Tournament Angler Guide 2017

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Tournament Angler Guide

2017abt calendar BREAM SERIES

The Costa BREAM Series returns in 2017 with Australia’s premier tournament bream series hitting the road mid in February and travelling across the country until it arrives at Lake Macquarie in early December for the biggest event on the bream calendar, the Costa BREAM Grand Final. Eight qualifying rounds will test anglers, with QLD, NSW, Victoria and Western Australian all playing host to events. Costa BREAM Qualifiers • Boater $250 • Non Boater $125

Franklins Australia BREAM Australian Open (Boater only) $500





18-19 Feb



Mallacoota BREAM Qualifier #1

22-23 Feb


Gippsland Lakes

Gippsland Lakes BREAM Qualifier #2

1-2 Apr



Albany BREAM Qualifier #3

5-6 Apr



Blackwood BREAM Qualifier #4

20-21 May


Manning River

Manning River BREAM Qualifier #5

16-17 Jul


Richmond River

Richmond River BREAM Qualifier #6

19-20 Aug


Gold Coast

Gold Coast BREAM Qualifier #7

30-1 Oct


St Georges Basin

St Georges Basin BREAM Qualifier #8

1-3 Dec


Lake Maquarie

Lake Maquarie BREAM Grand Final

25-27 Apr


Sydney Harbour/Hawkesbury River

Franklins Australia BREAM Australian Open





29-30 Apr 3-4 Jun 7-8 Jun 5-6 Jul 8-9 Jul 2-3 Sep 14-15 Oct 16-17 Sep


Hawkesbury River Cania Dam Boondooma Dam Lake St Clair Glenbawn Dam Clarence River Richmond River TBA

Hawkesbury River BASS Pro Qualifier #1 Cania BASS Pro Qualifier #2 Boondooma BASS Pro Qualifier #3 Lake St Clair BASS Pro Qualifier #4 Glenbawn BASS Pro Qualifier #5 Clarence River BASS Pro Qualifier #6 BASS Pro Grand Final Storm BASS Australian Open





12 Feb


Clarrie Hall

BASS Electric #1

18-19 Mar



BASS Electric #2

8-9 Apr



BASS Electric #3

20 May


Hinze Dam

BASS Electric #4

17-18 Jun


Borumba Dam

BASS Electric #5

30 Jul


St Clair

BASS Electric #6

13 Aug



BASS Electric #7

28-29 Oct



BASS Electric Convention






Bigger, better and more rewarding than it’s ever been the Basscat Australia BASS Pro Series is set to challenge and reward anglers in 2017. Six Qualifying Rounds throughout the year held on Queensland’s and New South Wales’ finest bass rivers and lakes, plus a Grand Final on Northern NSW’s Richmond River in October presents anglers with a Basscat BASS Pro calendar like they have never seen or experienced before. New challenges, new waterways and new opportunities are all on the tournament menu for the new tournament season. 2017 is definately the year of the river rat on the Basscat BASS Pro tour. Basscat Australia BASS Pro Qualifiers • Boater $250 • Non Boater $125

Storm BASS Australian Open (Boater only) $500

ePropulsion headlines the 2017 BASS Electric Series, with the new season featuring seven Qualifying Rounds and an end of year BASS Electric Convention set to take place in Queensland in October. The series kicks off in February at Clarrie Hall Dam in NSW before it travels its way through Queensland and New South Wales with a combination of single and two-day events. Anglers will fish for a combination of cash and prizes at each round plus the all important qualification berths into October’s BASS Electric Convention. To qualify for The Convention all you need to do is place in the top five (top ten at 2-day events) at one of the seven Qualifying Rounds, or finish in the top 15 of the BASS Electric Angler of the Year points race. It’s that easy. Check out the calendar to find out where and when you can get your ePropulsion BASS Electric fix. BASS Electric Entries • $50 (single day events) • $100 (two-day events)





31 Oct


Kinchant Dam

BARRA Tour Round #1 (Evening Event) BARRA Tour Round #2 (Evening Event)

1 Nov



3-4 Nov


Peter Faust

BARRA Tour Round #3 (Evening Event)

5-6 Nov


Peter Faust

BARRA Tour Round #4 (Night Championship)

21-22 Jan



Round 1

25-26 Feb


Bemm River

Round 2

25-26 Mar



Round 3

8-9 Apr



Round 4

29-30 Apr


To be announced

Round 5

Get your barra fix in 2017 with the Zerek BARRA Tour. Returning to the barra filled lakes of Kinchant, Teemburra and Peter Faust Dams, the Zerek BARRA Tour will hit the north on the peak barra bite, the full moon in November. Having emerged from their from their winter slumber and in full spring bite mode the barra should be primed to wreak havoc and deliver anglers the ultimate BARRA Tour experience.

30 Apr


Clyde River

Round 6

BARRA Tour Entries $250 (per event)

20-21 May


St Georges Basin

Round 7

10-11 Jun


Port Macquarie

Round 8

22-23 Jul


Gold Coast

Round 9

13 Aug



Round 10

26-27 Aug


To be announced

Round 11

16-17 Sep



Round 12

16-19 Nov



Australian Championship

TAG 2017 abt

The Hobie Kayak BREAM Series hits the water nation wide to offer anglers the ultimate kayak bream experience. Featuring events in WA, SA, VIC, NSW and QLD anglers are spoilt for choice in 2017 with 12 rounds in the series. All events of course lead to the biggest event of the year, the Australian Championship. The Big Show will see anglers fish from identical factory supplied Hobie kayaks in a bid to be crowned the Australian Champion. Hobie Kayak BREAM Series (Hobie rounds) • $50 (pre-event entry) or $70 (late entry) for single-day events • $100 (pre-event entry) or $140 (late entry) for two-day events N.B, For non-Hobie run rounds see individual organisers for entry details



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Tournament Angler Guide

Fine-tuning your tournament fishing approach SOUTHERN BAY

Nabeel Issa

When it comes to tournament fishing, successful anglers are always looking for that edge to get one up on their competitors. Quite often, it can be the subtle differences that can make or break a tournament result. If you have been in the scenario before, you would know full well how much of a change one bite can make to your day’s fishing. Catching that kicker fish is not just a gain on the scoreboard, it’s also a mental gain. Once that fish is in the well, your tone changes, your thought process changes, and you suddenly feel more energized. You are far more attentive and you know you are back in the game; it’s amazing what adrenaline can do! So how can you increase the chances of this happening? When competing against a high quality field of anglers, there aren’t too many 4

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secrets, everyone is using the same lures, techniques and more often than not, fishing the same areas. Being able to find a niche and zone into a pattern is what will make you stand out. So here are a few ideas that can help get you a step ahead I won’t go into too much detail (I could fill up a book), but my hope is that this will start a change of thought process to get you thinking of ways you can give yourself an edge. DO YOUR HOMEWORK While it will ultimately come down to tournament day, putting in the early preparation work will reap dividends when it counts. Often anglers will associate the early prep work with fishing new systems, or systems that you may not regularly fish. Early preparation, even for local events, is a great starting point, as it helps get you thinking and in the right frame of mind. Resources such as Google Earth, Nearmap and Marine Maps are all great places to start. If you have access to Nearmap, it provides amazingly detailed

satellite imagery and is great for finding new fishy areas. I like to look at the moon phase, tides and also look at weather patterns. These are all variables that will affect your event, and understanding them and learning how to adapt if this changes is very important. Looking through previous tournament results is also a good idea, as this will help when it comes to lure selection, and give you an idea of what to expect for the time of year. Stock up on the gear you love. I’m sure there are a number of anglers who have been left short of their favourite lures due to them being sold out. A good example is the Cranka Crab – a must-have on the bream tournament circuit. It is also a lure that at times has been hard to come by. Whatever it is, be sure to get it well in advance to save you scrambling around the week before the tournament! Keep your fishing gear organised. Store your lures neatly, ensuring they are rust-free and ready to use. Having all your gear neatly

Storing everything so you can find it easily will ultimately mean more time spent fishing and not rummaging around in the boat.

packed in the boat means that when you need to find a particular lure or tool, you can easily get to it. There is nothing worse than having to go through the whole boat to find that pair of split ring pliers or that pack of trebles that you were sure you packed! Being organised will save you time on the water. UNDERWATER EYES It’s hard to ignore the technological advances in fish finders these days – it’s an important aspect to anyone’s fishing. A quick look through the boats at a tournament and you will quickly see that the majority of anglers are kitted out with some of the latest and greatest gear. Some anglers will never use their sounder to its full potential and some will rarely take it off the GPS screen. Sounders are our eyes under the water, and in my opinion, heavily under-used when it comes to tournament fishing, especially in the bream circuit. Here’s a few ways you can make the most of the technology. Side Scan Technology

is available with most sounder brands and prices have dropped dramatically over the years, making it affordable to all anglers. It basically allows you to scan the seabed over 50m


Tournament Angler Guide each side of the boat. So imagine being able to cover the whole width of a river, with just one pass! Now think about how helpful that could be for finding structure that nobody else

Keeping notes from your trips is fantastic way to get a particular location sussed.

has seen. It’s not all about finding big schools of fish on the sounder. Most of the time just locating bait, finding new structure, or keeping an eye on depth changes and water temperature can be enough to crack a pattern. Understanding how to use all the features on your sounder will help you in a big way, and there are so many tools available to us. We need to make the effort to learn how to use them in order to make the gains. CARRYING SPARES Ever been in that position where you wished you were throwing a different strength line? Maybe you’re downsizing from 4lb fluorocarbon to 2lb, or even going up a notch and looking for something heavier. If you can afford to have 20 rods on your boat, then this may be easy done. But for the rest of us, deciding what rod and reel combinations we take and what line we spool the reels with can be a daunting task. With a diverse range of fisheries on the tournament trail, you could be fishing 2lb in crystal clear water one day or up to 16lb in the oyster leases the next. One way to solve this problem is keeping a

The author believes that it’s important to look for any edge that you can get over other anglers. In a tournament scenario, it can make a world of difference. few spare spools. Some reels come with these as standard, but generally the higher end gear doesn’t, and it may mean buying a few aftermarket spools, which is well worth it in my opinion, as it gives you that extra option when it comes to deciding on lines. I keep an array

of different strength fluorocarbon lines, as well as braid from 6-12lb. This way I know I can cover any situation I come across, and there’s no need to compromise. A good idea is to label your spools, just so you can keep track of what is what (comparing 2lb with 3lb can be quite tricky!)

