A new Grand Final champion was crowned in November with Nowra’s Liam Carruthers storming through from 6th place on the final day to claim victory in the biggest event on the ABT BREAM calendar, the Berkley BREAM Grand Final, 6-8 November.
With limited Clarence River experience to his name and only a successful Thursday prefish to guide him, Carruthers started off on Day One fishing one of his successful prefish locations, Middle Reef.
“I caught some good fish there on Thursday, and it didn’t take long or much to get them to bite. But by 10.30am on Day One we only had one fish for our efforts,” explained Carruthers.
With a less than ideal start, Carruthers moved and headed to perhaps the most well known location on the Clarence, Browns Rocks.
“I had a mark in my GPS from the day before and despite Browns having plenty of people on it, there was no one near my mark.”
It didn’t take long for Liam to find the fish, and within 10 minutes his picked up a 35cm bream. That fish was the start of a string of fish with Carruthers and co-angler, Simon Johnson, filling their limit, as they upgraded and were busted off by big fish multiple times throughout the session. Curruthers’ technique involved casting a heavy Cranka Crab up current then drifting it down with the tide so it hit the rocky bottom and associated current eddies in about 14-17ft of water.
“14-17ft was the key working depth, as the fish would hold here in eddies intercepting food as it was flushed down with the current,” Liam explained.
Carruthers would feel the Cranka Crab bump its way along the bottom, and give the lure the occasional small twitch, and it was on the twitch that most fish would crunch the lure.
Sitting in 10th place at the end of Day One, Carruthers returned to Browns Rocks at the start of Day Two and picked up where he left off. His first cast resulted in a legal and his non-boater Taigan Heath soon followed with a legal on his first cast. More fish followed, and by 8.30am the pair had their limit.
“It’s always exciting when you get your limit early, and to be honest the nerves started to take hold, so I recomposed myself and focused on catching some larger upgrades”, explained Carruthers.
A few bust-offs only frustrated the situation, but Carruthers soon calmed down and added a solid 35cm to his limit. A couple more bust-offs followed but despite these missed opportunities Carruthers weighed in a 2.95kg limit to land in 6th place heading into the third and final day.
“To be honest I didn’t sleep much the night before the final day, the thoughts of what might be, kept running through my head. I knew there was always the far off chance that I could catch a big bag to run down the leader, but ultimately I knew the reality was more than likely a top ten finish. I resigned myself to this and my focus as we headed off on the final morning was to simply catch my bag and finish in the ten”, explained Carruthers.
Hitting Browns again, the action was a little slow, albeit the fish a little bigger, and by 10.30am Carruthers and his non-boater Alex Franchuk had their bag. The gun lure once again was the heavy Cranka Crab.
“It was a lot harder going on the final day with the weather and rain making it hard to hold position with the electric motor. By 1pm my electric motor batteries were just about dead. I said to Alex let’s do one more run and see if we can get a final kicker.”
Not far into their final drift and with a twitch of his Cranka Crab saw Liam tight to a big fish, an heroic battle followed and a 37.5cm fish was soon added to the livewell. Alex followed this performance with another upgrade, a 35cm bream that bumped their bag into true contender status.
“We were jumping out of our skin when we caught those two fish and the high we were on as we were driving back to the weigh-in was like nothing I’d ever felt before.”
Carruthers hit the stage mid-way through the weigh-in and threw the gauntlet down to his challengers, weighing in 3.75kg to charge into the lead. Seeing off multiple challengers until only Day Two leader Chris Britton stood in his way of victory. The standout angler on the first two days, Britton struggled to find the fish he needed on the final day weighing in a 2.44kg limit to fall 60g short, and hand Carruthers the tournament win.
“To win a BREAM Grand Final and do it by weighing in your biggest limit for the tournament on the final day is the stuff of dreams. It’s a memory and achievement that I will cherish for ever.”
Brisbane’s Chris Britton narrowly fell short of claiming victory on the Clarence with the Berkley BREAM Pro stumbling on the final day to hand victory to Carruthers. Leading the field out on the final day, Britton weighed in his lightest bag (2.44kg) for the tournament on Day Three, a limit that was 1.31kg lighter than Carruthers’ bag.
Fishing a combination of locations for the tournament, Britton started day one at Collis Wall pitching crab profile lures shallow onto the wall and drifting down the slope of the wall into 30ft+ of wall. The first cast produced a 30cm fish and a string of fish followed for an hour.
“While I caught a couple of fish high on the wall most came down deep as the lure sat slack on the bottom,” explained Britton.
After picking up his limit and a few upgrades, Britton moved to Middle Wall in search of upgrades. Catching only small fish he then moved again, this time hitting Browns Rocks for the last hour of the session. A big fish found its freedom after rubbing through the line, and despite this last minute attempt failing, Britton weighed in a 3.21kg limit to be sitting in the top three heading into Day Two.
Collis Wallis beckoned again on the start of Day Two and with the tide an hour later; the bite took longer to kick into gear.
