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Australian Bass Tournaments


Tournament Angler Guide

2016 abt calendar


Australia’s number one boater/non-boater bream series will have eight qualifying rounds throughout the year to lead up to the biggest bream event on the calendar – the BREAM Grand Final on St Georges Basin in early December. Don’t miss your chance to go to battle with Australia’s biggest bream names or begin your tournament career in Australia’s ultimate recruitment tournament bream series, the ABT BREAM Series.





20-21 Feb



BREAM Qualifier #1

24-25 Feb


Gippsland Lakes

BREAM Qualifier #2

9-10 Apr



BREAM Qualifier #3

25-26 Apr


St Helens

BREAM Qualifier #4

30 Apr - 1 May


Derwent River

BREAM Qualifier #5

BREAM Qualifiers • Boater $250 • Non Boater $125

11-12 Jun



BREAM Qualifier #6

20-21 Aug


Clarence River

BREAM Qualifier #7

24-25 Aug


Gold Coast

BREAM Qualifier #8

2-4 Dec


St Georges Basin

BREAM Grand Final


BassCat Australia takes the reins of the 2016 BASS Pro Series, with Australia’s longest running bass tournament circuit delivering anglers new challenges for the year in the form of shared weight and river rounds in 2016.





5-6 Mar



BASS Pro Qualifier #1

8-9 Mar


St Clair

BASS Pro Qualifier #2

9-10 Apr


Richmond River

BASS Pro Qualifier #3

16-17 July



BASS Pro Qualifier #4

10-11 Sep


BP or Borumba

BASS Pro Grand Final

BassCat BASS Pro Qualifiers • Boater $300 • Non Boater $100 Guaranteed Entry • Boater $250 • Non Boater $100







13 Mar


Clarrie Hall Dam

17 Apr


Isis Balancing Storage

7-8 May


Toonumbar Dam

BASS Electric #3

BASS Electric #1


Joseph Urquart

0439 764 369

BASS Electric #2


Les Barber

0428 726 857

1pm-6pm, 6am-11am

Adrian Melchior

0415 587 900

10 July


Hinze Dam

BASS Electric #4


Justin Thompson

0421 476 392

27-28 Aug


Borumba Dam

BASS Electric #5

12pm-5pm, 7am-1pm

Steve Noble

0409 239 065

25 Sep


Lake St Clair

BASS Electric #6


Daniel Clancy

0419 690 418

22-23 Oct


Maroon Dam

BASS Electric Convention



(07) 3387 0888

Bluefin Boats and ePropulsion power into another bass season. Featuring six qualifying rounds and a convention, anglers in 2016 will fish for cash and prizes in Australia’s only bass electric series. The series will hit QLD and NSW’s best bass lakes with a combination of single and two-day events, all of which lead to the Bluefin Boats/ePropulsion BASS Electric Convention at Maroon Dam in October. Check out the calendar to find out where and when you can get your Bluefin Boats/ePropulsion BASS Electric fix. BASS Electric Entries: $50 (single day events), $100 (two-day events)








6-7 Feb


Bemm River


27-28 Feb


Blackwood River


5-6 Mar




20 Mar


South Sydney


22-23 Apr


Scamander River


27-28 Apr


Swan River


15 May


St Georges Basin


5 Jun


Gold Coast


26 Jun


Port Macquarie


2-3 July




23-24 July


Lake Macquarie


27-28 Aug


Wallis Lake


10-11 Sep




8-9 Oct


Bribie Island


28-30 Oct



Australian Championship

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8 Nov 9 Nov 11-12 Nov 14-15 Nov