DEAR DIARY Your friends might ridicule you for it, so this might be one you keep hidden away, but keeping a diary of your fishing trips is a great way to keep track of patterns. I got this idea from Steve Morgan a couple of To page 6


TAG 2017


abt From page 5

years ago after he showed me his notes from a few trips chasing threadfin salmon in the Brisbane River. He had detailed the times he fished and even had a few diagrams showing how he fished certain areas. It may seem a little overboard, but when I thought about it, a lot of really valuable information that we learn from fishing is just forgotten. We tell ourselves “I better remember that for next time”, but chances are, we will forget! Jotting down some information from a trip, whether it be good or bad will help you in the future. As time goes on and you increase your ‘database’ of information, you will be able to pick up consistent patterns that occur. For example, you might notice that in certain times of the year, the run-in tide fishes better. Maybe the barometric pressure reaching a certain point triggers a bite period. This is especially important for tournaments. After spending two or more days on the water you are bound to have learnt something new or picked up on a detail that helped you catch fish, or maybe even caused you to lose fish. This information is

Tournament Angler Guide gold; a successful angler is one that is always willing to learn. Whenever I can remember, I try to record as much information as I can from a fishing trip, noting down the moon phase, tides, lures used and any specific events

that occurred that day. It only takes a couple of minutes, but is well worth the time spent! Eventually, you will have a great bit of info up your sleeve that is going to help you on the water. If you are tech savvy, you could always collate this

When everything comes together, you should find yourself catching more fish.

information on a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet too, which would make it easy to search for key words! START FINE-TUNING I have found that by breaking down the processes involved and dialling in on each trip, you can find ways to really home in. Anything you can change to better your

Using online mapping resources can give you an idea of what you’re in for, particularly if you’ve never fished a certain body of water before. 6

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angling is going to benefit your results in the long run. It only takes one cast, one bite, to turn it all around. We have all been there, and it’s a great feeling.



Tournament Angler Guide

Hobie winner’s winning notes – confidence is key Richard Somerton

Last year was very rewarding, and I enjoyed fishing the 2016 Hobie series. I went into this season with a bit more competitive drive, which I had been struggling with in the previous year. Again, it was a full calendar, with tournaments in Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and finally a return to Tassie! The Hobie Australasia team had again put another interesting and varied season together. BEGINNINGS It all started for me at Bemm River, an arena I have previously done extremely well in. Going into the competition I was confident of at least a top 10 finish. I didn’t adapt well to the sudden rise in water level, wind strength and the hammering my spots got on pre-fish, but I stuck to my plan, with the result of 32nd… ouch! With the biggest turnout ever in the kayak series of over 100 competitors, I knew it was 8

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going to be a big year. Mallacoota again put on the numbers and was the second of the World Qualifiers after Bemm, and one I wanted to get up on the podium and to gain back some vital Worlds team points. I had a good plan, that unfortunately relied on at least one good Mallacoota beast, and I didn’t quite get there, finishing 4th. It was great to see Carl Dubois take the win and it was the start of his dominance that would eventually see him take out a well-deserved Angler of the Year title. OVER THE DITCH! It was then time for Hobie to take the show overseas! That’s right, the black bream Mecca of Tasmania. I had fished the Scamander for trout once, and that was about it, and being yet another Worlds Qualifier, I had put hours of research in with Mr Cranka Crab himself, Steve Steer. Myself and a few others found it to be a tough bite, and not the system I had heard it was, and this combined with my reluctance to use soft plastics saw me finish a disappointing 12th, and

definitely not where I had told myself I would finish. A few days later and a short drive down the road was the Swan River, and the next round of the Hobie roadshow. I love this place, and have fished it both in tournaments and socially. It has flats, racks, rocks and is very tidal. It has everything an angler could want for black bream, including some true beasts. After the prefish, I was confident and even said to my wife Tanya, “I’ve got this.” Well, it might have been a bit cocky, but I have been told you must win it in your head before going on the field. Well, finally it all came together for me with a good kicker fish on each day backed by solid bags, and this saw me take out my first win of the series and a major boost to my confidence. BACK ON THE MAINLAND The season rolled on, and I managed a 6th at St Georges Basin, and being my first yellowfin event of the year, it gave me a bit of hope that my yellowfin mojo hadn’t left me leading up to the big event, the Forster round!

In the lead up to the Forster tournament, I studied maps, tides, previous locations and distances. The major unknown for me was the new launch site, as I had always fished events from down the front. Not being sure whether to hit the lake or not, I put all my efforts into throwing Cranka Crabs around racks. Again, I went into this event knowing I would win. I had convinced myself that was what was going to happen anyway… I admit, things got a bit shaky on the prefish when it was very slow, but when an area and a pattern came together again, my confidence skyrocketed. Over the next two days, I managed two good bags that included a cracking fish that took out my first ever Boss Hog big bream! In the end, taking out the win at Forster was pretty big for me for many reasons. This was the final Worlds scoring round, which saw me go from 5th and just in the team to the top qualifier. This was also my biggest win by numbers with the largest field ever at a kayak round in NSW of 96, and this just

shows how big the kayak tournament scene is getting. I managed to squeeze one more event in down at Nelson on a very swollen, dirty and flooding Glenelg River, and again I was thinking a good game until I pulled up on Thursday night and saw the state of the water. The doubts crept in and continued throughout the tournament. There were fish there, but for the first time this year, I didn’t fill my bag and came away with 6th place. WARMING UP FOR THE BIG DANCE Going through and wrapping up the year I had, it was evident to me that my mental state had a lot to do with my performance. The events I had convinced myself I was going to win, I performed well in or won! So, when the Australian Championship came around, I had it won. In my head, anyway… Preparation for the Gold Coast started with me pouring over maps and the internet trying to formulate a plan, as I had never fished there before. I wanted an area a long-distance peddle from the start so the fishing

pressure wouldn’t be too bad. The area had plenty of structure and hopefully a larger than average fish. I had ruled out the flats heading into the event due to what I had heard regarding the crazy boat traffic! I had a chat with fellow Cranka Pro Staffer Stephen Maas pointing out my plan and listened to his thoughts. He gave the thumbs up and a couple possible lure colours and I was confident with my starting plan. When the Championships rolled around, I was ready to go, with the only question mark hanging over my plan being the new Hobie drive, the reversible MD180. Would it be slower, harder or just so different that I wouldn’t be able to put my long-distance plan into action? Those doubts were soon gone ten minutes into the pre-fish. The drives were fast, and I could maintain a higher than average speed. I didn’t make the long run up to the comp day planned areas, instead finding similar locations closer to the start line. I worked through different canals trying several pontoons, jetties and boat hulls catching fish regularly.

I found pontoons on points, junctions and multiple ones together, which ended up being the standout spots. They just needed a little bit of water movement to check the final fishabilty box! COMP DAY Day one Day one of the tournament started with the usual pandemonium of the start followed by the settling into the long peddle to my first spot at the northern end of Sovereign Islands around 11km away. By the time I reached Ephraim Island, I was on my own and as I went past, I noticed some mangroves with cormorants in them. I put on a plastic and cast it to the nearest mangrove tree. Bang! I was on. Over the next 15 or so casts, it was almost a fish every cast, but with only one legal amongst them, I thought I may have been wasting my time. It was back to plan A. The next hour or so went slowly, with a couple of fish in the well from plastics thrown under pontoons until the tide started to run out, and that’s when the Cranka Crab in cockle and brown came into play along with the MD180 drive. I thought I wouldn’t use the reverse function much, but it turned out to be a game changer. I could position myself even in the strongest


Tournament Angler Guide areas of tide up current, and then fish the crabs back under the pontoons and boats. I quickly got my last fish, and then a couple of small upgrades over the next few hours before it was time to start heading back, hitting some spots on the way. I ran into my peddling buddy Mitch King in a canal system just after I had scored a nice 700g fish on the crab. He was struggling, but told me they were just coming on. I moved up a small canal and got another upgrade followed by a legal, and then it was time to head back to the starting line. It was both an interesting and nervous wait to find out how my bag stood up against everyone else’s, and by the finish of the weigh-in I had a day one lead over the ever-dangerous Kris Hickson by only 20g! Day two The day two plan was very much the same as day one, with the only change being spending a bit more time in the mangroves of Ephraim Island. The legs were feeling the burn at the start, and there was definitely fewer kayaks going north by the time I hit the mangroves. As I approached the spot, I saw one tinny and another yak (non-competitor) on the best section of the mangroves. Bugger!

