Batemans bay hosts national BREAM showdown
  |  First Published: September 2003

BATEMANS BAY, at the mouth of the Clyde River, will be the venue for the 2003 BREAM Grand Final on the October long weekend.

Apart from the wet, squally conditions encountered in the first round of the NSW BREAM tournaments this year, the Clyde was found to be a great venue for a tournament. The locals loved hosting one of these events and were more than accommodating to the hordes of anglers who showed up.

The Clyde River encompasses a wide variety of bream habitat and offers anglers the chance to fish the type of territory they are most familiar with. The event has all the ingredients for a top competition: Some of our country’s top anglers; a large, diverse river system with a challenging (temperamental) bream population, and a local contingent happy to welcome the BREAM fraternity.


The BREAM 2003 Grand Final will follow the usual competition format. Eight anglers from WA, Victoria, NSW and Queensland will fish two seven-hour sessions over consecutive days, targeting bream with artificial methods only. All fish caught over the weekend will be returned to the water alive following completion of the competition.

The fish will be kept in the new, very large Reef Science tank for the duration of the competition – this makes for a great attraction for kids, so bring them along for a look. Anglers are allowed to take five legal fish per day, upgrading as they go (replacing the smaller fish with larger ones). The angler with the largest total weight will be the 2003 BREAM champion and will take home a fabulous Quintrex Hornet. The only difference between the grand final and State round tournaments is that anglers will be fishing with an observer in the boat, rather than a non-boating angler.

The organisers of the tournament are always on the look-out for observers so if you are keen to spend a day or two with some of our country’s best anglers in action, this is your chance. To grab a spot simply call Steve Booth on (07) 3268 3992 and he will fill you in on all the details.


The Clyde River should offer anglers a good chance of taking trophy fish. The sessions will encompass largely the run-in tide. Although local anglers often favour a run-out tide, the timing of the sessions will give anglers a chance to fish rising and falling tides.

The majority of Clyde bream have been taken from the oyster leases and floating structures. When fishing the racks in the Clyde, good fish are often taken when the water level sits just on the racks. One benefit of the tide timing during the tournament will be that in the space of a session, the tide should be able to inundate and then expose the tops of the racks.

By fishing racks in varying depths of water you can often get a good hour or more of action before the racks are submerged or dry. Sometimes it may take several racks to find one that is holding fish. You also get a chance to fish different depths of water and quickly identify if the fish are holding deeper or shallower.

I have found some of my best fish in the Clyde of late have come from racks in from 50cm to 1.5 metres. With the water lapping at the racks, the fish seem to lose inhibitions and feed more aggressively. It is often not hard to put several good fish in the well in half an hour.

Although most fish have been taken lately on natural colours, presentation seems to be the most important ingredient. If your cast clips the side of the rack as it hits the water, then you are in the strike zone. If a cast lands as little as 15cm away, the lure may often be rejected.

Another technique that has produced fish has been flicking plastics around the floating structures on the river. The floating racks have fished well in low light. Fishing the snags in the upstream environs has also produced a few bream and plenty of estuary perch.

The river offers a wide range of bream habitat to suit anglers fishing different systems. Typical bream haunts include rock walls and drop-offs, small creeks and backwaters, snag-ridden banks, oyster racks and extensive weedy flats.

As locals such as Dean Dawson will testify, the fish can be found in any of these haunts but they have a tendency to move around. If we experience large tide ranges, the fish can move around even more. Anglers prepared to try areas that they may not necessarily be used to fishing could reap the rewards in unconventional places. Trent Butler proved this on the shallower bends of the Clyde early in the year and Chris Metcalf, in the Gold Coast event, found fish sitting in deeper water around channel markers.

Typically in October, the bream are starting to move back into the estuary. Anglers could expect to find sea-run yellowfin bream between the mouth and Big Island. The black bream tend to stay in the upper reaches of the Clyde, above Nelligen, throughout the year.

The anglers who use the pre-fish day to explore all the options may well cotton onto a successful pattern. This could be very important to take a handy early lead. Such are the issues the tournament anglers will need to think through prior to putting a boat in the water.


I find it difficult to pick a favourite for the grand final but there are some I would expect to give it a nudge.

As usual, Tim Morgan will be the one most other anglers will be keeping an eye on. He only just missed out on winning the Clyde round this year and will be keen to take some revenge on Trent Butler, who just pipped him at the post.

If I was picking a trifecta, Kevin Gleed would get a place on my card. ‘Captain Kev’ has proven his worth in environs very similar to the Clyde. He is a master in the snaggy stuff and I have heard on the grapevine he has been doing very well in the snags at Tuross, so he should have his eye in.

Trent Butler will be the Andrew Johns of the tour (except for the big forward build!). He mastered the Clyde earlier in the year, and the Narrabri boy will be well-supported by a strong local NSW crowd. One can only hope he has recovered from his case of ‘tournament pox’ which he caught from Jason Medcalf at the Taree MegaBREAM.

Steve Starling has to feature highly on any form guide. He has been narrowly beaten at the post a few times this year and the grand final would be a timely place to make his winning presence felt. He has a great knowledge of the area and its fish, which has to count strongly in his favour.

Lance Sulkowski is another angler who has had a good year. He is one of the quiet achievers of the circuit and one would expect to see him, and others, like Chris Wright, Andrew Howard and Ian Miller, vying for places. These guys all featured well at the early Clyde round.

If the form guide at this point seems to have the makings of a big, ugly forward pack, then the inclusion of Natalie Grima should greatly even this out. Natalie is the first female qualifier in the grand final. She has qualified through being a non-boater all year and it will be great to see what Natalie can do in her own boat.

It will be great to see the eastern anglers competing with WA anglers such as Geoff Spadacini and Peter Van Schoubroeck. It will definitely be great to see so many anglers from different corners of Australia competing on the same waterway.


The Batemans Bay region is a great place to holiday. The area caters very well for the tourist and Eurobodalla Shire is very active in promoting this as a place to stay and enjoy. The weather should be comfortable and there are a good number of quality beach and fishing spots nearby.

There are a number of good hotels and motels in Batemans Bay and surrounding areas. The Coachhouse Marina Resort is hosting the grand final briefing and offers discount accommodation for ABT members. If you are after accommodation right at the main boat ramp and weigh-in area there are several motels, such as the Bridge Motel, in this area.


If you are keen to do some fishing in the area in October, Dean Dawson from Malua Bay Takeaway believes there will be many options available.

There should be a few big flathead about and plenty of salmon and tailor off the beaches and rocks. The rocks should still be producing some good drummer and if the fishing is at all like last year, the first few kingies should start showing up.

In the Clyde, there are usually a few estuary perch moving at this time of the year. I expect we will see a good number of these fish as by-catch during the competition.

The grand final weekend should make for a good social event. There will be anglers from all States and a good number of observers as well. The Reef Science tank will make for a good spectacle, as will some of the boats owned by the competitors. Some of these craft are works of art and need to be seen to be believed.

If you are in the region and are keen to see how these tournaments operate, drop in for a look. If you have any questions, hassle a few of the competitors when they have a free moment. Most of these guys and girls are good at sharing their learning and, ultimately, it is this attitude that makes these tournaments so worthwhile.

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