weighed in. The largest was 1.14kg, caught by Mark Mangold of Team Berkley.
By Sunday the wind had eased back to 15 knots, leaving competitors to pursue the leading 3.5kg weight from Team Unreal. Only 1.3kg separated the top 20 positions. Fortunately much more of the lake was fishable because of the milder wind.
At weigh-in time the fish came in thick and fast, with a further 18 teams achieving a five-fish limit. Some of the larger totals were over 3kg and the by-catch fish of the day was a 5.5kg jewfish.
The crowd of onlookers grew to well over 400 as the wind eased down to a whisper.
Amid a field of some of the best competition breamers around, it was outstanding that the top three teams were all from local areas.
Team Slaughter, Rob Irons from Charlestown and Sean Reynolds from Mt Hutton, took out top prize with a bag of 7.63kg for 10 bream and received the $5000 winners’ prize as well as $250 from Evinrude for the biggest bream of the day at 1.52kg.
Second was Team SX, Ron Ashman and Scott Bilton, who received $1000 plus an ABU rod/reel combo and third were Mark Healey and Karen Scully from Fishing Point with a bag of 6.69kg.
Cash and prizes were awarded down to 32nd position.
One of the most remarkable figures from this tournament was firstly the amount of quality by-catch captured by the 106-competitor field. It included snapper to a kilo, tailor, tarwhine, leatherjackets, numerous flathead to 2kg and a kilo estuary cod which was released.
The most successful lures included Jackall Chubbys , Ecogear SX40s and the new Gulp moldy cheese 2” and 3” minnows.
This was an excellent tournament and a good testament to the fact that Lake Macquarie has an abundance of fish species with some consistent size. It bodes well for the national BREAM grand final later in the year on the same waters.
— Peter SandersonReads: 1997