I found some birds in a large tree and fired in a cast. Bang! A small fish, but at least they were there. The next fish was deep hooked. Legal, but bleeding a bit, and I decided to let him swim. I hoped that didn’t turn out to be a wrong decision. The next fish was a nice one over 700g that hit hard, jumped twice and ended up hanging out of a tree! There was a moment of panic as I raced in and shoved the net under it. That was number one! A few casts later and another 500g fish in the well, I decided to head north and continue with the plan. It turned out to be very slow, with only a bit of by-catch. I also had the curse of the dreaded camera boat stalking me for a while. I added one to the live well that I plucked off a pontoon, but the owner seemed to take offense by charging down, starting his boat and revving his engine! I decided to move on, giving him a smile and a parting comment on his passive aggressive behaviour. By 11 o’clock, I was starting to doubt my plan and heading back down the system. I managed another reasonable legal, but I decided to hit another canal on the way home. By the time I got there, the tide was almost dead low and I

had an hour left before the peddle back. Luckily, the place was on fire! I filled my limit, upgraded three times and smacked a handful of legal fish on top of that. I felt confident, but I knew if the marinas had fired, it was going to be very close. CRUNCHING NUMBERS Again at the weigh-in,

It was an amazing feeling to see that bag of fish hit the scales and see my weight come out on top! After five Championships with a couple of close call podium finishes, it was fantastic to be able to get the win! I couldn’t have done it without the support of some great people and companies.

and keeping it fresh and exciting. I would also like to thank Duffrods, Cranka, Humminbird, SLH/Lovig Kayak Fishing and RhinoRack for their continued support and gear. All the other competitors that head all over Australia to compete definitely make the series what it is, and a huge hats off goes to each

The Gold Coast was an excellent venue for a Hobie Grand Final. it proved to be tough for some and better for others, and after a few words with the guys, I was feeling very confident.

I would like to thank Hobie Australasia for putting all the time, money and effort into running these tournaments year after year

and every one of them. Finally, I must thank my wife Tanya for all the belief, love, support, and understanding. Bring on next year!


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Tournament Angler Guide

To be or not to be sponsored, that is the question

Elliot Fooks

Fishing is an industry the takes on many forms. For some, it’s a weekend passion, for others it’s their work, and for a lucky few, it’s both.

As anglers we are all heavily invested stakeholders in this industry, and we all have pride in fishing and what it has given us, but what can we give back? If you turn up to any ABT tournament, you will see a wide range of boats wrapped

with a plethora of sponsor logos, as well as anglers wearing jerseys from every brand under the sun. What do anglers and brands actually get out of these deals? And, more importantly, what do anglers and sponsors want from these deals? During my years

Sponsoring anglers is just one component of a company’s marketing strategy. The decision to sponsor an angler uses up money that could be spent elsewhere. Carl Jocumsen knows this well, and looks after his sponsors. 10

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working for ABT, I heard many anglers talk about sponsorship as both a privilege and a right. However, there’s a debate as to whether it should be viewed as a transaction or a job. WHO AM I? Sponsored anglers are just one part of a company’s complicated marketing mix, and the decision to sponsor an angler takes away from other areas the business can spend its marketing dollars on. While some sponsors will expect very little and give very little, if you want to be worth the investment the business needs to see a return. While it may not be popular to say being a sponsored angler is a job, that’s what it is. However, it should still be a positive experience for you, adding to your enjoyment and, in turn, helping the industry grow. While it may all sound like more work than it’s worth, the key is to think about what you can bring to our industry and sport. Let’s take a step back and think about assessing the skills you have and what you can bring to the table. Before you think about targeting sponsors you need to identify a few things. Identifying what drives

Tournaments often see many sponsored anglers getting together, all vying for that top spot. you to get out on the water should be easy. Your fishing passion may be solely competitive tournament fishing, or it may be broader. Look at identifying your

‘fishing brand’, which is the kind of fishing that people can associate with you. This brand will change and grow thoughout the cycle of the seasons.

Remember, much like the company that you want to represent, you have many dimensions. These are the areas that make you different from all the other anglers knocking on a company’s door. Your seasonal angling will start to help form the story of you as an angler, and help people connect with your story. The second thing to identify is what content of


Tournament Angler Guide value you can produce. As we all can see, there are hundreds of anglers out there pushing their passion on all forms of social media, but what are your strengths and key differences? Much like your fishing, this is a skill set you need to evaluate and grow as time passes. Break this down like any business problem and look at creating a personal strength, weakness, opportunity and

threat analysis to see where you stand. At this point, it is critical to see where your skills are in relation to what you want to achieve, so I recommend doing this SWOT analysis by scanning the QR code hereby with an end goal in mind. Your content creation should go beyond photos of you holding a fish. It doesn’t hurt to tell the story of what you got the fish

It is critical to see where your skills are in relation to what you want to achieve before you think of approaching any potential sponsors.

on, where you caught it and what it means to you. For you, it may be about reviewing tackle through text and video, or it could even be a weekly podcast you create about your fishing adventures and what you caught your fish on. It’s also key to benchmark your output against others in the industry, as this is a great way for you to see who is represented in

the industry and what they are producing. Look at both the quality of the content and how regularly they are producing content, and this will give you an idea on what you will be expected to produce for a sponsor. While benchmarking gives you a start on what to do, you need to form your own style. This may not be a big change from what others are doing, but try to give


Scan the QR code to do a SWOT analysis. To page 12

Once you know what content you want to create, you’ll be able to understand what you can do to add value to a brand.


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abt From page 11

yourself a consistent point of difference from other anglers. It’s critical for all of us to not turn into copycats, as this devalues good content and sucks out the incentive to create different and interesting content. If there is content that excites you, don’t copy it. Instead, use it as inspiration to help push your own content. In turn, you will help push others to create and grow as anglers and producers. From here, you can begin to think about what value proposition you will be able to pitch to potential sponsors and who these sponsors could be. PITCHER UP? So you know what content you want to create, and you are starting to understand what you can do to add value to a brand. Now it’s time to assess which brands in the market you would be an asset to. Similar to assessing your own skills, you need to look at the products you use and understand what message and brand identity the marketing team of your chosen brand is putting out into the public domain. While it is easy to just look at your tackle and pick the brands you see the most of and say, “I will talk to them” – try to think past

Tournament Angler Guide the obvious. Look at brands that create products that fit into your style. This could be a wader and clothing company that fits more with your passion for shore game bass fishing, rather than traditional tournament gear. Try to identify a few brands that you have a connection to and start looking at the content they are creating. It should be very clear what each brand is good at doing, and where they concentrate their marketing. Look at every avenue of marketing that the brand uses. This could be across both social and traditional media. This will identify gaps in what they do, areas they could improve upon, and avenues they have never or aren’t currently exploring. This will give you areas where you can target your pitch to. Just remember that someone who is in the marketing department will have (or should have) based all their decisions on research and experience, and you are not the oracle. It’s about showing what you think is great about their company and what you can do to help in a positive and polite manor, because more often than not, marketing teams get emails demanding sponsorship for nothing. While assessing the target, it’s then time to

start building your skills in content creation and creating a folio of work. In a way, you are going to pitch for a job position they didn’t know they needed to fill, so you need to have some ‘wow’ factor. Show them the story of why you love their product and what

it means to you. In any part of life, it’s easier to have a connection to someone if you know their story, and for all of us, most of the lures in our tackle box can evoke a story. This story telling is a way you can thread yourself and the brand together and show how you are not just asking for product, but rather, you want to be part of their team. When pitching, get creative in how you show this. Think about how your pitch links with your content. It could be as simple as emailing them a link to a video you have

Sponsored anglers will often wear their colours when out on the water.

created using their product, or possibly writing a review about the new product they have coming out and ask if they would like to publish it on their website. If you want something of value, put work into it and offer them something of value first. WHERE TO NOW? If you can’t say that you have a passion for the brand or believe in the product, don’t ask to be sponsored by them. It should be a product you’d be happy to promote even if you weren’t getting paid. Our fishing time is limited, and the companies’ financial commitment to the sport is also limited, so be honest with yourself and think about what you want to do in the fishing industry, because at the end of the day we are all stakeholders in the sport. While it may sound difficult to be sponsored or get sponsored, it’s always exciting to be part of the fishing industry. It may take time to get involved, but if it’s your passion, then create the content you want to see. Create goals for your fishing as a sponsored angler, and this way over the long term, you can show the brands you love what you are doing to help the industry. That’s the way to earn stronger support from fishing companies.

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MAP IT. OWN IT. SHARE IT. I can’t believe how good this map is I just downloaded free off the Quickdraw™ Community. Look at this structure, those drop offs. Never would have known about this lake without the community. It’s fun fishing new water. I’ve already caught two nice keepers. Of course, I’ve uploaded some pretty nice maps, too. Glad someone decided to share this one.


