Carter claims coast and AOY
  |  First Published: October 2016

Victorian BREAMer Warren Carter stamped his name on the Power-Pole Angler of the Year title in emphatic fashion, winning the final qualifying event, the Berkley Gold Coast BREAM Qualifier. There’s certainly no better way to guarantee an AOY victory than by winning the final event. With six anglers in contention going into the final event, Carter knew exactly what everyone needed to improve their tally.

With one of the largest playing fields on the ABT calendar, anglers could spread out from as far north as Mud Island in Moreton Bay, all the way to the upper reaches of the Nerang River.

“At times in this tournament, we would have had anglers over two hours apart from each other by boat, that sort of thing rarely happens in ABT events and it’s why the Gold Coast is such an exciting place to hold a BREAM Qualifier,” said ABT Tournament Director Simon Goldsmith.

With the forecasted winds not eventuating until late on day one, Moreton Bay was cleared for exploration for the first session, and that’s exactly where Carter exploded out of the gates to take the overnight lead.

“I spent most of my pre-fish day exploring Moreton Bay,” said Carter, “I fished all of the southern bay islands and didn’t find much that excited me, so I travelled to Mud Island and caught three nice fish and decided that was enough for me to make the hour and 20 minute run from the start line.”

Carter arrived at Mud Island and was greeted by a low tide, with much of the shallow reef exposed. Carter turned his attention to the steep reef edge where he began his day fishing a mixed assortment of deep diving crankbaits.

“I really understood how much the tide influences the fish in Moreton Bay. Almost all of the water I was fishing later in the day was high and dry, those fish have to move somewhere so naturally I assumed they would be on the reef edge waiting for the tide to rise.”

His day went almost perfectly to plan, apart from losing one good quality kilo class fish halfway through the session. He quickly remedied with the tournament’s Austackle Big BREAM, a 38cm fork Moreton Bay special.

Throughout the day, Carter continued to adjust to the rising tide. Initially moving to the inside edge of the main drop off, he then continued over the shallow flat finishing right up on the mangrove line as the session ended with a high tide.

His technique was straightforward and perfectly suited to targeting fish that are looking to feed in the shallow water when the tide allows.

“I relied solely on a slow rolled crankbait on the first day, it allowed me to cover a lot of water and got the attention of plenty of bream the first day. I alternated between three different lures: a deep Cranka Crank, deep Jackall Chubby and a Smith Camion Dredge,” said Carter.

Carter fished the fat profile crankbaits on 11lb Varivas Max Game braid and 5lb Varivas Absolute fluorocarbon leader. He favoured an EDGE Black Widow 702 rod, rated 4-8lb and paired it with a Shimano Stella 2500 reel.

With Moreton Bay shut to anglers on day two due to high winds, Carter’s game plan flew out the window. Visibly shaken by the news his newly found honey hole would be unavailable, Carter threw caution to the wind, opting to travel almost the same time in the opposite direction to access the bridges of the upper Nerang River.

“I’d spoken to my good friend Cam Whittam about where he was fishing, because my limited experience on the Nerang left me with only a few spots up my sleeve, and Cam had been fishing some of those spots. So I decided to replicate what I’d done in the past and just apply that same technique in different areas.”

Not wanting to intrude on his good friend, Carter travelled into Lake Intrepid, and targeted all the bridges throughout the upper canal system with heavy Cranka Crabs. “The first bridge I pulled up to I had a legal on the second cast, so that sort of set the tone for me for the rest of the day, I spot hopped from bridge to bridge, and slowly filled a respectable bag for the canals.”

Carter would target the small eddies formed on the down current side of each bridge pylon. The heavy weighted Cranka Crab would fall down the pylon and often Carter would get hit on the drop or almost as soon as it hit the bottom.

“You don’t have to do too much when fishing the Cranka Crabs, the lure does most of the work for you. You have to get it in the right spot and pay attention.”

As it turned out, his 5/5 2.36kg limit only just scraped Carter clear of second placed Ross Cannizzaro by a mere 40g. Carter took home the $500 Austackle Big BREAM prize, along with the $2,100 first place cheque and $250 Mercury Bonus.

He thanked Brick Pig Business Coaching for enabling him to better manage his successful Carter’s Roofing business, allowing him more down time to travel and fish as many ABT events as possible. Competing in both ABT BASS and BREAM competition means Carter is one of the busiest tournament anglers in the country. He also thanked his other sponsors, Minn-Kota, Humminbird, Edge Rods, Smith Ltd, Varivas and Tonic eyewear.

