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McKinnon creels in Glenelg fish feast
  |  First Published: April 2006



Perfect conditions and active fish greeted anglers for the first Victorian round of the 2006 Ford Courier BREAM Series, the Mercury Glenelg River BREAM Challenge. The size of the field was a state record – 87 competitors in 44 boats – but Stuart McKinnon from Warrnambool beat them all to claim his first BREAM qualifying event victory.

Stuart McKinnon, a 38-year-old outboard mechanic, compiled a 10/10, 6.23kg two-day limit that saw him finish the weekend $2,500 richer and on his way to the 2006 Ford Courier BREAM Grand Final in October.

Hot on McKinnon’s heels, and challenging him right until the end, was second-placed boater Wayne Friebe of Mornington. Friebe compiled a 10/10, 5.72kg limit to secure the $1,000 runner-up prize.

Winning tackle and techniques

McKinnon spent the duration of the tournament targeting the edge-dwelling fish located between Taylors Strait and the SA border stretch of river.

“You could actually see the fish rolling and feeding along the rocky edge and drop-offs,” McKinnon explained. “I caught them along the sheer face of the edge and ledges, and in the timber scattered along the shoreline.”

With a 6” Berkley Gulp Sandworm (camo) as his lure of choice, McKinnon cast tight to the edge before working it down the face of the ledge to the waiting fish.

“The fish would take the plastic anywhere, between where the lure first touched down on the edge, out to about 3ft from the bank,” McKinnon explained. “Once the lure was past this mark I cranked it back in and made another cast.”

This edge bite and shallow presentation saw McKinnon opt for a lightly weighted offering, choosing a TT HWS (size 1/0) as his preferred jighead.

“The TT HWS jighead played a big part in being able to present the lure subtly and thoroughly through the strike zone,” he explained. “It allowed me to tempt those fish that may have been a little more intimidated by a faster sinking plastic.”

Adding larger fish to the livewell was as important as ever, and McKinnon achieving this by focusing on the larger snags that he came across.

“The bigger fish, as you would expect, took up residence in the best locations,” he said. “It was here that I found those precious kicker fish that you need to shoot you up the leader board.”

McKinnon’s tournament winning tackle included a 2.1m, 2-4kg, Mick Rantall custom rod, Penn Applause reel, 6lb Berkley Fireline and 6lb Famil leader. And because he won the event using TT jigheads, McKinnon secured a $500 TT Lures Sponsors Bonus to his bounty of rewards from the event.

Event runner-up Wayne Friebe, like McKinnon, targeted edge-dwelling fish located upriver of the tournament start line. Fishing the stretch between Taylors and Donovans, Friebe opted for a hard-bodied approach to fill his livewell each day.

“The fish were on the edges and they were active,” he said, “so I wanted to give them a presentation that would get in their face and push their buttons.”

The presentation involved casting his Ecogear SX40 (colours – 303, 309 and 339) crankbait hard up against the rocky edge before beginning a slow twitching retrieve back to the rod tip.

“Casting accuracy was so important,” he said. “If it was even 4 inches off the mark you could forget it. You had to get it tight against the edge of the cliff and shoreline where they were holding and feeding.”

While using pauses and twitches in the retrieve was important, presenting and retrieving the lure parallel to the shoreline was perhaps even more critical.

“Doing this allowed the lure to swim through the strike zone for longer and for a greater distance than if I had cast and retrieved the lure perpendicular to the bank,” Friebe explained.

This approach saw him boat approximately 70 fish on the first day and 25 on the second.

Friebe’s choice of gear included G.Loomis DSR 820 rods, Shimano Stella 2500 spin reels, 8lb Berkley XDS Fireline, and 6lb and 8lb Berkley Rockfish fluorocarbon leader. He also replaced the trebles on his SX40 crankbaits with Owner ST36BC size 12 trebles, which provided the sharpness required to maximise catch rates.

The non-boater category was a close battle, with the title of champion non-boater being claimed by Jordan Trusty, with a 9/10, 4.57kg bag.

For the 16-year-old student from St Kilda, victory came from a productive crankbaiting technique that saw him presenting his lure tight against the rocky shoreline to the waiting fish.

Fishing with Stuart McKinnon on day one, and day one leader Byron Blain on day two, Trusty found the going easy, using his highly polished casting skills to carefully tempt and extract fish from the tough Glenelg shoreline.

“Spotting the fish feeding and then sight casting to them was great fun this weekend,” he said.

In compiling his tournament winning bag Trusty used a 6’ Daiwa Heartland Z rod, Daiwa Certate 2000 spin reel, 4lb Berkley Fireline and 6lb Momoi leader.

Living up to its reputation, the Glenelg River produced many 1kg+ fish for the tournament, with the Go-So Big Bream eventually going to a 1.45kg specimen captured by local Steve Bacon of Timboon. Falling to a rainbow coloured 3” Gulp Minnow rigged on a 1/32oz Pigs Jigs jighead, the 1.45kg blue-nose came from the lower end of the system and provided Bacon with a welcome $500 addition to his 9th placed boater prize cheque.

The Mercury Sponsor Bonus continued its popularity for the year, with 2nd placed boater Wayne Friebe picking up the $200 bonus as the highest placed Mercury user.

For information on upcoming qualifying rounds in the 2006 Ford Courier BREAM Series visit www.bream.com.au or phone ABT on (07) 3268 3992 or 0427 326 464 during business hours.

Facts

Top Ten Boater Results

Place Angler State Fish Weight (kg) Payout
1 Stuart MCKINNON Vic 10/106.23 $2500
2 Wayne FRIEBE Vic 10/105.72 $1000 + $200 Mercury Bonus
3 Adam TODD SA 10/105.39 $850
4 David WELFARE NSW 10/105.22 $700
5 Kevin TORMEY Vic 10/104.88 $500
6 Nathan MCKERNAN Vic 8/104.65 $350
7 Shaun CLANCY Vic 10/104.63 $300
8 Darren BORG NSW 9/104.26 $200
9 Stephen BACON Vic 6/104.21 $150 + $500 Go-So Big Bream
10 Andrew MOSTERT Vic 9/104.17

Top Ten Non-Boater Results

Place Angler State Fish Weight (kg) Payout
1 Jordan TRUSTY Vic 9/104.57 Angler DCX rod + Tica reel + Prize Pack
2 Tim ATKINS Vic 7/104.07 Pflueger rod + Tica reel + Prize Pack
3 Theo CONNELL-CARLY Vic 7/103.53 Shimano rod + Prize Pack
4 Scott LEWIS Vic 7/103.41 Nitro Power bream rod + Prize Pack
5 David ORSINI Vic 6/102.85 Prize Pack
6 Tony SCHROEDER Vic 6/102.81 Prize Pack
7 Stephen VAIL Vic 6/102.73 Prize Pack
8 Nathan ALSOP Vic 5/102.47 Prize Pack
9 Michael WHITE Vic 6/102.32 Prize Pack
10 Matthew CAMPBELL Vic 5/102.28

[CAPTIONS]

1. The biggest turn out for a Victorian ABT event yet – 87 competitors in 44 boats.

2. Stephen Bacon’s 1.45kg bream was the biggest bream of the competition. It took a rainbow coloured Berkley 3” Gulp Minnow rigged on a 1/32oz Pigs Jigs jighead.

3. Stuart McKinnon won the event and $2,500 by compiling a 10/10, 6.23kg two-day limit. He targeted bream that he could see rolling and feeding along the rocky edges and drop-offs.

4. 16-year-old Jordan Trusty from St Kilda won the non-boater section with a 9/10, 4.57kg bag of Glenelg bream.

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