Kinchant Dam Teemburra Dam Peter Faust Peter Faust

BARRA Tour Round #1 BARRA Tour Round #2 BARRA Tour Round #3 BARRA Tour Round #4

The BARRA Tour returns after a record-breaking year in 2015, expanding to four events across the three northern impoundments of Kinchant, Teemburra and the barra mecca that is Peter Faust. Planned in consultation with the anglers, the 2016 tour is slated to be the best ever, starting in the build-up to the full moon and culminating with the epic all-night event on the day of the full moon at Peter Faust. If you want to brush shoulders with some of Australia’s best BARRA tournament anglers and learn the tricks of the trade, plan the time off for a week of the best barra fishing Australia has to offer. The Hobie Kayak BREAM Series, presented by Daiwa, hits the water nation-wide to offer anglers the ultimate kayak bream fix. Featuring events in WA, SA, VIC, NSW and QLD, anglers are spoilt for choice in 2016 with 14 rounds in the series. All events lead to the biggest event of the year, the Australia Championship. The Big Show will see anglers fish from identical factory-supplied Hobie kayaks in a bid to be crowned Grand Final champion for 2015. One Day Events - $80 for an on-time entry ($20 discount available for anglers fishing out of a Hobie kayak during the competion.) Two Day Events - $120 for an on-time entry ($20 discount available for anglers fishing out of a Hobie kayak during the competion.) The entry form and payment will be completed by the close of business on the Friday the week before the event (seven days). Entries received after this time will incur a late payment fee of $40, which competitors are required to pay to enter the tournament. First time entrants on a Hobie Kayak are eligible for a one-off free entry but are not eligible for prizes and their scores will not be recorded.

For stockist information tel. 02 9780 8200


Tournament Angler Guide

Breaming in a Box Kris Hickson

Having such a broad range of events in 2015 required a heck of a lot of tackle at each event. I like to be super prepared, with everything I could possibly need at my disposal. But as usual, like many other anglers, I tend to stick to lures and techniques that I am comfortable with and have worked before, with just a few tweaks here and there to adapt to each tournament situation. In the end, it was pretty easy to go through and come up with one box that would suffice for the whole year (well, a pretty big box). THE YEAR OF THE CRAB Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way – the all popular Cranka Crab. This

lure has taken the bream scene by storm. Although it doesn’t particularly suit my faster style of fishing, these lures catch fish – big fish. I have learned to use it where necessary to great success. Anyone who doesn’t have a good handful of crabs in their kit these days is definitely doing himself or herself an injustice. 
I had a Cranka Crab tied on in every comp in both heavy and light, just waiting for the correct conditions to throw one. There are two main situations where I pick up the Crab. Firstly, when the fish are eating crabs! Secondly, I tend to use the Crab when I find a bit of a short bite on soft plastics. The trebles in the claws seem to get the hook-up when the fish are only picking at the tail of the plastic. I’ll fish these baits around pretty much any structure, shallow

and deep. Colours depend on personal preference but olive, brown and cockle would be my top picks. 
Cranka Crabs are far from the be-all and end-all though. When it comes to bream lures there are plenty of situations where a more traditional approach is necessary. THE ROLL CALL Daiwa Spike I use this suspending crankbait any time I want to cast a long way, to cover rocky or muddy ground, and parallel. The Daiwa Spike is great for walking over shallow structure and off deeper edges or in cracks. 
With some sticky weight added, the Spike gets down deeper, quicker and stays there for longer. It was my standout lure at Mallacoota this year and got a run at every other event this

A ZMan GrubZ was one of Kris’ go-to plastics in 2015. 4

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A season in a box. Hickson’s selection of hardbaits for the tour. year. Colours vary, but all are successful. They include, brown suji shrimp, midnight trout, bleeding tiger prawn, sushi prawn, and matt shad.

Daiwa Presso Rolling Crank DR I use this in similar areas to the Spike, but more so in the nastier country and in snags. It dives a little deeper and has a squarer bib for walking over structure without hanging up quite as much. Being a slightly smaller, fat bodied lure, it’s a more traditional bream crankbait. The DR got a run in the dirty water at the Tweed this year, banging into the rocks and timber to get the attention of the fish. The DR runs the same colours as the Spike.

 Daiwa Presso Rolling Crank MR The Daiwa Presso Rolling Crank MR is my go-to mid-diving crankbait. This lure will normally get a run over the shallower ground, over flats and for running high around structure like bridges

and pontoons. Although it’s a mid-diver it’s quite versatile, and can run from just under the surface to around 4ft. This year I used it in both Clarence tournaments, as well as the Tweed, mainly around the bridges and pontoons. The MR runs the same colours as the Spike and Rolling Crank DR. OSP Dunk Quite similar to the Daiwa Spike, but diving 1-2ft deeper, I use this crash diving crank in the deepest of crankbait areas. The OSP Dunk is perfect for getting right down along rock walls, steep banks and deep reef. When you dig it into the bottom, it makes a heap of racket and gets plenty of attention. It floats really slowly, and the front hooks are far enough away from the bib that it can be slowly walked over the nasty stuff. I tied it on at most comps,

but used it predominately at the Clarence and Hawkesbury on the deeper, steeper banks. The best colours include olive shrimp, and clear shrimp. THE MARK OF Z ZMan 2.5” GrubZ Generally the first plastic I grab out of the box these days is the bloodworm GrubZ, which works absolutely everywhere. I fish it on a multitude of head weights and hook styles to suit the situation. I fished it


