A weekend of typically variable Victorian weather greeted 38 boats, and 76 anglers for the second running of the Special Trailers Gippsland Lakes BREAM Challenge.
Under increasingly trying and frustrating climatic and angling conditions, one angler proved he had the jump on the conditions, and the rest of the field to capture the winner"s cheque and the title of 2005 champion.
Steve Steer, a 34 year old resident of Golden Valley in Tasmanian showed that bream fishing excellence isn"t solely confined to mainland Australia, but extends across the Tasman and into the apple isle.
Delivering a, 4/10, 6.09kg, tournament bag to the weighmaster, Steer"s impressive bag featured an average fish weight of 1.5kg, and featured the event"s, 1.64kg, Go-So Big Bream winning fish.
Finishing strongly, and only 100 grams behind Steer was last event runner up, and newly crowning Victorian BREAM AOY, Chris "˜Slick" Wright. While managing to put more fishing in his well for the tournament (7/10, 5.99kg), Wright struggled to find, and land fish of the size to threaten Steer"s four tournament winning lunkers.
For Steer it was an event that involved the perfect execution of a game plan established during the Friday prefish. During which he spent his time in the Mitchell River, polaroiding fish, spotting them in the snags, rolling around and giving away their presence with their tell tale flash of their gold flanks.
Leaving them untouched and having not made a cast, Steer returned on day one of tournament with the objective of putting a few in the well. The plan proved to be more difficult to execute than create, with Steer only having three busted ups to keep him in company on his trip back to the weigh-in.
A last-ditch stop inside the Nicholson paid dividends, with Steer picking up a fish that would get things rolling for him leading into day two. The 1.64kg specimen proved to be a sign of things to come, with Steer returning to the Mitchell the following and picking up were he left off.
Now in the zone and confident of what was required, Steer began the task of putting fish in the well. Working his way along the bank, he focused his attention on the biggest and nastiest snags.
"I was looking for timber in deep water that big fish would want to hang out in", Steer explained.
"Size of the snag and the depth was the main thing I was looking for, but the other key ingredient I found was that there needed to be growth hanging of the timber", he further added.
The cracking of the habitat pattern was the first piece in Steer"s big bream puzzle. The second and all important piece that Steer found was the need to present his offering tight against the snag.
"If the lure didn"t land right next to the snag you were wasting your time", Steer explained.
"Thankfully I"ve spent a bit of time tournament casting, so I was able to repeatedly get the lure were it needed to be", he further added.
Once there Steer would drift the lure in under the snag, and into the path of waiting fish. The takes in most cases involved a subtle initial touch. Steer would then feed the lure back to the fish, encouraging a second and at times third touch before securing the all important hook-up.
Steer"s lure of choice in the process was from the increasingly popular Berkley Gulp range. The 3" Minnow in pumpkinseed colour proved the standout model, with Steer rigging it on a 1/32 oz Nitro Jigheads. Light and understated in weight, the jighead featured a size one hook, and presented the plastic to the fish in a well balanced and subtle manner.
The remainder of Steer"s tackle was based around his rod and reel outfit, comprised of a Mad Dog customised 7", 2-4kg, G.Loomis rod, matched to a Shimano 1000 Sustain FD reel, spooled with 4lb fluro Berkley Fireline, and topped of with 6lb Siglon flurocarbon.
Following his victory Steer elaborated on how he compiled such an impressive bag.
"Coming from Tassie, where the bream are XOS definitely helped this weekend. I had a good idea of the kind of places that I"d find big fish, and once I found them it was just a matter of hooking and landing them. Thankfully it all held together", he further added.
Trying to rain on Steer"s parade was event runner up Chris Wright. Confined to the waters of the Nicholson River on day two due to a crack in his boat, and extreme conditions in the main basin of the lake, Wright spent his time targeting the snags in the upper reaches of the system.
Noticing that most anglers fishing the Nicholson were focusing on the deep water snags, Wright decided instead to fish the untouched snags located in the shallows. The perceptive observation paid off for Wright, delivering over four kilos to the weighmaster at the final weigh-in.
The great final day bag was enough for Wright to overtake Steve Starling"s sensational 5/5, 4.60kg second session limit, relegating him to third place, and thoughts of what might have been.
For Wright it was a continuation of an already fantastic year that saw him add the Victorian BREAM AOY title to his second placing from this year"s Bing Lee BREAM Australian Open.
When quizzed post event Wright explained the approach he took and the technique he used to compile his tournament limit.
"On Sunday the approach was fairly straight forward. I"d flip the plastic right up in shallows, then give it two quick twitches near the snag, a small pause, then two more quick twitches", Wright explained.
"I was basically trying to replicate one of the injured mullet you see amongst the schools that work the shore line and the snags", he further added.
Wright"s lure of choice in completing this injured bait fish replication came in the form a 70mm Squidgy Flick Bait (colour- Evil Minnow). The other important ingredient in the mix was the use of one of Wright"s growingly infamous "˜Resin Heads".
The remainder of Wright"s tackle included a Millerod Bream Buster (6"9"), Shimano Stella 1000, 4lb Squidgy Braid, and 8lb Berkley Vanish.
The non-boater divison saw 34 year old Warrnambool resident, and Rod Builder, Michael Rantall take his first podium position at an ABT BREAM event.
Delivering a kilo plus fish to the scales each day Rantall compiled a 2.52kg tournament bag to take victory.
Fishing with Rudy Holzfiend on day one and Stuart McKinnon on day two Rantall spent his tournament fishing the snags that line the shore of the Tambo River.
Utilising the ever-popular 3" Berkley Bass Minnow (colour- pearl olive) the process was relatively generic, cast the lure in close to the snag, then work it through the zone. For Rantall the process delivered him a Millerod, a Team Daiwa TDA Spin Reel and potential most rewardingly, a berth into the 2005 Triton BREAM Series Grand Final.
Rantall"s choice of tackle included a 7" custom built Rantall rod, Shimano Symetre 2500 reel, 6lb Fireline, 6lb Siglon leader, and 1/24 oz Nitro jighead.
The 2005 Triton BREAM Series continues is journey around the country travelling to the expansive waters of Sydney"s Hawkesbury River on 9th and 10th April for the next qualifying round of the series. For more information visit www.bream.com.au or phone Simon Goldsmith (07) 3387 0888 (b/h), 0427 32 64 64 (b/h).