Ross ‘Canal’ Cannizzaro

For someone who’s been fishing ABT tournaments for a long time, Ross Cannizzaro travelled north to the QLD double-header to ensure he qualified for the upcoming Costa BREAM Grand Final on St Georges Basin. Having seen the title slip through his fingers at the Hawkesbury River in 2014, Cannizzaro is out for revenge, and the waters of St Georges Basin offer as good a chance as any for the highly regarded angler to take the ultimate title.

With only limited experience from one prior visit to the expansive waterways of the Gold Coast, Cannizzaro decided to eliminate water that was at the extremities of the tournament venue.

“I didn’t even know where to begin when it came to Moreton Bay, and likewise up the Nerang River, so I stayed in the broadwater for the entire tournament. Where I knew the channels and speed zones, and wouldn’t eat into my tournament session by travelling long distances.”

An experienced structure fisherman spending so much time on the structure-laden waterways of Sydney Harbour, Cannizzaro was comfortable in amongst the plethora of pontoons, pylons, jetties and boats scattered throughout the broadwater. But it was two specific areas with increased current flow that garnered most of his attention. “I caught so many fish throughout the three days of this tournament, on pre-fish day I would have easily caught 80 or more fish. But there were two distinct areas, Sovereign Island and Runaway Bay that seemed to hold better than average fish, and even with my little experience on the Gold Coast, I knew that a bag of 28-30cm class fish was well and truly above par.”

Focusing on these two areas, Cannizzaro went to work with his Abu Garcia arsenal, focusing on hitting the deepest and darkest sections of each pontoon or boat, where he knew few others would spend the time or have the skills to present a lure to the bream lurking beneath. “I had to be really creative in some instances to get a lure where I thought there would be one sitting, occasionally even busting out the bow-and-arrow cast to get a lure into a tight gap.”

Identifying early on that the fish were responding much better to a lure with a very slow fall, Cannizzaro trimmed up, lightening his jighead selection from a 1/24oz Nitro to a 1/50oz Nitro Hidden Weight, which when paired with the ever faithful Gulp Camo Craw offered an irresistible slow sink that Gold Coast bream just couldn’t ignore.

“Day one I probably caught close to 50 fish, it was one of those magical days that everything just goes right. My non-boater Mark Lawson said to me that my bag would challenge those that travelled the long distance to Moreton Bay and I was surprised to be that far up the standings after the first day.”

With the bay closed on day two, Cannizzaro knew he stood a good chance of running down those in front, with a solid plan in place and a good supply of fish, it was only a stroke of bad timing that might have possibly cost him the victory. “It was late on the second day and I’d miss-timed my run back to Runaway Bay, the tide had risen and there was a real off-coloured water clarity throughout most of the canal, but there was one probably 100m stretch of clear water with fish loaded under every pontoon. At that stage I had a bag of 26 and 27cm fish, and in the last 20 minutes, I upgraded every single fish I had. With an extra 10-20 minutes to fish the last of the stretch of pontoons, I think I would have scraped up the extra 40g I needed.”

Cannizzaro’s key bait was a cut-down Berkley Gulp Craw, in camo colour, which he threw on a 1/50oz Nitro hidden weight jighead. He threw the offering on a slightly shorter 6’10” Abu Garcia KRX Salty Stage rod, which he favoured for the accurate casting he desired. He paired the rod with the matching Abu Revo MGX 20 reel, which he spooled with 4lb Berkley Exceed braid and topped it off with a 4lb Berkley Sensei Fluorocarbon leader.

Cannizzaro was classy in defeat, offering praise to all anglers who backed themselves to compete at the highest level of tournament bream fishing. He put a lot of his recent success to having his family accompany him on the trips away from home. With a much shorter drive from his base in Sydney to this year’s Costa BREAM Grand Final on St Georges Basin we’re all expecting big things from Cannizzaro, this could be the year he puts his name on the Grand Final trophy.

Rocket Rod’s day two rally

Rodney O’Sullivan stormed home on day two of the Berkley Gold Coast BREAM Qualifier to back up his runner-up finish from the previous weekend’s event with a win to round out the almost perfect northern swing.

O’Sullivan found himself with the local gold, as he drew QLD locals Mick Torley and Nabeel Issa, two boaters with arguably more experience on the Gold Coast than anyone else in the field.

Starting day one with Torley, the pair headed left out of the start at Southport to a set of canals around The Southport School in the lower reaches of the Nerang River. While Torley had a bag early, O’Sullivan struggled to unlock the secrets of fishing as a non-boater in a waterway like the Gold Coast.

“When you’re confronted with a scenario like the Gold Coast, it can be tough to figure out how to catch them when you’ve got a red-hot boater up the front having first crack at all the pontoons,” said O’Sullivan.

With no fish in the well by midday, O’Sullivan changed his approach, rather targeting the various boat ramps and sandy patches between the pontoons, completely ignoring the obvious structure that attracts almost all of the attention.

