Gippsland Lakes North Arm specialist Brad Hodges has taken out the Mercury Marine presented BREAM Qualifier, relegating WA native Charlie Saykao to runner-up.
With overnight leader Shaun Clancy failing to catch a full limit on day two, the door was open and Hodge made sure he was the first in line to take advantage. Storming home with the biggest bag of the tournament to pile on an impressive 10/10 limit weighing 9.46kg.
This isn’t Hodges’ first taste of success at Gippsland Lakes, he also won the event back in 2010. Just like he does almost every time the tour visits Gippsland, Hodge ventures to the North Arm of Lakes Entrance, the opposite way to the majority of the field.
Hodges chose to fish the shallow banks inside the North Arm on both day one and two.
His technique was high-sticking a Berkley Puppy Dog minnow. “I’d throw it into really skinny water and high-stick my rod to keep it up, then as the lure went over that first little drop-off, I’d lower the rod tip and allow it to dive a little,” Hodges commented.
This technique produced plenty of bites both days with Hodges landing a couple of key bites on day one that saw him weigh 4.06kg to sit in eighth position overnight. Day two was when everything came together for Hodges to weigh his largest ever limit in an ABT tournament.
“It all just came together for me on that second day,” said Hodges, who by 9am had a limit to rival his overnight weight. A couple of late upgrades pushed Hodges over the magic 5kg mark and onto the top position on the podium.
Hodges chose to target shallow sandy banks, but keyed in on those featuring scattered weed and timber. “There wasn’t a lot of timber, no full trees or large laydowns. It was more the scattered logs lying on the bottom that would provide a bit of cover for the fish in shallow water,” said Hodges.
His lures of choice were predominantly the Berkley Puppy Dog, which accounted for most of his tournament limit. Hodges also caught fish on a Cultiva Selection 55 minnow.
The retrieve was textbook black bream fishing, twitching and pausing the lure with the fish predominantly eating it on the pause.
Hodges turned to the new ABU Garcia Salty Stage KR-X Light Casting SSKRSXLC 6101XL. “They are the perfect rod for bream twitching, they have a fast recovery but still have a forgiving mid-section, which stops me from pulling hooks.”
He paired the rod to another new product from ABU Garcia, the MGX 20 spinning reel. “The MGX is just the perfect reel for what I do, it’s light enough to use and cast all day. It balances perfectly with the rods and the drags are just insanely smooth.”
Hodges thanked his long-time sponsors Pure Fishing Australia, which under them have the household brands like Berkley and ABU Garcia. He credited Lowrance for their continued support and Savage Trailers for the newly built cradle for his beloved Savage.
The WA native that now calls Victoria home, Charlie Saykao showed he is definitely one to watch for the future. After a brilliant fifth place finish at Mallacoota, Saykao backed it up finishing second to the fast finishing Hodge.
Saykao found his fish on the pre-fish day not by actually fishing for them, but by simply driving through the area and visually looking for the fish. “I drove through the area known as ‘The Cut,’ which is the second entrance to the Mitchell River,” said Saykao.
The first day started and Saykao actually missed his preferred two areas, as other boats had beaten him to them. So he returned to the cut and started fishing through the snags that litter the entrance to the river.
Saykao targeted the snags with a popular lure on the ABT BREAM Tour, a 2.5” ZMan GrubZ rigged on a Decoy Nailbomb 1/32oz jighead. The light, weedless jighead allowed Saykao to fish the lure slowly through the snags, keeping the lure in the strike zone for the longest time possible.
His catches came steadily and it was a case of slowly upgrading as the day wore on. Finishing the day with 5/5 for 4.35kg would put him in fourth position overnight.
Returning to the same area on day two, Saykao again fished the snags around The Cut with the same successful technique from day one. Fortunately for Saykao, it all went to plan on day two. His third and fourth fish in his 5/5 limit both came off the same snag and both pushed over the 1kg mark.
Saykao had the area to himself, which he said was key to his success. “I think the reason I did so well was because I was the only boat in the area, occasionally a boat would come into the inside of the cut and fish some snags but they luckily wouldn’t stray too far into where I was seeing the fish.”
The hard and fast ‘white knuckle’ fishing style Saykao employed required some hefty tackle, and his equipment choice reflected that.