Tournament Angler Guide on a #1/0 TT HeadlockZ HD 1/20-1/12oz rigged weedless to get it right into the structure at Mallacoota, Gippsland and the Hawkesbury. I fished it on 1/20oz #1/0 hidden weights around the more shallow structure and areas the fish were high in the water column, and on 1/16oz #1 HeadlockZ wide of the banks and where I needed it to get a bit deeper on the Clarence. Bloodworm is my go-to colour, but

TT’s jigheads are Hickson’s choice when fishing jighead-rigged plastics.

watermelon and gudgeon are also great colours to start with. 2” ZMan GrubZ The little 2” ZMan GrubZ are spot on for when the fish are a bit picky, or feeding on smaller bait. I almost always use them on a 1/16oz #2 HeadlockZ head fished on 3lb and just drifted down and along drop-offs into anything up to 25ft of water. It takes some patience, but when it’s clear and slow they work really well. I gave these lures a good run upriver at the Clarence this year. Colours that do the damage include motor oil and bloodworm. 2.5” ZMan Slim SwimZ The Slim SwimZ look like nothing special, but this little baitfish imitation is one of the best little paddle tails I have used. This lure is a great alternative in profile and action when the GrubZ aren’t doing the job. I find they work best fished around structure like oyster racks, pontoons and wharves – areas where you tend to see more baitfish. They work great on a variety of weights, but tend to swim best on a standard head rather than a hidden weight. The bloodworm Slim SwimZ accounted for a few fish in the racks at the Hawkesbury this year. ZMan CrusteaZ Far from my favourite bait, I pulled the CrusteaZ out at

the Tweed this year to fish weedless as a crab imitation tight in the mangroves. Although I don’t use them a lot, they really do catch fish if you get them in the zone. Bloodworm and pumpkinseed on a 1/20oz #1 HeadlockZ is spot on for fishing them like this. EcogearAqua 50mm Bream Prawn These smelly little globs are typically what I throw in places where I know people feed the fish. Success varies day to day with this bait, so it’s a bit of trial and error to establish if the fish are in the mood to eat them. If they are, then hold on, if not I tend to find it will be the same everywhere that day. The tavern at the Clarence, and the trawlers and tavern at the Tweed were the two places I fished these with success this year. Colours come in white and grey. GETTING DEEP Tiemco Sinking Stick Minnow Another staple lure in the box, The Tiemco Sinking Stick Minnow works well when the fishing is tough. I tied them on 2-3lb to target deepschooled fish in the rivers at the Metung round. It’s small and subtle, with a natural look when it sinks that black bream absolutely adore. The only legal fish I caught at that round was on a shrimp patterned

No bream kit is complete without pink grubs and EcogearAquas. Stick Minnow, however I did catch quite a few undersize on it as well. They also get a run over weed flats, against boat hulls and to mudding fish at Mallacoota when it’s clear. The Sinking Stick Minnow comes in shrimp and ayu. Ecogear VX35 Blade I pretty much only throw two colours of the Ecogear

VX35 Blade, the #439 and #445 brown and black. I used these on schooled fish at Metung and managed a few small fish, but I had greater success at Mallacoota over the deeper flats and wide of the points. During pre-fish the performance of the blade led me to believe that I would use To page 6

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Tournament Angler Guide

From page 5

them all comp until I stumbled on the spike pattern and caught quite a few good fish early in the first session. These blades just work, and it’s always worth keeping a few in the box, no matter where in the country you are. Tiemco Tiny Cicada If there is an event in

summer, some tiny black cicadas have to be in the box. There were a few times in the Grand Final when they came in handy, thrown under the trees when the sun came out and the cicadas were chirping. Ecogear Grass Minnow M 2.5” Okiami (pink grub) Fished on a worm hook, the Ecogear Grass Minnow

is my go-to search bait if there are prawns about. They are perfect to see what is around on a pre-fish, and just as good at catching them come comp day. These little prawn imitations excel when dropped back under the surface if the fish aren’t keen on eating right off the top.

