Fishing Monthly’s own Steve Morgan has claimed victory at the Mercury Marine Gippsland BREAM Qualifier, the second stop of the 2017 Costa BREAM Series.
Morgan has enjoyed his fair share of tough fishing on the Gippsland Lakes in the past, with the Queensland-based BREAMer struggling to forget three consecutive donuts during the wind-shortened 2013 BREAM Grand Final.
2016 was slightly kinder, with Morgan bagging out the first day, but the plague of tournament fishing crept up, when he could only catch a small limit during day two.
“I’ve learnt here in the past that fish at Paynesville don’t last. I learnt that last year and although I caught good fish there during pre-fish this year, I also saw plenty of other boats hitting the spots. I wasn’t going to make that same mistake again so I looked for similar structure back towards the start at Metung between the pub and Lakes Entrance and hardly saw another boat all tournament.”
“I also talked to fellow Queenslander James Howarth, who I shared accommodation with last year. We both caught good bags on day one in 2016 and joked that we had enough fish between us to win the event.”
His plan played out to perfection, with Morgan not only claiming a wire-to-wire victory, but also taking the Big Bream prize for his 1.55kg kicker from day one.
For Morgan it was a case of fishing to his strengths, and coming from the urban waterways of southeast Queensland, fishing artificial structure like jetties, pontoons and oyster encrusted poles is right up his alley. Morgan used the same technique and approach on both tournament days, and relied heavily on one lure to complete his 10/10 9.75kg limit.
“A heavy Cranka Crab in olive colour was the standout lure. Even if the water was shallow I’d throw the heavy. The key with fishing a crab and probably the difference between myself and my non-boaters who struggled with the technique was making sure the crab sunk on a slack line vertically straight down the structure.
“It’s a very similar skill to what I learnt throwing stick minnows many years ago. You need to lay the line down to allow the crab to sink straight and not pendulum away from the structure on a semi slack or tight line. If it sinks like that it looks unnatural, and when these bream are this big and this old, they don’t get to that stage without being pretty smart.”
Morgan targeted any artificial structure between Metung and Lakes Entrance and put together two consistent bags of thick and heavy Gippsland bream. So confident in the lure was Morgan that he didn’t have anything else rigged up.
“I’ve worked out a system now that I probably should have a long time ago. Pre-fish day I lost five crabs, so that night I spent probably more time rigging up than I ever have before, and I proceeded to tie on heavy crabs to rods ranging from 2lb straight through Yamatoyo spinning fluorocarbon, through to heavy braid and 10lb leader. When I’d approach something like a moored boat, I’d opt for the 2lb or maybe 3lb leader. If I was faced with the nastiest pontoon you’ve ever seen, I would ditch the light tackle and pick up the heavier stick with up to 10lb leader.”
Having rods ranging from 2lb, through 3lb, 4lb, 5lb, 6lb, 8lb and 10lb leader let Morgan choose the best chance of first getting the bite, then having the ability to extract the fish once it had been hooked.
Once hooked, Morgan would opt not to pump and wind the fish to extract it from the structure. “I always would rather use the electric motor to gently steer the fish out. The harder you go on them, the quicker they bury you in the structure, so it would always be a case of guide the fish out with the electric, then pump and wind once it was clear. If a fish did get me around a rope or pole I’d immediately back the drag right off, and go in close to try and gently guide the fish back through the maze and into the net.”
For his effort, Morgan pocketed the $3300 winner’s cheque, the $500 Big Bream, the 1st place Mercury Bonus cheque and the Duffrods Big Bag for his day one 4.94kg limit.
Taking up where he left off, the current 2016 Power Pole BREAM Angler of the Year Warren Carter started strongly with a 3rd place finish at the BKK Mallacoota BREAM Qualifier, and he’s now backed it up with a runner-up at the Mercury Gippsland Lakes BREAM Qualifier to again be sitting joint atop the Power Pole Angler of the Year race with Mario Vukic after two rounds.
Whenever the Costa BREAM Series visits Victoria, Warren Carter is always a name that pops up as one to watch at the bump tubs. He has a habit of winning and is certainly showing no signs of letting up on his quest for back-to-back Angler of the Year trophies.
Seeing fish in Gippsland Lakes is never the problem, and after venturing a few hundred metres into the mouth of the Tambo River on pre-fish day, Warren knew there would be enough fish there to grind out a limit both days of the tournament.
It was a venture back to the old school for Carter during the two tournament days, as he sunk tight to the rocky banks of the Tambo River and jerkbaited his way to a 10/10 9.26kg limit. “It was a return to what I do best, old school twitching hardbodies on the banks. You really can’t get better than that on the Gippy Lakes.”
Carter turned back to an old faithful, the Smith Jade in ayu colour to get quick bags in the Tambo River both mornings. He used an Edge Black Widow 701 rod to cast and impart the perfect action on a seriously lightweight lure.
“The Smith Jade is a light lure, but with the right rod it casts just fine. That Edge 701 is perfect; the action I can impart with that soft tip is incredible and second to none in my opinion.” He matched the Edge up to a 2500 size Shimano Stella, which he spooled with 15lb PE0.8 Varivas braid and 4lb Varivas fluorocarbon leader.