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Tournament Angler Guide

A fresh approach to fishing structure for bream BRISBANE

Tom Slater

At the recent Gold Coast BREAM Qualifier one of the best-kept secrets of the Coast shone through, shedding the light on a new weapon in the increasing arsenal of the modern day bream angler… New techniques often arise out of the equally inspiring factors of location and equipment. Great anglers faced with new locations or armed with new equipment create or adapt new techniques. As word gets out, these techniques spread to the heads and hands of more and more anglers who each apply their individual experience and their own spin. Soon the new technique or lure’s popularity runs out of control and is used to catch fish all over the country. The clear waters of the Gold Coast’s canal system are ironically complex and present anglers with many challenges. Seeing fish is not the issue, but turning sightings of fish into fish in the livewell can be tricky. 14

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For a long time anglers relied on what can only be described as an ultra finesse approach to get finicky bream to bite. That approach can certainly work, but often anglers are left on the brink of insanity as they repeatedly watch fish after fish look but not bite their perfectly presented offerings. The weapon that was revealed at the most recent ABT event presented a complete turnaround from the days of unweighted plastics and 2lb fluoro. Grab yourself a chrome reflective pattern jerkbait and a pair of pliers and get ready for some of the hottest structureorientated bream fishing you’ve ever experienced. THE THEORY A wildly twitching super reflective, gaudy coloured jerkbait underneath a floating pontoon might ring alarm bells for some anglers, but rings the dinner bell for otherwise hard to tempt bream. Local bream fishing guru and Sporty’s Fishing staff member Alex Roy has honed this technique for many years and now relies

upon it more than any other when attempting to bag the biggest limit he can on the maze of canals that litter his home waters. “It all began with the desire to actively target a whole school of fish that were underneath a pontoon. We’d always thrown surface lures because of their draw

power but because the bait was always invisible to the vast majority of the fish sitting underneath the pontoon you would only ever draw out one or two fish. Tuning a jerkbait to run underneath the pontoon put it in front of the whole school. An erratic fast retrieve drew the first few

and once you had two or three the school would follow. It’s so effective because once you have the school interested pack mentality takes over and that’s often when the larger fish in the school assert their dominance.” THE TECHNIQUE This technique is

The Imakatsu IS Wasp 50 is the must-have lure for jerkbaiting pontoon bream.

perfectly suited to any floating source of shade. Most commonly this refers to pontoons, but boat hulls work equally as well. The basics involve getting a small 40-50mm shad profile mid-depth diving hardbait, bending the tow eyelet to deliberately force the lure to swim on its side and using that sideways swimming action to track your lure underneath the structure, drawing the attention of any fish suspended beneath. This isn’t a finesse approach either, retrieves are fast paced and full of twitches. Often the more erratic you can make your lure, the better, with the idea being that the less time the fish have to look closely at your lure, the less you have to serve them up the platter of ultra-realistic, super finesse hodgepodge that we’ve been feeding them up to this point. This is a place for heavy leaders and bright colours, the ones that normally lie dormant in the rusty corners of your tacklebox. The key in this technique lies in the tuning of the tow-point on the lure.


Tournament Angler Guide Without this step, the lure fails to swim underneath the pontoon and you risk missing fish that might be holding on the far edge of the pontoon, unable to draw them from that distance. If you want to go the whole nine yards, equip yourself with two outfits, one with a lure that is tuned to swim right, and one

that is tuned to swim left. Switching out as you fish the face of the pontoon from the sides or back corners. To tune your lure, you need to bend the tow point eyelet on the bib of your lure in the direction you’d like the lure to swim (from the lure’s point of view). So if you’re looking down the back of the lure from

the tail towards the bib and you want the bait to swim right, you would bend the eyelet to the right, which if flipped looking head (bib) onto the lure, would be the left. Certain lures may require less or more tuning, and some can even be tuned by hand with no need for pliers. A side effect of tuning

In most cases the hits, hook-ups and fights will happen tight to structure.

Getting the attention of the whole school means the bigger fish will try to assert their dominance by striking first.


lures is a loss of absolute swimming depth, so a lure that would normally travel 5-6ft deep might only travel 1-2ft deep. This side effect is positive, as you want the lure as close to the underside of the pontoon as possible. If you were to attempt to tune an already shallow diving hardbody, you’d fail to achieve enough depth at the optimal retrieve speed to get the lure underneath the pontoon. Likewise attempting this method with an ultra deep diving lure will not have the lure high enough in the water column. When the fish are often focused on the underside of the structure

feeding, getting your lure up there is imperative. The retrieve is where this technique really stands out. There’s no room for slow rolls and dead sticking here. To ignite a school of bream underneath a pontoon you need to create competition. By getting multiple fish interested in your lure, you create a sense of panic among the fish. They’re worried another fish is going to steal their meal, so they bite hard and aggressively, and often the largest fish in the pack will assert their dominance. Begin by casting well past the pontoon or boat, as close to the edge as you can.

Then wind your lure down and allow the lure’s tune to take the lure on its side into the line of the pontoon. When your lure draws near to the structure, speed up, engaging twitches as you increase your lure speed. Don’t be afraid to work the lure the entire length of the pontoon before pausing. If you don’t get hit mid-retrieve the pause on the closest edge of the pontoon is likely where all hell will break loose. By then, you’ve hopefully received the attention of the whole school of bream that reside under the pontoon, and when your To page 16



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bait suddenly lies dormant their opportunity to strike will arise. It is best to keep your rod tip pointed towards the sky. An elevated rod tip will help limit the depth

Tournament Angler Guide of your lure, so you can keep it perfectly situated just below the bottom of the structure you’re fishing. Roy also believes this is the optimal position to strike from when the inevitable hit eventuates.

THE EQUIPMENT It’s important to equip yourself with the right gear for the job, and it all begins with the right bait. In this instance, a mid-diving shad profile jerkbait between 40-50mm is ideal. Gold

The Gold Coast’s canals are a great place to try out new techniques.

Coast gun Alex Roy, is a firm believer in the Imakatsu IS Wasp 50. “I will only ever use the Wasp, I’ve got so much confidence in that bait and it swims at the perfect depth. I just couldn’t bring myself to use anything else. The bait casts well, which helps when casting in windy conditions. It’s also handy to stay as far back from the pontoon as possible, especially since I’m in an aluminium boat that does suffer from hull slap noise more so than a fibreglass boat. The bait has a really thin tail, which aids the hook-up rate, plus it suspends perfectly. Probably my favourite trait is the fact that I can tune the lure with a forceful push of my thumbnail, not having to constantly reach for a pair of pliers.” The key is to look for baits that exhibit a great erratic action when twitched. You’ll also want to find one that suspends perfectly in saltwater. That pause once you’ve worked your bait the length of the pontoon or boat hull is the make or break moment, and a floating or sinking bait will look unnatural, which will cost you bites. Colour is where all modern trends go out the window. Manufacturers in Australia have been so hellbent on making the most natural looking translucent colours in years past and for the most part, these are

the least effective colour patterns for this technique. Patterns with overriding chrome or reflective sides prevail on days when the

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Tournament Angler Guide sunrays make the reflective surfaces of the bait come to life. When the sun stays hidden behind the clouds, solid colours with a more matte finish tend to out-perform their blingy brethren. Roy’s favourite? Plain old white, “The thing with this

vibrant pearlescent finish.” You’ll want to get hold of a rod with a good tip, twitching lures at this pace requires good feel and a very soft slow tapered rod quite often lacks the feel required for imparting the perfect twitch. Ideally the perfect rod would exhibit a

being said, if I do hook a brute and need to put the hurt on, the bottom end has more than enough power to muscle them out on even 8 or 10lb line.” This is no place for spider web thin 2lb line. Fishing a braided line will help you create the small,

he needs to stay further away than anglers fishing in fibreglass boats. This technique also doesn’t require the lengthy leaders employed by a lot of southern bream fisherman. Roy explains there’s rarely a time where your leader knot even enters the water. “I always make my leaders the optimal length for maximum casting distance, which is having the knot just outside the reel when setting up to cast. Because I like to hold my rod tip up while I retrieve, the leader knot is almost always actually out of the water. You also

want really direct contact with the lure, and having a long leader will hinder that sensitivity.” PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE Putting this technique into play requires knowing locations in your local waterway that are likely to hold good numbers of fish. The reason this works so well is that the speed and energy of the retrieve makes the fish react, and once you have multiple fish interested a frenzy takes over and they can’t help themselves. You’ll want to find pontoons that are holding a school of fish.

If there are only one or two fish on each pontoon or boat you aren’t going to spark that pack drive. While this technique first made headlines on the Gold Coast, there’s no doubt its potential carries far and wide from its origins. If you think about some of Australia’s best breaming waterways, there’s plenty to encourage anglers to adopt this new technique. Waterways like Sydney Harbour are poised to show their full potential as the ABT tour heads back for the muchanticipated Australian Open format in 2017.

