Cameron Whittam has taken out the Costa Mallacoota BREAM Qualifier with a 10/10 fish limit weighing 8.56kg. The Victorian stalwart of the BREAM series took home $3,400, plus a new pair of Costa sunglasses and the $250 Yamaha owner’s bonus.
Whittam started day two in 7th place and made a strong move throughout the session, weighing in the biggest limit of the second session by a considerable margin. Whittam targeted the shallow flats of Mallacoota where he looked for rock or weed.
“Mallacoota has changed a lot over the past few years, a lot of the weed has died off and subsequently the areas the fish hang out have changed. You need to find a rocky or weedy substrate where the bait has somewhere to live, and once there’s bait in an area the bream won’t be far behind.”
Whittam was on the fish all weekend, and caught 30 legal-sized fish on day one where he predominantly spot-hopped and ‘junk fished’ his way to 3.85kg.
“If I was in America I would have said I was junk fishing,” said Whittam. “Essentially, I had a large milk run of spots on day one and I fished what was in front of me. If I came to a spot that I thought looked promising I would give it six casts and then continue to move.”
Whittam narrowed down his productive areas on the second day, and locked in to produce a hefty 5/5 limit at 4.71kg, enough to take the win by 190g.
“The first day I predominantly caught yellowfin bream,” said Whittam.
Whitam’s day two bag almost entirely consisted of black bream, which contributed to the heavier weight of his bag. Whittam noted that a tip off from his non-boater catching two fish behind him keyed him into an early lure change to guarantee success.
“My non-boater actually caught two fish in my dirty water on a Luckycraft Tango, so I threw on the Cultiva Mira Shad and caught a bag quickly, one of those remained in my final 5/5 limit.”
Whittam relied on his old trout fishing days to identify his key location, noting the wind was hitting the bank on an angle and swirling down and along. Whittam and his non-boater combined to catch ten legal fish off that one stretch of bank.
Every fish of Whittam’s 10/10 limit was caught from the bottom lake of Mallacoota Inlet, on a variety of baits. “I fished everything from blades, plastics and all sorts of hardbodied lures.
The ever-popular OSP Dunk 48 produced fish early for Whittam, who used a long 20ft, 3lb leader purely to get his lure as deep as possible.
“I don’t think I really needed the 3lb to get bites in a sense of the fish being line shy, it was purely to get the lure running deeper with thinner line,” said Whittam.
Whittam fished with 20ft of 4lb leader when throwing the Mira Shad or Jackall Chubby (Brown Suji). He would shorten that leader length to 10ft when throwing blades or plastics.
This marks Whittam’s fourth win in the ABT BREAM Qualifiers, a feat that only a select few can match.
“I think some people think that when you win a tournament it was with some secret tactic or lure, realistically though you don’t need to re-write the book on how to catch bream. Winning one of these events is about doing what you know works and what you’re comfortable with, and making the right decisions. For me this weekend, I made the right decisions and it paid off.”
Runner-up Jamie Mckeown travelled all the way from Queensland to experience the fishing that only Mallacoota can offer. He managed a 10/10 tournament limit that weighed in at 8.37kg.
Mckeown quickly found the pattern during pre-fish day catching key fish on a topwater pattern and throwing a small diving crankbait. Mckeown started day one fishing a flat around Cape Horn. The day started about as good as he could have hoped upgrading above 30cm forkers by cast number 12. The pattern Mckeown filled his bag with was a slight tweak on a regular BREAM tour favourite, fishing topwater with the OSP Bent Minnow.
Mckeown quickly found the fish responded to a subsurface lure technique, and twitched the lure between the surface and 12” underwater. After working the lure, Mckeown allowed the lure to float almost all the way to the surface, then recommence the retrieve just before the lure broke the surface.