Both afternoons Carter ventured out of the Tambo River to exploit the afternoon winds for bigger bites on the flats adjacent to the entrance of the Nicholson River. On day one this approach proved perfect, upgrading with his second biggest of the day at 1.07kg on a Smith DD Panish. Unfortunately during the second day, the wind never played the game for Carter’s favoured spots and the big bite he needed never eventuated.
Carter now takes the joint Power Pole Angler of the Year lead into the next rounds, the Western Australian double-header. Carter is committing whole-heartedly this year, and making the journey across our country to back up his win at the Blackwood River in 2015. With the WA double coming up, Carter is going to be a hard man to topple again for the AOY crown in 2017. Only time will tell.
Darren Weda claimed victory by a healthy margin after two days competing on one of the largest and most diverse locations visited every year by the Costa BREAM Series. Weda’s 10/10 8.14kg limit was more than enough to edge out non-boating veteran Simon Johnson to second place.
Weda started his assault on Gippsland Lakes with none other than Warren Carter, and the pair quickly identified a game plan that would have them both able to be competitive. “Warren was fishing up tight to the bank with the hardbody, so I worked out on the initial drop-off and secondary drop-off with plastics and blades,” said Weda.
Noticing the abundance of small baitfish in the entrance to the Tambo River, Weda opted to match the hatch as best as possible. He rigged up a ZMan 2.5” Slim SwimZ on a 1/12oz jighead, which he fished slow off the bottom, hopping it back to the boat. Weeding his way through bag fillers, Weda managed a couple of kicker fish throughout the day to end with just over 4kg sitting in third place.
“It was probably good for me to not be leading, to be honest. I would have been pretty nervous taking the lead into the final day, but being in third probably made me fish slower and more relaxed, knowing the pressure was on the guys ahead of me not to falter.”
Day two saw Weda paired with the current number one ranked BREAM angler Mark Crompton and it was going to be a completely different day fishing over 50km away from the previous day’s hotspot.
“Crommo had located fish down at Holland’s Landing and I knew the big ones lived there, so I rigged up a heavy outfit with a weedless plastic to try and get the fish out of those shallow snaggy edges.”
Weda’s outfit consisted of a Daiwa GenBlack Albino rod, matched with a 2506 Daiwa Certate spooled with 12lb braid and 8lb leader. He rigged a ZMan 2.5” GrubZ weedless on a Decoy Nailbomb jighead to throw into the gnarliest country he could find.
“I managed three good fish from Holland’s before the bite shut down, then Crommo moved back to the Nicholson flats and I managed to fill my bag with two legals which ended up being plenty enough to leapfrog the guys in front of me.”
Darren’s victory saw him walk away with a brand new pair of Costa 580 sunglasses and a stacked prize pack full of the best breaming gear from all of ABT’s sponsors.
The event Big Bream was joint between boater champion Steve Morgan, and Andy Parkinson for a truly behemoth 1.55kg specimen. Andy Parkinson caught his pig on the Nicholson River flats, while Steve Morgan extracted his from a pontoon not five minutes from the event’s start line at Metung. The tales of the big one that got away haunted many at Gippsland like they always do, which just proves what a special fishery the Gippsland Lakes are for bream.
Steve Morgan also claimed the Duffrods Big Bag for his day one 4.94kg limit. Catching 12 legals for the day and not losing one fish is going to mean a big bag in Gippsland more times than not. Each Duffrods Big Bag winner receives a personally crafted Duffrod made especially for the venue at which it was won by 2006 ABT BREAM Grand Final Champion Steve Duff.
The winning tackle was a Nordic Stage Artis rod paired with a Daiwa Steez 2004 reel, Berkley Nanofil 4lb line and 6lb Yamatoyo Chinu Harris fluorocarbon. Morgan’s lure of choice was a Heavy Cranka Crab in olive colour. – ABT
|1||Steve Morgan||10||9.75||$3300 + $500 Big Bream (1.55kg) + 1st Mercury Bonus ($250) + 1st Pro ($100)|
|2||Warren Carter||10||9.26||$1400 + 2nd Mercury Bonus ($150)|
|4||Kristoffer Hickson||10||8.51||$1000 + 3rd Mercury Bonus ($100)|
|9||Tom Slater||10||7.73||$500 + Yamaha Bonus ($300)|
|1||Darren Weda||10||8.14||Costa Sunglasses & Prize Pack|
|2||Simon Johnson||10||7.35||Costa Sunglasses & Prize Pack + 1st Hobie Bonus ($100)|
|3||Clint Voss||10||7.3||JML Alliance Rod & Prize Pack + 2nd Hobie Bonus ($50)|
|4||Nick Penprase||9||6.77||Prize Pack + 3rd Hobie Bonus ($35)|
|5||Michael Hodges||10||5.92||Prize Pack|
|6||Stuart Walker||9||5.81||Prize Pack|
|7||Shaun Egan||9||5.64||Prize Pack|
|8||Jack Healey||5||4.55||Prize Pack|
|9||Jesse Rotin||8||4.49||Prize Pack|
|10||Allan Murray||8||4.47||Prize Pack|