Tuning the lure to track left or right is as simple as squeezing the eyelet left or right with your fingers. technique is the fish don’t ever get that long to look at it, and the whole premise relies on grabbing the attention of one, two then all of a sudden the whole school. So it’s no place for translucent patterns. Solid colours with bright contrast or flashy foil definitely work best. My favourite is a solid white pattern with a

cushioning bottom end as quite often hook-ups will be from a swiping strike with the hooks outside the mouth. Roy prefers the EDGE Black Widow 701ISR, “It’s a fast-actioned rod with the perfect tip for twitching lures, it’s not overly stiff through the middle section, which helps avoid pulling hooks. That

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erratic twitches, and also help to increase your casting distance. While this is close quarters fishing, having the ability to punch a fast, accurate and long cast will help to line up retrieves to maximise the time your lure spends underneath the structure. Roy believes the added noise from his aluminium hull boat means


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Tournament Angler Guide

BassCat BASS Pro Series: the year of the river rat Elliott Fooks

ABT’s BASS anglers have honed their bass-catching craft on some of the best impoundments across Queensland and New South Wales for the last 15+ years. This still water focus has pushed anglers’ abilities, techniques and tackle to a point where fishing for impoundment bass is a refined art. In the late 1990s when it all began, a white 1/2oz Kokoda spinnerbait cast to the edge was king. As simple and effective as the Kokoda spinnerbait purchased from Big W was, there was a desire and need for anglers to evolve. Over time, developments in tackle design resulted in a tournament landscape filled with an expansive and eclectic assortment of tackle and techniques to help anglers catch fish regardless of where they were and what they wanted to eat. As the Bass Cat BASS Pro Series moves into its 19th tournament season in 18

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2017, the new series heralds a new frontier for anglers: the rivers. It’s a new chapter in the evolution of ABT tournaments. The inclusion of two river rounds and a river Grand Final offers new opportunities and challenges, and will create the most diverse BASS series Australian tournament anglers have ever had on offer. In 2016 we got a small taste of the river life, and if we are to take anything away from Kris Hickson’s victory in ABT’s inaugural river round on the Richmond River last year, it’s that the river rounds will bring out skill sets in our anglers that many of us have not witnessed before. 2017 will be the year of the bass fishing river rat. To give all anglers new to river fishing an insight into the tricks of the trade, we interviewed three of the best river rats on the tournament trail. We asked them to give us their insights on what’s in store on the 2017 tour, and share their ideas, tips, tricks, and must-haves for success on a very different tournament

landscape. THE ROAD AHEAD With every new season there is always an air of excitement for all anglers who are keen to hit the tournament trail, and 2017 is shaping up to be an even more exciting year for our trio of river rats. Last year’s Richmond River champion and 2016 Angler of the Year Kris Hickson is making the rivers a key focus for 2017. “With my busy tournament calendar for 2017, the BASS river rounds are going to receive a lot of my attention,” he said. “It’s really going to make for an exciting Angler of the Year race.” For Tom Slater there will be an even greater industry benefit to the change of focus. “I think we will see the evolution of equipment for river bass fishing explode with more coverage, and that can only help get the best tackle into the hands of bass anglers,” he said. Joe Urquhart agrees with Slater. “I really think it will help push every angler to

become better at their sport, as well as give them a better understanding of what works for them,” he said. The unknown quantity of the rivers provides opportunities to those

anglers with an intimate knowledge of river fishing, and it also freshens up the trail for experienced ABT anglers. The 2017 season looks like one of the best seasons to be an ABT

BASS angler. WHERE OH WHERE IS THAT BASS The Hawkesbury and Clarence rivers are much bigger than any impoundment we have

Beautiful environments and beautiful fish are all part of river fishing for bass. here in Australia. It can be a daunting task to try to break down a river system to find where the bass will be located. As anglers it is going to take a shift in thought pattern to locate these fish. “Bass in the river behave

down on one spot if there’s enough water, but you need that movement to keep them feeding,” Slater said. Hickson sums it up very simply with an old saying: ‘If there’s no run, there’s no fun’. Staying with your tidal

coming from and where the fish will line up on the structure. It’s all about knowing where the bait will get pushed into first. For Urquhart, the age of a spot can be a telling factor as well. “Bass move up and

Having a range of baits is the key to finding success in river environments. completely differently from lake fish,” Urquhart explained. “During the times ABT are running the tournaments, most fish won’t be schooled up. They will be tight to structure.” Slater stressed the importance of knowing the annual migration patterns of the bass, and where their upper and lower travel limits are. “I really try to work out how far I think the bass will move down in a system to breed, and I try to work out how far back up they will be at any given stage,” he said. “From there I start looking at aerial maps to give me some starting points.” Once you have got an area to start fishing, it’s all about understanding the tides and where the fish will be throughout the session. It starts with a rise, ends will a fall and you need it to move. When asked about how to manage the tide, our anglers’ voices raised with excitement, with all three of them agreeing that an intimate knowledge of the tide is the first key to success. “You need to know what the tide is doing at each section of the river you want to fish,” explained Urquhart. “In big river systems you can have really big time differences in when it will be moving. This can even differ for opposite sides of a bank.” Having tidal movement is one of the triggers for bass to feed, and anglers need to manage this throughout the session. “Bass can move up and

movement will make for a big difference in the amount of river you can cover, so look at planning your session and fish with the tide. “You don’t want to be leap frogging yourself up the river,” Hickson said. “If the tide is pushing out then start fishing down with it and you will find more switched on fish.” GET TO KNOW YOUR A B C Once you have found the stretch of river to start fishing in, and you know your tide in the area, it’s now time to categorise your spots to focus your time even better. Slater begins a session looking for what he calls A, B and C spots. “You want to look for spots with good current pushing on to it, a good amount of shade plus places to ambush prey from,” he said. “These are your golden A spots – the ones you want to stop and focus your fishing on.” Remove the shade and the spot becomes a category B for Slater. They are still worth attention, but he will spend less time setting up for these spots. “I try to focus on a high percentage of A spots and cover water between these key spots. It is all about only spending time on the best spots in a river full of great snags,” he said. While our two other anglers look for the same elements in a spot, for Urquhart and Hickson there are a couple of extra key details they look for. Hickson needs to know where the bait will be

down a river throughout their whole life and they get to know where to stop off for a rest,” he explained. “Old fallen trees will have been used by these fish in the past. Bass can be creatures of habit.” For anglers making a change to the river for the first time, Urquhart has some more wisdom. “Bass are great food for sharks and big cod which means they won’t move far to eat your lure,” he explained. “You need to find the structure they are hiding in.” SKIP IT, FLIP IT, PITCH IT AND MAKE SURE IT’S IN DEEP With the bass sitting tight to the structure, hiding from sharks and other predators, your casting accuracy is going to be tested. “A missed cast will mean a missed fish,” Hickson warned. “You will only get one shot at each fish.” Each of our anglers stressed the importance of taking time to position yourself so you can make the best possible cast. “When I come to an A grade spot I take an extra few moments before I make a cast,” Slater said. “You really need to get it perfect first go.” Urquhart agreed. “You need to get your lure as deep into the structure as possible, and I will use any method of casting to do so,” he said. Both Hickson and Slater believe it’s time for anglers to learn new types of casting techniques.

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Tournament Angler Guide

From page 19

“For me, skip casting and landing the lure softly have really helped all my structure fishing,” Hickson said. “Bass will reward a good cast.” Slater thinks that flipping and pitching will come to the forefront in the coming season. “I like to cover water quickly all day, and pitching really helps cover water with short, rapid casts when fish are tight to

structure,” he said. IT’S TOOL TIME To create these perfect casts our anglers use different tools to get the job done. Slater, who focuses on flipping and pitch, looks for a baitcasting rod longer than 7’ to get the job done. “I position the boat 6-10ft out from the bank so I want a rod that allows me to easily pitch my bait in and give me good control,” he explained. “It means I

can cast with less effort and control the fall of the bait.” Urquhart opts for a baitcasting outfit as well, but he favours a shorter rod and looks for one in the 6’5” range. “I find the shorter rods give me better control and allow for more casting angles,” he said. Hickson also sticks with the shorter rods, but a spinning reel is his first choice. This option allows Hickson to skip


tournament g r u ea yo

r ..

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River currents and tides are a whole new consideration for the river rat.

cast his baits deep into the structure without the fear of backlashes. The days of the standard 7’ rod are like jack fishing, you can have less than a second to turn the boat and get that fish out of cover,” Urquhart

Urquhart thinks the smaller boats in the field can use their size to their advantage. “In the rivers there are

KEY LESSONS FROM THE MASTER RATS Here are five things to do in 2017. 1. Get back out in the yard and practice your casting, and then spend 30 minutes at the end of each fishing trip practicing different casting techniques. It’s time to skip and pitch like a BASS Elite angler. 2. It’s time to get intimate with bass. You need learn their breeding and movement patterns. Where will they be in the river system come tournament time? Do you know where the bass will be next Tuesday at 1pm? It’s time to research. 3. Learn to read the water, know where your current breaks are and where fish will be sitting in the structure. 4. Know your tidal differences. You need to pinpoint where the tide will be running at every stage of the tide. When there’s no run there’s no fun. 5. Don’t throw your confidence out the window. It may all sound like you’re going to Africa to fish for a new species, but start with key baits and techniques you have confidence in, and grow from there. numbered on the rivers, and anglers will need to pitch the best rod for each specific job. While all three anglers have different ideas when it comes to rod selection, they all agree that your electric and boat set-up are key to landing those fish, and cable-steer electric motors are a must-have for the rivers. “Cable steer electric motors will help you get fish out of the structure and allow you to position yourself for your cast far better than an electric drive,” explained Hickson. “Bass fishing can be

explained. “Direct steering gives you another 10% in your favour.” You won’t see shallow water anchors being used in lakes often, but Slater believes his Talon is almost as important as his electric motor. “Having a Talon allows me to stop dead in position and get that perfect cast in,” he explained. “Once I get the bass in the boat it also allows me to stop and put fish in the live well without drifting over my other key spots.” While most anglers dream of running a fast fibreglass bass boat,

so many great spots that the bigger boats just can’t fit into,” he said. “Although you may not have the speed that the big boats have, you can find some great water all to yourself in a small boat.” If you’re a non-boater with a smaller boat wanting to try a round as a boater, the river may be the place to start. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO EAT? When it comes to baits, all three of our anglers spoke of having one key bait they’re confident throwing, and then expand To page 22




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abt From page 20

their offering from there. “Bass will eat almost anything during the day and night, but only in very

Tournament Angler Guide specific windows,” said Urquhart. Slater explained further that it isn’t about one key lure for all the structure on offer.

