THE FIRST day of May saw us on the highway heading south to Forster to compete in round two of the NSW event. After packing the kids and picking up fellow tournament angler Scott Bromly and his wife, we started the long haul from Bundy. After a 15-hour drive we finally checked into the SunCoast Holiday Park in Forster.
My pre-fish partner for the Friday was Nigel Webster. Nigel is a writer for NSW Fishing Monthly and had travelled from Parkes in western NSW. We launched my new Polycraft Challenger at the boat ramp at Paradise Marina and decided to start fishing the leases and flats in that part of the lake. Nigel was the fist to hook up and was quickly dusted around an old rusty pipe. We moved around, working from oyster rack to oyster rack, landing plenty of flathead and pike but no legal bream.
As the morning wore on we decided to move further upstream looking for some willing fish. As we drifted over the weed beds in gin-clear water we saw plenty of bream darting around, but they were pretty hard to tempt. We headed for the racks again and soon found some fish receptive to our offerings. We landed a few nice bream on plastics, and I had some great hits and landed one on a Dan McGrath hard body. We left the area knowing that the fish were there and biting on a number of presentations.
We stopped closer to the mouth to fish a rack that had had three boats on it earlier. The fish went nuts – I nailed a nice bream, and then Nigel pulled a kilo fish that had an absolute monster follow it out to the boat.
Further along I saw some fish siting in a backwater behind a wave wall (these are used to protect the racks and are like a timber fence). I cast over the timber and watched as a bream homed in on my plastic. As the lure disappeared I saw a flick in my line and I struck the hook home. As I hit it and got its head facing me, I gave the fish heaps and it came flying out of the water and over the timber. Trouble was, I had no chance of winding in all the slack line before the bream made it home, so I just grabbed my 4lb Fireline and hand-lined the fish into the boat. Nigel thought this was highly amusing – but you gotta do what you gotta do!
Barclays Marine in Forster was the venue for the briefing, and they have a great shop with lots of goodies for boaters and anglers. The staff are very helpful and they also put on a great BBQ.
Once again it was revealed that this event was now the biggest ABT BREAM tournament yet held, with 63 boats competing. The organisers proposed a staggered finish to accommodate the numbers and not cause too many traffic jams, and this was unanimously accepted as a good idea.
In the random draw, I drew Mike Colles as a fishing partner for the first day and Adam Douglas for the second. We organized a meeting place and then headed off for a bit of sleep.
There was plenty of interest in my new bright green Polycraft at the harbour, and after plenty of chatting and ‘good luck’s, off we went. Mike told me he had caught a few fish pretty close by, so we hit his spot first.
Under the power of the MinnKota electric we worked along a section of a wave wall using soft plastics Mike got the first fish – an undersize bream – and then hooked an unstoppable that did him in the oyster rack. I wish the action for the session had stayed that hot, but it didn’t! I worked all the places that had held fish the day before, but all I did was donate gear to the bream gods. I pulled hooks out of fish, got dusted by fish in the racks, and just plain had a shocker.
Mike, on the other hand, landed two legal bream. He did lose a few as well, but having those two in the well was a real bonus.
After fruitlessly trying different spots and different lures my time ran out. As it turned out, the fishing was pretty hard all round with not many five-fish limits at all.
Once again, popular and talented Queenslander Tim Morgan was in the lead, with five nice fish all taken on his favourite 2’’ Atomic Fat Grub in the brown Crawdad colour. Tim is an amazing talent and a great guy, and he shared his technique with a huge crowd that was very responsive to the whole tournament show.
The rest of the top ten was made up of the regular names – Steve Starling, Andrew Howard, Trent Butler, and Chris Wright.
Unfortunately, the second day of the event was called off due to a nasty 40-knot gale that turned up through the night. Tim ‘The Bream’ was declared the worthy winner and the NSW grand final team was announced. Young Jesse Lomas picked up Big Bream with a thumper of 1.54kg, which is equal to John Schofield’s monster of last year.
Nigel and I decided we had travelled too far not to have one more fish before we left, so I put the boat in back at Paradise Marina. This was out of the wind and safe as long as we stayed out of the main channel.
Nigel had heard of fish being caught across the flats on plastics, so we decided to give it a go – after all, there was plenty of wind on the water and cloud cover. I rigged a Nitro 1/8th Bream Bullet with a 2” curly shad Saltwater Assassin in the rainbow trout colour. I was trying to cast over weed beds wind quickly and then let them drop into sand patches. I found that the bream started attacking the lure as I worked it quickly across the weed.
It only took 15 or so minutes to put five legal bream in my well, and then Nigel finally cracked and asked me for the same rig. He rigged up the same as me and instantly started into them as well. I upgraded a couple of times and had a good bag of bream. It was all on the wrong day, but great fun anyway!
Overall, I enjoyed the trip, learned a lot, met some more great guys and had an absolute blast in my new boat. If you see me (you won’t miss the green Polycraft) come and say g’day.