Perfect weather prevailed for the 10th running of the Twin Rivers Bream Classic on July 22 and 23. The competition’s buzzword was catch and release and future events will definitely see more anglers weighing in fish that are itching to get back into the water.
A total of 688 anglers, up from 553 last year, saw the Nicholson and Johnsonville boat ramp car parks full for most of the two days. Many anglers set up tents and camps next to the Nicholson and Tambo rivers and some fished day and night while stoking campfires.
The heaviest single bream was weighed in by Ian Gullock at 1.6kg. Mathew Holley, Neil Mooney, and Andrew and Michael Smith took out the heaviest team bag of bream for the whole comp of 8.44kg for eight fish. That means each fish averaged over 1kg. This was the second year running that these fellas took out this section, narrowing their success down to using fresh black crab. It was also a great effort to see the boys free most of the big fish they caught after weighing in.
Anglers using popular bait and shrimp had the most success over the two days. Frozen prawn was also a hit and I watched one group of anglers land plenty of decent-sized bream from the bank not long after sunrise. Sharnee Stott and Noel Williams were having plenty of fun in the Tambo, their team, Slanty Shanty, had a triple hook-up within minutes of casting their prawn baits. This team from Swan Reach also chose to catch and release for the entire comp.
A special mention needs to be made of the incredible efforts by all the Fishcare volunteers. The participating anglers noted their tireless presence and because of their assistance, the catch and release section was a success. Although I entered the comp as a competitor, I was more than happy to spend most of my time assisting with tagging the bream – it was the least I could do. I take my hat off to the admirable efforts of the dedicated volunteers; their input for the weekend was highly regarded. I’m sure the head of Fishcare, Tonia Stokes, was very pleased with the tagged and released bream numbers, which doubled last year’s tally – 80+ fish were tagged this year. Tonia has every right to be proud of her team. More information about the group can be found on their website.
The lure fishers did it extremely tough over the two days and only a minute percentage of fish weighed in were caught on soft plastics or hard bodies. Robert Harvey was certainly the exception and managed to have at least eight fish tagged before release, all caught on soft plastics. He was fishing out of an impressive new $40,000 Triton flat top boat, thanks in part to winning the non-boaters section of last year’s ABT BREAM grand final.
Bruce Robinson from Team Alpine Country nailed a nice estuary perch and bream on small Juro hard bodies. Bruce said plenty of endless searching and casting was needed to find a fish. He also commented on how the discoloured waters in the higher reaches of the rivers probably did not help the lure anglers. Shawn Swain, a 13-year-old lure fanatic, caught a beautiful 40cm bream on a Berkley soft plastic and had the fish tagged before release.
Scientist Daniel Grixti from PIRVIC was also in attendance for the comp; he was extracting otoliths from over 100 bream that will now be aged. Daniel and a team of assistants, including Alan Rogers and Dianne Crookes, were kept busy with a constant stream of fish donated by anglers for the cause. The aging of the Gippsland Lakes bream stock is vital in assisting decisions about bag and size limits, and provides great insight to the health of the fishery.
The aging facility down at Queenscliff will now be busy, and expected to turn out some interesting results.
Incredible arrays of prizes totalling around $30,000, were awarded to many sections of the comp including: colour TVs, power tools, generators, and fishing gear. Every winning angler was able to choose from the list of goods, with some lucky teams picking up multiple prize packs.
Mark Guthrie won the tag and release draw and Ian Gullock walked away with a new Shimano rod and reel combo for his heaviest bream. Team Nine won several categories of the comp including the catch and release draw, and took home numerous prizes including a sound system and power tools. Andy Sosinski from Melbourne won his share of the spoils for donating his fish for the otolith collection.
There were several other species landed for the weekend. Mullet were found right throughout the rivers, with the odd flathead, trevally and estuary perch making an occasional appearance. I didn’t hear of any carp being caught, which is definitely a good sign.
Local gun fisher Andrew Martin was again the perfect emcee for the event and kept the crowd informed and in order during the final presentations.
The winding up the two-day event saw the last and most anticipated part of the comp – the raffle draw for the three major prizes. Steve Hine from Johnsonville was the lucky ticket holder and took away the first prize, a Jayco caravan. Funnily enough Steve didn’t weigh in a single fish, he failed to even score a bite. This is why the Twin Rivers Classic is so popular – you don’t have to catch fish to come away a winner. Second and third prizes for the raffle were a plasma TV and a digital movie camera.
I was a first timer at this competition, and I can already see the contest is on its way to becoming a popular catch and release event. It should also be mentioned that the two days were exceptionally well organised and those behind the scenes are to be highly commended. It was most rewarding to witness these keen anglers getting together and having fun. Sometimes we forget that we deserve it.Reads: 4073