LURES OF CHOICE • Bassman Spinnerbait in chartreuse • TT Snake Head in range of weights with your favourite small plastic • Deep Crank Bait – Look to the OSP Blitz range • Pro’s Factory Motion Jig in colour MO107

It’s about identifying the key bait for the moment you’re fishing in. When pressed for what baits are a must, Slater said he starts with a dark coloured jig with a blade attached and a weedless soft plastic. Hickson and Urquhart also favour weedless plastics, but both think you can’t go past having a deep crankbait and spinnerbait set up on

your rods. “I really don’t like saying that one lure is going to work,” Hickson said. “It’s that perform well in tight structure. COME ON DOWN! While most anglers have

tides. It’s a fun new challenge and a new skill to put in your quiver. It’s going to be an

Spinnerbaits are a staple for many river rats.

Kris Hickson knows his way around rivers, and his results definitely reflect this.

about confidence in your lure and presenting it deep in the structure, and changing until you find the key on the day.” While all three anglers were hesitant to make a definitive list of lures, their choices all point to lures

years of experience on the waters above the dam wall, it’s time to get down in the flowing water. It’s time to do some homework and look at how bream anglers target fish in the flowing water, practice your casting and learn your

exciting year on the 2017 Bass Cat BASS Pro series, showcasing new skills and helping anglers grow. Whoever wins the 2017 Angler of the Year will have to master both the still and the moving bass waters. C R E AT E , I N N O VAT E , D O M I N AT E



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Tournament Angler Guide

Big bait swimbait madness for XOS barra Simon Goldsmith

You would have to be blind or hiding under a rock not to be aware of the swimbait trend that’s making its way through the Australian sportfishing scene at the moment. Highly addictive to use, swimbaits are by no means a new phenomena, though the current wave of interest in them is exposing anglers, and fish, to baits and presentations that both haven’t seen before. When thinking about big baits, and especially big swimbaits, it’s hard to not think of barra, with the thought of a 120cm Faust giant inhaling your $100 swimbait enough to get any angler licking their lips. Are swimbaits for barra addictive? Yes. Effective? Yes. Are they the great all-rounder that will put fish in the boat like a Slick Rig? Definitely not. They are, however, an effective tool, that in the right place, and at the right time will tempt fish, when others fail. 24

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LOOKING BACK As I mentioned, swimbaits are nothing new on the barra front and in the early 2000s when impoundment barra fishing was on a rapid rise there was a small group of progressive anglers throwing them. Most of the baits they threw they sourced from the US, or had been brought to our shores by visiting anglers from overseas. Steve Morgan had some pretty heavy exposure to what swimbaits could do in the mid 2000s when fishing various West Coast events in iconic California lakes like Clear Lake. “The learning curve is pretty steep when you’re in the boat on one of the hottest swimbaiting lakes on the planet with the guys that were instrumental in creating the technique,” Steve said. “There are a lot of Californian lakes that get an annual top-up of yearling trout. Trophy largemouth bass gorge themselves on these – sometimes straight out of the hatchery truck. That was the genesis of a lot of the 8-12 inch long hard, jointed baits and XOS plastic swimbaits like the Huddleston.

“The most effective one I found for use in Australia was a Mission Fish, which was a snagproof, cast-anywhere soft plastic paddle tail with a concealed hook. Trouble was that it was basically barraproof as well. They’d eat the hell out of it and all you’d end up with was a foot of scuffed leader,” Steve continued. Still, experiences like these planted the seed for future development. An angler that has squeezed a lifetime of barra fishing into the last 15 years is Jason Wilhelm, a barra guide at Lake Awoonga in its glory years, and the winner of the inaugural BARRA Tour event (Lake Awoonga, 2005), Jason has spent many years trialling and refining catching barra on swimbaits. “One of the first barra I landed on Lake Awoonga back in 2003 spewed up a giant bony bream around 300mm long. It immediately got me thinking, why am I using such small lures for fish that obviously eat such large prey? From there my interest in big baits started and in 2005 after taking Bushy fishing on Awoonga and sharing my perspective and experience,

he went away designed a series of boney bream imitation prototypes, and after extensive R and D and trial and error the legendary Squidgy Bony Bream was born. It became pretty clear during some of those onwater R and D sessions that big lures stood out over every

other presentation, but it was also apparent that there were other times when they yielded no interest at all,” explained Wilhelm. IN ITS PLACE While it can be easy to get wrapped up in the hype of the swimbait craze, it’s important to keep our feet

firmly planted on the ground. Jason Wilhelm thinks this is very important. “Plenty of time onwater chasing barra has shown me that big swimbaits are an important string to your barra fishing bow. Don’t make the mistake, however, of thinking that they’re the magic bullet

The rewards for fishing big baits for barra can be awesome.

for catching giant fish, or will deliver you fish every time you use them. It’s important to keep their ability and use in perspective”. Carl Jocumsen is an angler who’s perhaps thrown more swimbaits than any other Aussie angler, and just like when targeting largemouth bass, he sees swimbaits as the lure to pick up and throw when big fish is on the menu. “We’ll fill our limit with jigs, cranks, or whatever they’re keyed in on, and once


Tournament Angler Guide we have our bag we’ll pick up and throw the swimbait to try and catch a mega upgrade. A big swimbait can trigger the apex predator to bite like nothing else will, and I use and have had success using this approach when chasing barra,” explains Carl. And that’s exactly what our 2016 Zerek BARRA Tour Team of the Year Craig Griffiths and Karim De Ridder did on the 2016 BARRA Tour. “We’d fill our limit with

traditional lures like Slick Rigs, and once we had our limit one of us will put it down then pick up the swimbait rod and throw big swimbaits for the rest of session,” explained De Ridder. It’s an approach that regularly pays dividends for the pair and generates that big bite when the big fish come out to play late in the session. “Late at night is often when the smaller fish will retreat and the bigger fish will begin to move and feed,

Purpose-built rods and reels are important when fishing such a large bait.

so the timing with pulling out the big baits is often perfectly coincided.” “In some ways I think the fish may be looking for that last big meal before they retire for the night and retreat back to the weed or deep to rest and digest what they’ve eating during their period of feeding.” WHEN DO WE DO THIS? While De Ridder has given us an insight into when and what time of the day they’ll pick up their elephant hunting swimbait rods and start throwing XOS baits for XOS barra, there are prime times of the year for swimbaits, particularly at Peter Faust Dam, the lake they find tends to be the pick for catching barra on swimbaits. “The end of September through to late January seems to be the peak for swimbaiting,” Griffiths says. “We theorize that outside of this the fish are feeding on different sized bonies, feeding on something other than bonies, or feeding in a manner that makes them less willing to eat a swimbait. It also seems to be more an after dark thing rather than during the day.” Jason Wilhelm sees a similar warm water pattern; one he thinks is driven by digestion and metabolism. “When the weather and water is warm and the fish

are in full active feeding mode they seem to be more willing to eat big baits. Their feeding and digestion is in overdrive and it’s when that it’s like that that I will pull out the big swimbaits,” explains Wilhelm. BAIT UP There are many different swimbait types available and while there are at times overlaps or hybrid combination of different types they can essentially be categorized into three distinct groups, hardbody, soft body and paddle-tail. Within each of these groups there are subcategories, let’s take a look at them. HARDBODY Single jointed baits Made of two solid body parts joined by a hinged connection. This joint allows the lure to swim when it’s retrieve through the water. Glide baits A single piece swimbait that in most cases has a sleek hydrodynamic profile that gives the lure a wide more elegant s-shaped swimming action. A lure that can be worked slower than a single joint swimbait and can have a stop start retrieve imparted to it like a jerkbait. Multi-jointed baits A bait made of more than two sections hinged together. They have a wider smoother action than single jointed

baits and deliver plenty of noise due to all their joints and body parts. SOFT BODY Full Body A one-piece soft body swimbait that generally has trebles attached to the belly. Line through As the name implies the line runs through the nose of the bait and exits on the top of the bottom of the bait. You then connect the line to the hook. The bait runs up the line during the fight minimizing damage to the bait and eliminating the fish using the lure as leverage during the fight to dislodge it. Top Hook Features a hook that runs from the nose, where the eye of the hook is, and exits through the back on the top of the bait. Can come in a variety of different weights including weightless. Has great hook exposure, hook up rate, and are great for fishing along the bottom. Some come with an eyelet at the bottom for fitting a treble. PADDLE-TAIL Hollow body A hollow tube-body style paddle-tail bait. Their hollow body makes them soft and provides good hookset due to the fact that they compress easily when bitten. They come either unweighted or with a belly weight style To page 26


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Tournament Angler Guide

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hook set-up. Can be fitted with a variety of hook and weight set ups. Solid Body This is the most well known and popular type of swimbait for barra (a Squidgy Slick Rig is one of these). Their solid body

design makes them highly durable, allows them to stay rigged correctly for longer, and allows for good hook exposure and penetration. Has hook position and location the same as top hook soft body swimbaits, with the eyelet at the nose or on top of the head with the hook point

Swimbaits come in all shapes and sizes, it’s just a matter of picking the right one for the situation.

located on the back. Come pre-rigged or can be rigged in multiple ways with aftermarket hooks and weights. TIE ONE ON When it’s go time to tie on and start throwing a swimbait, Griffiths go-to is of the soft bait variety. Having tinkered and trialed his own hand poured paddle tail swimbaits for the last three years, Craig has created a selection of large hand pours he believes are on the money.