Saykao relied on a Millerods Bream Buster Brawler rods to get the fish out of the snag, and to also present the plastic accurately and quietly. He paired the short powerful stick with a Daiwa Luvias 2004 reel, spooled with 6lb braid and 6lb Yamatoyo leader. “There is no better leader out there than Yamatoyo as far as I’m concerned,” said Saykao.
With the second place finish Saykao secures himself a start in the Costa BREAM Grand Final to be held on St Georges Basin in early December of this year. Here the winner will take home a brand new BassCat/Mercury package valued at well over $50,000.
2015 non-boater AOY champion Stuart Walker won the Mercury presented round of the Costa BREAM series with a 9/10 limit weighing 5.45kg.
Starting day one fishing with Chris Gates, Walker found himself at the mouth of the Tambo River to start the morning. With only one fish in the well after two hours the pair decided to move around and try some flats, but that move proved fruitless and the pair eventually returned to the wharfs and jetties around Metung. Walker turned to the ever-reliable Cranka Crab to catch three extra keepers to compile his 4/5 day-one limit.
Day two Walker fished with Grant Kime, and found him-self fishing the mouth of the Mitchell River for the entirety of the tournament session.
“We motored in probably 200m from the mouth and deployed the electric, Grant spot-locked us there and we didn’t really move all day,” said Walker. The fish turned on from 10am until 11am where it was almost a fish every cast for the pair. It was a process of slowly upgrading in small increments until eventually he had amassed a 5/5 2.81kg limit.
Walker relied on fishing a 2.5” ZMan GrubZ in motor oil colour rigged on a 1/12oz jighead that he slowly hopped off the bottom to produce his bites.
After sitting in 7th position overnight, a kilo behind leader Nathan Leicht, Walker assumed he was out of the running to take the win, but was surprised at the challenging day a lot of the overnight leaders seemed to have.
Walker relied on the new Daiwa Silver Wolf rods and reels to bring his fish into the net over the weekend. Noting the sensitivity of the rods allowed him to feel every little bump and bite. He spooled the reels with 6lb braid and 4lb or 5lb leader. After the heartbreak of losing good fish on day one around the wharfs and jetties of Metung, Walker upped his leader to 5lb for day two and landed every fish he hooked.
Walker now is in the hot seat to defend his Power-Pole Angler of the Year title and go back-to-back in 2016 as he sits in 11th place after the first two rounds.
Austackle Big Bream
Shaun Clancy claimed the Austackle Big Bream at Gippsland Lakes, catching the prize-winning fish on a Jackall Chubby in amongst the snags at Hollands Landing on day one.
Rod: ABU Garcia Salty Stage KR-X Light Casting SSKRSXLC 6101XL
Reel: ABU Revo MGX 20
Line: 6lb Berkley Nanofil
Leader: 4lb Berkley Sensei flurocarbon
Lure: Berkley Puppy Dog, Cultiva Selection 55 Minnow
Hodges went against the pack and fish the less pressured, less known North Arm at Lakes Entrance to catch his fish.
|1||Brad HODGES||10/10||9.46||$2270 + Duff Rods Big Bag + $250 Mercury bonus|
|2||Charlie SAYKAO||10/10||8.73||$1520 + $ 150 Mercury Bonus|
|4||Braddley YOUNG||10/10||7.96||$870 + OSP Toray rookie|
|5||Daniel MACKRELL||10/10||7.55||$750 + Yamaha bonus|
|7||Warren CARTER||10/10||7.11||$550 +$100 Mercury Bonus|
|1||Stuart WALKER||9/10||5.45||Prize Pack + $35 Hobie bonus + 1st Pro|
|2||Clint VOSS||9/10||5.24||Prize Pack|
|3||Jesse ROTIN||9/10||4.72||Prize Pack|
|4||Nathan LEICHT||7/10||4.66||Prize Pack + $25 Hobie bonus|
|5||Jim BARRIE||7/10||4.17||Prize Pack + $15 Hobie bonus|
|6||Ben DODMAN||8/10||4.15||Prize Pack|
|7||Michael HODGES||6/10||3.86||Prize Pack|
|8||Clint NORTHCOTT||8/10||3.84||Prize Pack|
|9||Mick THOMPSON||4/10||3.54||Prize Pack|
|10||Tomas MCINTOSH||5/10||3.39||Prize Pack|