The fish reacted and Mckeown quickly had a competitive limit in the well. Not wanting to pressure the fish for day two, Mckeown chose to leave the area and look for upgrades at a location in the bottom lake known as Goodwin Sands. The technique he used here was typical flats fishing – he threw the new Mimix Jelly Prawn crankbait on 2lb Famell spinning fluoro. His first drift over the area produced five fish but no upgrades, however the first cast of the second drift produced a nice upgrade and a 4.69kg bag saw Mckeown sit in second position overnight. Day two saw Mckeown return to his productive flat around Cape Horn, however a recreational fisher was parked right on the top of the flat he’d been fishing. With only two fish in the well by 10am, Mckeown moved around slowly and filled his limit fishing rocky banks. The wind picked up and Mckeown retuned to his productive flat and the fish responded with a number of small upgrades. Mckeown knew the size was not there so he returned to the Goodwin Sands area but couldn’t put that last upgrade in the live well. He returned to the stage with 3.69kg.
Mckeown’s preferred rod for both topwater and crankbaits was the new JML Perfection rod paired with a Shimano reel. He spooled his topwater setup with 11lb Yamatoyo Resin Sheller PE and topped it with a short 2ft section of Yamatoyo Monofilament leader. Mckeown prefers a straight-through fluorocarbon to fish crankbaits, and his choice for the Mimix Jelly Prawn was 2lb Yamatoyo Famell spinning fluorocarbon.
Mckeown took home $1,600 for his efforts and will be one to look out for when the BREAM tour heads north later in the year.
Blake O’Grady took home top honours in the non-boater division of the Costa Mallacoota BREAM Qualifier.
Fishing with Steve Morgan on day one, Blake used Bassday Sugar Deeps and OSP Dunk 48s to catch 15 legal-sized fish on the first day. The pair fished shallow early, and Blake capitalised with a couple of nice fish in the well early in the session. When the sun rose the pair moved deeper and Blake used a technique popular in Mallcoota.
“I’d stick my rod tip into the water, sometimes almost up to the reel to gain maximum depth, I also slowed my retrieve down so it was dredging the bottom on the slowest of slow rolls,” said Blake.
His efforts achieved 3.89kg on the scale and saw Blake sitting in third position overnight. Blake was paired with Darren Evans on day two, and he again turned to a deep cranking pattern to weigh 3.36kg and take out the title.
O’Grady relied on Samurai Reaction 201 and 101 rods, paired with Shimano 1000s, spooled with 10lb Unitika braid.
Austackle Big Bream
Craig Coughlan captured the $500 Austackle Big Bream Prize, securing the award on day two with a 1.54kg fish caught in the lower lake on the edge on a BR74 coloured Nories Laydown Minnow.
Rod: G Loomis TSR 862
Line: 10 and 12lb Sunline Castaway Braid
Leader: 3 and 4lb FC Rock Bream Special fluorocarbon leader
Lure: ZMan Grubz in bloodworm colour, OSP Dunk 48 in Z-37 brown craw, Jackall Chubby in brown suji and the Cultiva Mira Shad 50SP in ghost pearl ayu.
Whittam identified the best bream holding locations as the areas with wind, weed, and structure, and focused on these locations throughout the tournament.
|1||Cameron WHITTAM||10/10||8.56||$3400 + Costa Sunglasses|
|6||Chris SEETO||10/10||7.70||$800 + $200 1st Pro|
|1||Blake O’GRADY||10/10||7.25||Costa Sunglasses|
|2||Grayson FONG||10/10||7.15||Samurai Reaction Rod|
|3||Ben SHUEY||10/10||6.99||Berkley Pack|
|4||Clint NORTHCOTT||10/10||6.93||Austackle Featherlight Rod|
|5||Trent WEST||10/10||6.82||Prize Pack|
|6||Matt CUMMINS||10/10||6.77||Prize Pack|
|7||Kevin TORMEY||10/10||6.72||Prize Pack|
|8||Justin CONN||10/10||6.70||Prize Pack|
|9||Michael HODGES||10/10||6.65||Prize Pack|
|10||Alex FRANCHUK||10/10||6.63||Prize Pack|