“We’ve imported a lot of soft swimbaits over the years and while many of them worked well after a lot or trial and research we created a bait that is tailor made for barra,” explained Griffiths. Being rather tight lipped about the exact nature of his hand poured swimbaits, Griffiths did give us some insight into their size, where and when they fished them and how they fished them. “Our baits are anywhere between 170 and 250mm long. Up to 200mm in size we’ll rig them on our custom made jigheads, once we get larger than that we’ll mould it all in one. Once you get over that size you’re less inclined to get body roll in the lure and it’s more just a tail beat from the paddle tail,” explained Griffiths. Once he has his limit Griffiths will fish deeper and wider with his swimbait than he does when chasing limit sized fish.

Among all the soft swimbaits available, the Zerek Flat Shad has developed a following.

“The bigger fish are out wider and we’ll weight the swimbait so we can fish our swimbait slow, retrieving it slow and methodical across the bottom,” explained Craig. “It can be slow and hard going throwing swimbaits, and you can do it for very little return. The key to catching fish on them is to use them, and use them often and not put them down. The more you use them the more confidence you will get in them and confidence is the key to success,” concluded Craig. Another guy who’s a sucker for a big paddle-tail swimbait is Troy Dickson from Wilson Fishing and on the 2016 Zerek BARRA Tour he got to experience the power of throwing XOS bait. “We’d throw the 7” Zerek Flat Shad to fill our limit then one of us would cut that off and we’d tie on the 9” version to catch a big girl. We’d fish the same area, throw the big bait long and hard and retrieve it back with a slow roll. As long as you could feel the thump of the tail beat through the rod you were all good,” explained Troy. While the 9” Flat Shad comes pre-rigged on a on a weighted, chemically sharpened Mustad worm hook Troy retrofitted it, rigging it on a 12/0 Mustad Big Game jighead.

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Tournament Angler Guide GET HARD Carl’s a sucker for a big swimbait, years in the US has seen to that, and it’s the hard variety that he ties on more than any. “There’s something captivating about how a big swimbait works its way through the water and when it comes to a commanding presence and ability to push the buttons of fish a hard

swimbait is hard to go past,” explains Carl. For his barra fishing Carl favours some of his go-to largemouth bass glide baits and jointed swimbaits. Wind blown ambush points such as weed edges and channels featuring broken weed and weed towers are prime places for Carl to throw a swimbait. “The shallow running

SUCCESSFUL SWIMBAITS AND RECOMMENDED TACKLE Lures • 9” Zerek Flat Shad • Bull Shad • Megabass Mag Draft • Deps Slide Swimmer 250 • Gan Craft Jointed Claw • Roman Made • Strike King Shadalicious • Jackall Gantia • Storm Suspending Shad Rod • 7’6” Venom Swimbait • 7’9” Dobyns DC 795 SB • 8’ Dobyns DC 806 HSB • 7’10” Millerods BeastFreak Reel • Shimano Calcutta 300B • Shimano Conquest 400 • Daiwa Zillion Crazy Crank (sub 100gram lures) • Daiwa Luna 256 and 300 (100gram plus lures) • Daiwa Shrapnel C3000H Line • 50lb Power Pro Super 8 Slick • 50 Sunline Castaway • 60 or 80lb fluorocarbon leader


swimbaits are most effective when the barra are looking up or the bait is getting silhouetted against a big sunning sky or moonlit night,” explains Carl. In locations such as these Carl will fish his bait slow and methodical, and he’ll try and cover as much water as he can, ensuring his lure stays in the strike zone as long as it can, and that the lure works as it’s designed to do, sliding, rolling and gliding throughout the retrieve. “Swimbaits aren’t like a jerkbait that you rip and work to get it to swim. In contrast you don’t want to over work them. Largemouth at times will shadow a swimbait for quite some distance before they eat it. I find barra won’t tend to do this, they instead will ambush the lure comes it comes into its feeding zone. So you want to make sure you give them every chance to eat it,” explains Carl. Karim is another angler who loves his hard swimbaits. “My number one swimbait is definitely the big paddle-tail soft plastics but I also love throwing hard swimbaits. I especially like the big glide baits such as the Lucky Crafts, Live Targets and Rapalas, and find fishing them over the top of weed or sinking them

A great time to use swimbaits is at night. down deep to flooded weed an effective way to catch fish,” explains Karim. Karim matches the retrieve to the lure, and of course, the lure to the location that he’s fishing. When fishing big soft paddle-tails he’ll work them with a slow rolling, with occasional burn, retrieve grubbed across the bottom, while for the glide baits he fishes with a slow roll across the top, or with a series of sweeps with an occasional pause.

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THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS Jon Millard is an NQ lure junkie that’s been throwing swimbaits for barra for many years and he’s equally at home throwing hard and soft swimbaits, both in the shallows and in the deep. “I’ve been throwing swimbaits for quite a while. I first started throwing them on the Ross River in Townsville before I even started fishing the dams,” explains Jon. An angler that sees swimbaits as another lure

option to fish in most locations and opportunities rather than just a big bait to throw after dark for kicker fish, Jon’s go-to hard swimbait is of the single jointed variety. “The multi jointed swimbaits may look more natural to the eye with their snaking swimming action but I actually find the barra prefer a more side-to-side gliding action that you get from single joint baits,” explains Jon. A very open-minded angler, Jon will fish swimbaits To page 28

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Tournament Angler Guide

From page 27

super shallow for fish held up in weed, and also down deep to fish stacked up in the main basin. “Swimbaits are very diverse, you get them in different sizes, actions, and sink rates so there’s a bait that you can fish in just about any situation. My favourite hard ones are the Gan Craft Jointed Craw and Megabass Limberlamber, while when it comes to soft swimbaits I like the 6 ½” Strike King Shadalicious, Storm Suspending Shad, and Imakatsu Bacurato,” explains Jon. “I think some people sell swimbaits a little short and don’t take full advantage of what they have to offer. They’re more than a one trick lure variety, and if you only see them as an upgrade option you’re missing out.” POLES APART When it comes to throwing big swimbaits, the gear used to do it is poles apart from standard barra tackle. “The demands and pressures on tackle when throwing swimbaits are immense. You’re talking about lures that are up to 30cm long and 8oz (226g) in weight. The load that a lure of this size puts on a rod is enormous, and the stress and shock it imparts on the reel and line is like nothing

Carl Jocumsen applied a bit of large mouth bass methodology to tempt this Faust kicker on a big hard swimbait. else in cast and retrieve barra fishing,” explains Carl. Successful swimbait fishing requires a dedicated tackle system and in many ways the system starts with the rod. A rod that needs enough flex to be a casting rod, yet the strength to launch a heavy lure a long way. A man that knows rods and rod building intimately is Ian Miller of Millerods fame. The man that makes the swimbait rods that Carl exclusively uses, Ian says there are many key

elements that a swimbait rod needs to have. “When it comes to swimbait rods, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s all about the lure. The main job of the rod is to cast a potentially big, heavy lure so it can be presented in the strike zone, and because swimbaits come in many sizes and weights, the rod must match the lure weights you intend to use. “While barra will take huge swimbaits, the majority of suitable lures currently in vogue are in the range of

