Under clear skies and spring-like conditions, a record field of 80 boats headed off into the Hawkesbury mist on day one to begin the E-Tec Hawkesbury River BREAM Challenge.
Andrew Howard, a 38-year-old carpenter from Taree, lived up to the ‘horses for courses’ saying, matching his excellent rack fishing abilities to the expansive paddocks of oyster racks littered throughout the Hawkesbury River system.
Compiling a 10/10, 5.67kg limit to the scales Howard showed a clean pair of heels, relegating the fast-finishing Matthew Kelly to second place.
For Howard it was a long overdue win, evolving from a well calculated game plan established during the pre-event prefish.
Spending his tournament time in the oyster leases around Bar Island, Howard searched for fish holding in the structure with a combined attack of soft plastics and hard-bodied lures. Concentrating on the flooded racks, Howard presented his soft plastic by swimming it across the top of the racks and into the path of the fish.
“The retrieve was fairly standard,” Howard explained. “I tweaked the plastic at the start to get their attention, then followed it up with a slow rolling retrieve. After that it was just a matter of hooking the fish, then getting it out.”
Howard’s technique for fishing hard-bodied lures involved a slow rolling retrieve over the flooded racks that netted him even more bream.
Howard collected $3000 and gave him a much sought-after berth into the 2005 Triton BREAM Series Grand Final.
When it came to tackle, Howard’s choice in lures was dominated by Berkley and Ecogear. His soft plastic choices alternated between the 3” Bass Minnow (smelt), 3” Power Hawg (watermelon), and the 3” Gulp Minnow (pumpkinseed). His choice of hard-bodied lure was the Ecogear SX40 (golden perch).
His rod and reel outfit was a 6’9” Millerods Bream Buster and Shimano 1000 Stradic when fishing soft plastics, and a 6’7”Millerod Bream Brawler and Shimano 2500 Sustain when opting for hard-body presentations.
Howard’s line choice was Berkley Fireline in 4lb (soft plastic) and 6lb (hard-body), with his choice of leader being 10lb (soft plastic) and 14lb (hard-body) Yamatoyo Razor fluorocarbon. The other distinguishable strength in Howard’s terminal tackle was his choice of jighead, with his much-loved 1/16oz Bassmaster jigheads providing him with all the confidence and pulling power he needed.
Second place boater and event runner-up Matthew Kelly proved that the racks were the place to be for the weekend. Opting for a hard-bodied approach, Kelly focused his attention on the oyster racks in the Bar Island area. He cast his lure perpendicular to the boat and across the racks before retrieving it back across the trays and hopefully into the waiting mouth of a hungry bream.
Kelly’s favourite lure was an Oar Gee Lil Rippa (pink with black back) fished from a 781 G.Loomis rod, Shimano 2500 Stradic reel, 6lb Fireline and 20lb Berkley fluorocarbon leader. One small tinkering Kelly made with his tackle was the addition of Gamakatsu trebles to his lure.
The non-boater division saw Sydney local and ABT regular Bill Parasiris capture his first title win. Paired with Kris Hickson on day one and Andrew Howard on day two, Parasiris used his boaters’ ability to locate fish to compile a tournament winning, 9/10, 4.66kg tournament limit.
The Go-So Big Bream title changed hands many times throughout the weekend before being claimed by Brendon Hughes for his outstanding 1.37kg specimen. Wrestled from the oyster racks of Moonee Moonee Creek the fish fell to a 3” Berkley Bass Minnow and was the best example of the bream on offer in the Hawkesbury River System.
The next event on the BREAM calendar is the Mercury Albany BREAM Challenge in WA on April 16 and 17. For more information visit www.bream.com.au or phone Simon Goldsmith during business hours on 0427 326 464 or (07) 3268 3992. – ABT