I have definitely started to think that I am in some way responsible for bringing the weather jinx to BREAM tournaments this year.
All tournaments I have attended this year have suffered adverse weather in some way. The Clyde certainly tested anglers’ ability to fish in consistent rain and the final day at Forster was cancelled due to strong winds. Hailing from Parkes, Steve Morgan asked me at Forster if I had bought along the same winds that threatened to blow down The Dish once upon a time.
Similar to The Dish incident, the weather leading up to the change at Forster was fabulous and those during the pre-fish and day one enjoyed some great weather. I attended the pre-fish day with Jason Medcalf in his new Polycraft. I got to test out a great new boat as well the type of fishing we were likely to experience in the tournament. I was very impressed with the Polycraft, so much so I think I might get one. Watch future issues for boat reviews on the 4.1-metre Challenger series.
The fish tested us out on the pre-fish day, when we got some good fish but had to work quite hard. Seeing Tim Morgan at 9:30am with his limit already in the well reminded us that we were definitely up against it in the following days. Tim, as usual, was good to share the fact that he had taken all his fish on 2” Atomic brown Crawdad grubs on 1/16oz jigs. Moving up the river quickly showed us how murky the water was farther upstream. The fish were still there, however, with a few legal bream taken and a few classic Forster bust-ups.
Moving back downstream with the falling tide, we noticed how much the water was clearing upstream with the tide running out. It seemed a bit back to front, but there were plenty of fish around the interface between clear water and the murk. We took fish from the oyster racks in the now very clear water and noticed that with increased tidal flow, previously spooky fish were becoming more receptive to plastics.
With several legal fish each, taken on a mixture of 2” plastics and hard bodies, we were feeling better about our chances the next day. We took these fish slowly retrieving and shaking hard bodies along the faces of racks and by finessing plastics around the racks. Most fish were taken on natural-coloured 2” single-tail grubs on 1/16oz jigs which were hit on the drop or on the first few shakes after hitting the bottom.
I drew Cameron Nunn as a boater for Day One and he was quick to let me know that this was his first tournament as a boater and that I was free to fish anywhere around the boat and to let him know of my thoughts on where we might find fish. It’s always good to draw boaters with this type of open attitude – it makes for a much more enjoyable day on the water.
Day One dawned with weather about as good as you could hope to see. Clear skies and almost zero wind all day gave us no excuse for a lack of fish in the well. Cameron and I opted to fish upstream in the murky water and then work our way back towards the entrance. With little joy upstream, we fished our way back to the Forster Quays area, where Cameron put the first keeper in the well.
We then opted to fish the weeded sand flats for a short while, where Dave Welfare had had some joy the previous day. Dave was still fishing the area and although we dropped a couple of fish, we decided to leave it to him and move back to the racks.
The tide had started to move along and the racks in the clear water started to produce some fish. I was working a plastic down the face of a set of racks lying behind the outside rack (always a bit suicidal) and had an absolute monster cruise out and inhale the jig. I gave it to the fish early on, only to have it swim back towards us and under the rack in front. Releasing all pressure on the fish until the boat was in a good position to lead the fish out, had me with the upper hand again but the hooks pulled with the fish gradually coming back boatside. It really hurts when you drop such a good fish before you have put any in the well!
The next 30 minutes did a lot to lift my spirits when I was able to put two fish in the well. Unfortunately the good bite soon shut down and, try as we might, all we could pick up was several flathead. Our time ran out too soon, as it always does, and so ended our day with only three fish in the well. All fish were taken on natural-coloured plastics fished slowly on 1/16ozh heads. All fish sucked in the plastic on the drop.
The weigh-in results suggested that it had been a tough day for most of the field, with only a few anglers boasting a limit. Tim Morgan showed why he earns the title of favourite for most of these tournaments by taking the lead with a great bag over 3kg. Tim took all of his fish on 2” Atomic Brown Crawdad grubs. He moved with the tide, following the interface between the clear and dirty water and fishing any racks and other structure available.
Dave Welfare was another who did very well on Day One. He shunned the racks to fish the sandflats above the bridge. Using 2” plastics and a quicker style of retrieve, Dave and his non-boater, Josh Batterson, weighed in their limits.
This has been the second tournament where anglers thinking outside of the square have recorded good results. Trent Butler won the Clyde tournament by deciding to ignore the racks and bankside structure typically targeted by anglers in the BREAM tournaments. He opted to fish the shallow flats away from all other anglers and employed an erratic, lift-and-drop retrieve with 2” Lunker City grubs. Results like these certainly have given other anglers something to think about.
Mother Nature unleashed her fury on Forster early on Sunday. Competition anglers arrived at the boat ramp to find 40-knot winds and three subdued organising Steves (Booth, Morgan and Bain) calling a halt to proceedings. The weather showed little signs of abating and in the interest of safety and in what the majority of anglers believed was the right decision, the rest of the competition was cancelled. The results stood as they were following Day One and Tim Morgan took out the honours.
Following cancellation of Day Two competition, Jason Medcalf decided to test out the Polycraft in some choppy conditions. I went along for the ride and was thoroughly impressed with the smooth way these boats handled the rough stuff.
While we were out boat testing we passed Dave Welfare’s chosen sand flats of Day One and simply had to have a cast. Positioning the boat upwind, we drifted down over the flats casting 2” white Bass Assassins. With the wind behind us, we were able to peel off extremely long casts. We worked the shad-style plastics in quick, stop-start, erratic retrieves similar to those employed when chasing trevally. We mounted the plastics on Nitro jig heads, which are perfect for this style of retrieve. We took 15 or so keepers in 40 minutes’ fishing and, given the conditions, thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I think we will be hearing more of similar types of techniques before long.
Heading back to the ramp in some particularly rough chop, we agreed the decision to cancel was correct. Boats any smaller than the Polycraft would have been in a bit of bother. With the NSW rounds out of the way, our attention goes to Queensland with second round at Bundaberg.
Jason Metcalf about to release an average Forster bream taken during the pre-fish day.
The author, left, and Steve Booth, one of the event organisers prior to releasing another average Forster specimen.
A fabulous Forster morning greeted the fleet of 60-plus boats on Day One of the Forster leg of the 2003 BREAM series. Little did they know what the weather would bring the following morning.
Tim Morgan takes First place in the Forster 2003 BREAM series as well as taking out the NSW Angler of the Year award.Reads: 845