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around 50-100g or so. Don’t get too confused by line breaking strains for the rod, just check rod specifications for recommended lure weights to make sure your swimbait rod is suitable for these lure weights (what you’ll likely be using). If you want to throw really ‘big baits’ then you’ll need a more powerful rod, and that will be a completely different animal... because one rod won’t do it all,” Ian says. “When it comes to rod action, the rod should load easily without a severe ‘lockup’ point on the blank. This is kinder to hook-holds of trebles and this smoother action will also assist you to cast more easily as the rod will do the work for you”. “Most swimbait rods are longer than we traditionally use for barra fishing. Quite simply, a long rod will cast further and more easily than a short rod and getting good distance is important when fishing swimbaits. A longer rod can incorporate a nice high reel position for comfortable casting, has plenty of tip length to swing hard with, and has room to incorporate that smooth action. The rod really needs to be getting toward 8ft in length to do this. Obviously, a long, powerful rod can easily become heavy and unpleasant to use, so it’s important to me that the rod should be relatively light in the hand, and well balanced. I also want sensitivity to get feedback so I know the lure is swimming properly, and where it is in relation to structure”. “A swimbait rod that’s designed for casting heavy lures of 100g or more should, by necessity, have enough inherent power to catch barra. But be aware that a swimbait rod that’s designed for smaller baits up to about 60g may not be quite up to the job, especially around bigger fish”. “Swimbaits were developed in the USA and many American rods can be used here, because it really is more about the lure than the species. There are a couple of potential drawbacks though, such as one-piece construction that for rods of this length can be a hassle for many of us, and small guide trains. For these reasons it’s well worth considering the handful of ‘Aussie designed’ swimbait rods, which are already available. And the fact is this is one area of fishing where a good technique-specific rod design not only makes fishing big swimbaits possible, it actually makes it amazingly easy,” concludes Ian. Another man that knows much about swimbait rod design is Troy Dixon from Wilson Fishing. The distributor of Zerek lures and the manufacturer of Venom Rods, Troy has been instrumental in the design of the Venom Swimbait rod, a rod designed by Australians for Australia species and applications. “The rod was designed to cast lures, and not just to lob lures, but to actually load hard and power cast lures a long way. It does that and it will throw swimbaits up to 180g with ease. It also has the strength to allow you to muscle big barra, something

GETTING TACKLED The second import element in the swimbait tackle system is the reel, and traditional low profile barra baitcaster don’t quite cut the mustard, especially when throwing big swimbaits. “Big baits are hard on a reel, with their heavy weight prone to chewing out reel gears due to the relentless grinding of retrieving big swimbaits. Large barrel size reels in the 300-400 size are way to go to handle the rigors of this style of fishing,” explains Ian Miller. Carl has experienced it first hand what heavy swimbaits can do to a reel that’s not up to task, and for him it’s the Shimano Calcutta 300B and Shimano Calcutta Conquest 400 when it comes to hurling swimbaits. “You need the bigger spool reel to handle the power and rotational speed that’s generated during the cast, and you also need the extra line capacity that a big barrel reel delivers,” explains Carl. GET SWIMMING Swimbaits have definitely raised the roof when it comes to the size of baits that anglers will throw, the question is how big is too big and what’s the biggest swimbait that barra are likely to eat?

Fishing Monthly’s Steve Morgan started experimenting with swimbaits over 10 years ago, but found a lot of the earlier models weren’t well suited to barra. not every rod designed for barra can do. What a rod of this caliber does though is that it can then expose weaknesses in your terminal tackle due to the power that you can exert with the rod,” explains Troy. As I mentioned, when it comes to the tackle for swimbaits, it’s a complete system and for the system to work all parts needs to be up to scratch.

“We’ve seen barra with 300mm plus bonies stuck in mouth and we’ve seen the size of some of the bait swimming around in places like Peter Faust Dam. I don’t think barra eating swimbaits that are 300-320mm long is out of the question. Sure, it won’t be very common, but when it does happen it’s going to be like nothing else we’ve experienced in impoundment fishing barra fishing so far.










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Tournament Angler Guide

2016 ABT Rankings and Angler of the Year The cream rose to the top in 2016 with a host champions finishing the tournament season on a high. Victoria’s Warren Carter showed that he’d lost none of his bream fishing prowess while fishing on the BASS Pro tour to finish the year with the Power-Pole BREAM AOY trophy on his mantelpiece. Last year’s nonboater AOY champion Stuart Walker made it back-to-back titles, with his three round wins for the year anchoring his AOY win. Man-on-fire

Mark Crompton finished the season as the number ranking breaming boater while Stuart Walker added the number one nonboater ranking to his AOY title. On the bass front Kris Hickson claimed the Bassman Angler of the Year crown, while bass debutant Paul Aldous picked up the nonboater title. Steve Kanowski finished another BASS Pro season as the number one ranked BASS Pro boater while Brett Hyde ascended to the top of the non-boater rankings tree.

Adrian Wilson once again had a stellar year on the BASS Electric tournament trail wrapping up his season with a solid result in the Bluefin/ ePropulsion BASS Electric Convention to retain his number one BASS Electric Ranking. Wilson however relinquished his AOY crown from 2015 with tournament stalwart Les Smith winning the Angler of the Year title courtesy of a career best year on tour. BREAM kayakers had a big year on tour in 2016 with Carl Dubois breaking

Terry Allwood stands proudly with his family and his 2016 Basscat BASS Pro Grand Final shield.

Warren Carter motored to success in 2016 winning both the Mercury Cup and Power-Pole BREAM AOY titles


through for his maiden Angler of the Year win. With Richard Somerton (2nd) and Chris Burbidge (3rd) just behind him in the points race, it’s year that Dubious is sure to savor, and I’m sure driven to try and repeat. Chris Burbidge continued his year as the king of the rankings, finishing the year at the number one ranked bream kayaker in the country.

BOATER 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Mark Crompton Kris Hickson Steve Gill Warren Carter Cameron Whittam Brad Hodges Ross Cannizzaro Steve Morgan Tom Slater Russell Babekuhl

Barra was once again on the menu in 2016 with the formidable pairing of Craig Griffiths and Karim De Ridder retaining their Team of the Year title. It was a hotly contested race though and while Griffiths and De Ridder were quick out of the gate claiming victory in the first two events of the 2016 Zerek BARRA Tour, they only won the TOY title by one

point of a strong finishing Matthew and Dylan Mott who claimed victory in the final two rounds at Peter Faust Dam. Griffiths and De Ridder finished the tour on a double high with both anglers finishing the year as the number one ranked BARRA angler. For full rankings, records, and earnings of each species and series visit

NON-BOATER 257 250 242 220 210 191 183 180 156 155

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Stuart Walker Clint Voss Grayson Fong Simon Johnson Alex Franchuk Jonathon Thompson Shaun Egan Mike Hodges Rodney O’Sullivan Jesse Rotin

267 217 211 206 203 194 193 186 181 160

BREAM PRO ANGLER OF THE YEAR (AOY) BOATER 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 30

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Warren Carter Cameron Whittam Mark Crompton Steve Morgan Steve Gill Kristoffer Hickson Russell Babekuhl Graham Franklin Jason Harlock Chris Seeto

NON-BOATER 386 382 381 380 380 375 368 360 356 346

t 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Stuart Walker Grayson Fong Clint Northcott Rodney O’Sullivan Jonathan Thompson Bernard Kong Blake O’Grady James Morgan Mick Thompson Tanya Konsul

390 384 379 377 372 366 364 352 350 329


Tournament Angler Guide

BREAM KAYAK RANKINGS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Chris Burbidge Richard Somerton Michael Maas Glenn Allen Simon Morley Carl Dubois Stewart Dunn Ben Phayer Tony Pettie Jason Meech

BREAM KAYAK AOY 333 292 279 279 272 249 245 234 228 221

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Carl Dubois Richard Somerton Chris Burbidge Tony Pettie Michael Halliday Simon Morley Mitch King Aaron Williams Jason Meech Glenn Allen

493 488 456 455 454 454 448 443 438 437

BASS PRO RANKINGS BOATER 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Stephen Kanowski Warren Carter Kristoffer Hickson David Young Paul Gillespie Mark Lennox Peter Phelps Craig Simmons Tom Slater Mitchell Cone

NON-BOATER 238 217 213 205 204 202 193 190 182 177

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Brett Hyde James Reid Peter Morgan Luke Draper Shaun Falkenhagen Jason Martin Ben Randell Tony Neal Cameron Ley Owen McPaul

208 199 194 184 180 170 168 157 150 149


Kris Hickson Brian Everingham Mitchell Cone Simon Marchant Tom Slater Craig Simmons Owen McPaul Mark Lennox Peter Phelps Daniel Brown

NON-BOATER 291 288 288 285 285 282 279 279 276 274

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Paul Aldous Brett Hyde Aimee Thompson Tony Neal Jason Martin Mark King Simon Johnson James Reid Ben Randell Orton Marchant

281 281 280 277 275 273 271 270 266 266


Adrian Wilson Charles West Jonathon Bale Tom Reynolds Les Smith Tim Steenhuis Rebecca Smith Robert Butler Joseph Urquhart Brett Kleinschmidt

386 365 354 310 300 296 268 248 209 202

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 9

BARRA RANKINGS 1 1 3 3 5 5 7 7 9 9

Craig Griffiths Karim De Ridder Ashley Sims Dan Curry Dustin Sippel Rick Napier Jake Mitchell Wally Wilton Geoff Newby Phil Lyons

234 234 181 181 166 166 164 164 160 160

Les Smith Charles West Johathon Bale Adrian Wilson Dean Thompson Chris Osley Brett Kleinschmidt Tom Reynolds Jeremy Mcconnell Tim Stenhuis

472 464 442 382 371 368 350 347 280 280

BARRA TOY 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Humminbird/Ej Todd South Burnett Directions Cairns Custom Sunline Likely Lads Jackall Triton/Edge Rods Rent Star Get Flicked Tree Huggers

Craig Griffiths/Karim Deridder Matthew Mott/Dylan Mott Wally Wilton/Jake Mitchell Trent Short/Matt Gibson Geoff Newby/Phil Lyons Ash Sims/Dan Curry Rick Napier/Dustin Sippel Omar Hamid/Chase Bursnall Shane Snell/Ryan O’Donoghue Mick Weick/Brendan Barnett

299 298 295 293 290 289 271 270 270 270


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