“I managed to scrape up four fish in the last few hours throwing Ecogear Aqua Bream Prawns in salt and pepper into the gaps between the pontoons. It’s not a technique I’ve fished a lot and it took me a while to adapt to how best to approach it fishing from the back of the boat.”

Weighing 4/5 for 1.76kg, O’Sullivan found himself in 6th place with a number of anglers hot on his tails.

Day two dawned a much sunnier day and fortunes looked bright as the first stop of the morning was the deep water of the Seaway where O’Sullivan feels a lot more at home. “Starting deep in the Seaway was a much more familiar style for me,” said O’Sullivan. The pair went to work on the deep water, adding a number of good quality fish to their bags in quick succession.

An experienced deep water fisherman, O’Sullivan relied on a heavy Cranka Crab fished slow and deep to draw the bites. O’Sullivan also lathered the bait in Liquid Mayhem scent, which he believed helped draw fish back for a second or third attempt if they initially missed the hooks.

With three solid fish in the bag including two genuine Gold Coast kickers, the pair made a move to some canals and O’Sullivan was quick to use the same technique he’d unlocked the afternoon before to fill his bag. With the tide now well and truly on the run-in, O’Sullivan continued to target the boat ramps, and sand patches between each of the pontoons, where he was noticing the bream moving up as the tide rose.

His second cast at a small boat ramp produced his fourth legal, which set the tone and gave him the confidence to continue with the technique.

It didn’t take long for him to put together a five fish limit, and ended the day with a number of small upgrades that pushed his 5/5 limit to 2.55kg, the biggest bag from a non-boater across the whole tournament. He secured the win by over 600g from runner-up Mark Lawson.

O’Sullivan delivered his lures on his brand new Samurai Reaction 203 rod that he took home from the Austackle Clarence River BREAM Qualifier only a few days before. He paired the new rod with a Shimano Stradic Ci4 2500 and spooled the reel with 9lb Yamatoyo Resin Sheller PE and chose a lighter 3lb Yamatoyo Fluorocarbon leader. “I definitely noticed I was getting more bites on the lighter 3lb line than on the 5lb I was originally using,” said O’Sullivan.

He now looks forward to the upcoming Costa BREAM Grand Final that himself and his son Zac O’Sullivan have both qualified for through the Costa BREAM Series set for St Georges Basin in December.


1Warren CARTER105.71$2100 + $500 Austackle, $250 Mercury 1st
2Ross CANNIZZARO105.67$1,100
3Tony MOORE105.62$950 + $300 Yamaha Bonus
4Steve ELDRED105.36$700
5Tristan TAYLOR105.32$550
6Alex ROY105.09$450 + $150 Mercury Bonus 2nd
7Russell BABEKUHL105.02$350 + $100 Mercury Bonus 3rd
8Ben RICHARDS104.96
9Tom SLATER104.89
10James HOWARTH104.861st Pro ($200)
1Rodney O'SULLIVAN94.31Costa Prize Pack
2Mark LAWSON103.76Samurai Prize Pack
3Paul MAZAROLI103.71Berkley Prize Pack + 1st Hobie Bonus
4Jonathan THOMPSON103.71Spotters Sunglasses + Prize Pack + 1st Pro ($200)
5James MORGAN83.23Tonic Sunglasses + Prize Pack + 1st Hobie Bonus
6Mark PALAZZI93.20Prize Pack + 1st Hobie Bonus
7Christian WARDINI83.13Prize Pack
8Brett WATSON82.89Prize Pack
9Mathew BACIC82.84Prize Pack
10Joe ALLAN72.72Prize Pack

Winning Ways

Taking advantage of the clear weather on day one allowed Carter to make the most of an open Moreton Bay arena. Catching the tournaments biggest limit set up an early lead that turned out to be unassailable. His diversity shone through on day two, fishing almost two hours by boat away from where he’d spent most of his pre-fish and all of the first day of the tournament. Catching his 10/10 limit from two very different locations earned him not only the title of Berkley Gold Coast BREAM Champion, but also the very coveted and highly regarded Power-Pole BREAM Angler of the Year.

Winning Tackle

Rod: Edge Black Widow 702 4-8lb

Reel: Shimano Stella 2500

Lures: Cranka Crank Deep, Jackall Chubby Deep, Smith Camion Dredge

Line: Varivas Max Power PE 11lb

Leader: Varivas Absolute Fluorocarbon 5lb

Austackle Big BREAM

Carter’s 38cm fork fish claimed the Austackle Big BREAM award. Carter caught the brute on the shallow reef flats of Mud Island, on a slowly retrieved crankbait banging into the reefy bottom. “The deep diving lures actually snag up less in the shallow water, the extra diving angle keeps the trebles away from the reef more so than a shallower diver would.”

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