“We moved up and down the wall, and while the numbers of fish were down, the quality was up, with four of the five fish in our limit over 30cm.”
Britton’s non-boater Aaron Clifton added a 38cm fork length fish to their limit 1.5 hours into the session, and half an hour later decided to move location and rest Collis Wall for the 3rd and final session.
Hitting Middle Wall and a series of spot between Maclean and Yamba, the pair picked up few more fish, no upgrades however, before returning to the weigh-in to deliver the biggest limit for the day to the scales, an impressive 3.82kg.
Leading out the field on the final morning Britton once again headed straight to Collis Wall. An hour in and with no fish in the well Britton was starting to get a little nervous.
“I wasn’t sure if the bite was being driven by tide or time, but not long after the first hour the first fish came”, explained Britton.
While smaller (28cm) than the fish of the first two days, it was a start, and was soon followed by the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th fish of his limit.
“The last fish for the limit was only 25cm and we had nothing bigger than 30cm. We had to bucket fill and add an aerator as the livewell didn’t want to work, and that to didn’t make for a great start.”
A couple of missed upgrades from fish rubbing them off soon followed and Britton and his non-boater Shaun Egan moved location and headed to Middle Wall. The move paid dividends with three bites producing two upgrades. After a couple more drifts on Middle Wall, they moved back to Collis Wall hopeful of a couple more upgrades.
Their thinking was spot on and while Britton and Egan got the two big bites they were looking for they rubbed off on the rocky bottom below.
“When we lost both those fish I had the feeling that I’d just lost the Grand Final”, explained Britton. Britton’s feeling was spot on and his 2.44kg limit fell just short of claiming him the win.
Newcastle’s Shaun Egan claimed victory in the non-boater division with the 40-year-old breamer securing a wire-to-wire victory. Fishing with Tom Slater on Day One Egan fished the North Wall using a deep-water Cranka Crab to catch his fish.
“I got off to a flying start, we picked up a 35cm and a 31cm in the first dozen casts, and over the next hour we picked up two 27cms and a 28cm,” explained Egan.
With the wall starting to slow, the paired moved to Browns Rocks and it was here that they struck gold catching 25-30 fish in around four hours. With the clock ticking, the need for more upgrades foremost in their mind they returned to Middle Wall, timing their return with the tide change and a bite window.
“We got dusted by a few fish as soon as we got there but we eventually boated a 40 and 35cm”, explained Egan.
The kicker fish they needed it bumped their bag to over four kilos (4.18kg) and had both Tom and Shaun sitting in the number one spot heading into day two.
Partnered with Matt Finney on day two the paired hit Collis Wall first up and over the next two hours filled their limit with a bag of quality fish. The pair then fished a series of locations including Middle Wall and Browns Rocks before finishing off their session in the canals. The pair weighed in a 2.88kg limit and once again it was the heavy Cranka Crab that did the damage.
With the leading boater paired with the leading non-boater on day three Egan headed off from the start line on the final day with Chris Britton excited about what lay ahead.
“We went to Collis Wall first and it took a while to put a fish in the well. We then picked up a few and at around 10.15am we caught the 5th fish of our limit. We then moved to Middle Wall and picked up two upgrades,” explained Egan.
With the weather changing for the worse, the pair headed to Browns Rocks, Middle Walls, then returned to Collis Wall in search of the big bites they needed to bump up their overall weight.
It was on their final run on Collis that they both hooked up on the fish that they were looking for, unfortunately both fish found freedom.
“We both wondered whether those fish would cost us at the end of the day”, explained Egan. The lost fish ultimately cost Britton the win, but for Egan their 2.44kg limit was just enough to deliver him the win.
The winning technique for Egan involved a Cranka Crab drifted with the current and drawn and dragged across the rocky bottom.
“If you felt a fish touch the lure you either dragged or slow rolled the lure to set the hook”, explained Egan.Post victory, Egan was thankful to many for his win.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my 3 Boaters for the Grand Final: Tom Slater, Matthew Finney and Chris Britton. I would also like to thank the ABT for the tournament series they run; it’s the best tournament series in the country. For any fisherman out there that wants to get into tournament fishing on an individual basis, the ABT Boater or non-boater divisions is the place to start.”
ABT would like to thanks all sponsors, anglers and stakeholders for the 2015 Berkley BREAM Series. For dates and details on the 2016 BREAM Series visit www.abt.org.au .
A lack of experience on the Clarence was no liability to Carruthers with the Grand Final champion keying in on the winning location, technique, and lure during the prefish the day before the event.
|Rod||1-4kg, 7’, Duffrods|
|Reel||Daiwa Luvias and Shimano Soare|
|Leader||5lb Sunline FC Rock leader|
|Lure||Heavy Cranka Crab in cockle, brown, olive and spotted colours|
Berkley BREAM Series: Berkley BREAM Grand Final Boater Results
|Place||Angler||Total Fish||Total Weight||Prize|
|Place||Angler||Total Fish||Total Weight||Prize|