Forty-three year old metal buyer and fanatical Perth-based BREAM angler, John-Paul Cronin, stunned a struggling field with a magnificent 4.25kg, five fish bag to take a come-from behind win the first WA Triton Boats BREAM qualifier for 2005.
The Mercury Albany BREAM Qualifier was held in trying conditions, with the arena in flood merely two weeks before, but Albany showed glimpses of its potential with several sensational specimens of black bream – including David Beer’s GoSo Big Bream of 1.59kg.
Sneakily, John-Paul let the other anglers weigh-in, including a lead-grabbing bag of 2.33kg from local tackle store owner, Jim Allan, before hauling his second-day limit to the weighmaster through a crowd of awe-struck competitors. And as such, Cronin proved that a first day donut is no obstacle when an event experiences challenging conditions.
In fact, John-Paul was ill enough on the first day to consider not fishing the second – a decision he’s glad he didn’t make.
John-Paul landed all five of his bream using ultra-finesse retrieves under the King River road bridge. Using a single-tailed pumpkinseed 2″ Berkley Gulp on a Bassmaster #1 round ball heavy-wire jighead, he’d position his boat upstream of the bridge and hold position in the current. He’d cast to the leading edge of the structure and let the bait drift down with the current with no angler-imparted action. Very occasionally, he’d move the rod tip three or four inches to twitch the bait on the bottom.
“If I saw the line move, I’d pick up the slack and feel for the fish. If it felt something there, I’d then give the fish another six inches of line and if they took it, I’d then set the hook,” JP explained.
It was then that his Millerods 6’9″ Classic Bream Buster coupled with a Shimano Stradic 1000FH kicked into action. It was spooled with 6lb Squidgy Braid and 8lb Vanish leader.
“I managed to land five of the nine bream that I hooked this way,” Cronin continued, “those big bream [including his biggest of 1.30kg] take some stopping in that structure.”
And although he described the winning feeling as ‘pretty good’, his beaming smile described his first ABT Qualifier win with much more precision.
Jim Allan had every right to be confident with his 4/5 2.33kg bag that he weighed on day two – especially considering that the Pro leader on day one bagged less than a kilo of fish – but JP’s last minute heroics did little to dampen his enthusiasm.
Jim caught all of his bream in very shallow water in Oyster Harbour’s extensive flats, targeting areas where he knew bream had been recently feeding.
“When I came across some really fresh ‘digs’ (where bream had been nosing in the sand for food) I knew that I was in the right area,” Jim said, so I used our standard flats fare, small hard bodied lures, to catch my fish quite late in the session.”
Jim favoured a custom painted OarGee Lil’Rippa and King Brown coloured Halco LazerPro45s and Scorpion52s and landed bream to 1.22kg within his limit.
“The secret is to wind the lures as slowly as possible after casting them as far as you can – that lets you cover the most water effectively,” Jim divulged.
He used a custom Samurai 002 spin rod coupled with an Okuma 20 Avenger reel, 6lb Fireline and 3.2kg Platil fluorocarbon leader.
A long-time local in the area, Jim was disappointed that Albany showed only a glimpse of its best.
“There were a few nice fish weighed here this weekend, but those rains really put the bream off the bite. The flats and river fishing here in the south-west can be stunning, and hopefully a BREAM event will co-incide with better conditions in future years,” Jim concluded.
David Beer needed only one cast to see what Albany breamin’ is all about, landing the GoSo Big Bream of 1.68kg on the second day.
The second West Australian qualifying round of the Triton BREAM Series will be held in Perth on April 23-24 – call Simon Goldsmith on 0427 089 879 to organise entry. – ABT.