The fruits of Kris’ red-hot year. Procure Scent The three main attractants I have on the deck include crab, shrimp and mullet. For reasons that are selfexplanatory, use crab on the crab patterns, shrimp on the shrimp patterns and mullet on everything else. Make sure

The Daiwa Presso rolling crank got plenty of work in 2015. HICKSON’S STANDOUT LURES OF THE TOUR Place Primary Tweed: Cranka Crab Heavy – spotted Gippsland Lakes: Everything in the box! Mallacoota: Daiwa Tournament Spike brown suji shrimp Hawkesbury River: ZMan 2.5” GrubZ bloodworm 1/16oz #1/0H HeadlockZ Clarence River: Cranka Crab Heavy – cockle Grand Final: Cranka Crab Heavy – olive

your one all-encompassing box is deep enough to fit them in. Last of all, a bit of sticky weight allows you to change the buoyancy of a lure that can make all the difference, as I found out at Mallacoota this year. Sticky weight is

perfect if you need to get a lure deeper, make it suspend or cast that little bit further. There were a whole lot of other lures that caught fish this year, however, those mentioned are the standouts and what yielded the most success.

Secondary ZMan 2” CrusteaZ bloodworm/ 1/20oz #1 Light Wire HeadlockZ Everything left in the box. Ecogear VX35 #445 Cranka Crab Light – brown Daiwa Tournament Spike – brown suji shrimp Daiwa Tournament Spike Sushi Prawn and ZMan 2.5” GrubZ bloodworm 1/16oz #1 HeadlockZ Light



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Tournament Angler Guide

The winds of change ABT

This year marks the first dramatic change to how the BASS Pro Series has been run since its inception in the year 1999. A new title sponsor, a new format and new venues will broaden the horizons of Australian bassers as ABT moves into the next phase of tournament angling in Australia.

BassCat sits atop the banner in 2016 as the new title sponsor and brings with it a wealth of opportunity for anglers that succeed throughout the year. Australian Bassmaster Elite Series pro Carl Jocumsen will be running a BassCat during the 2016 Elites season and ABT again is offering the greatest USA fishing experience as the Grand Final prize. Peter Phelps, who won the Grand Final in 2015, will be flying to the New York

and Vermont border and the picturesque Lake Champlain for the B.A.S.S. Northern Open in September. BassCat produce some of the finest fibreglass bass boats in the world, and you’ll be able to see a number of boats up close and personal on the tournament trail in 2016. A drastically new look format will challenge anglers’ strategy as well as their practical skills. The two-fish limit imposed by Australian Fisheries has always been a Anthony Thorpe getting set for the start.

Warren Carter punches out a cast on the BASS Pro Tour.

challenge for the tournament bass organizations, and a move to the shared weight format will see the bag limit per session double to four per boat, allowing eventual winners to weigh a 12/12 tournament limit for the first time in Australia. Previously, ABT segmented the BASS Pro events into multiple sessions. “In the early days we ran with five sessions over two days, then changed to three sessions in around 2001,” explained ABT’s Simon Goldsmith. “The move to shared weight will reward anglers who find consistency

on the water.” 2015 Grand Final champion Peter Phelps favours the move to reward consistent fishing in 2016, and admits had the format changed in the previous year, he might have approached the Glenbawn Grand Final a little differently. “I definitely would have adjusted my game plan,” he said. “I was confident of catching good size fish each session on jigs, but I wasn’t getting many. Had it been shared weight I would have definitely worked as a team with my non-boater and had him fish a reaction bait up


ahead of the boat.” Phelps only landed his second keeper of the final session in the last five minutes – had it been shared weight and he was able to deliver a one-two punch all morning, he mightn’t have needed to scramble in the dying moments. The change to shared weight is definitely going to challenge anglers’ game plans as they walk the line of when to visit the weigh master in 2016. The weigh-in process changes to accommodate with an open ‘slot style’ weigh-in commencing on Saturday around 9:30am

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Tournament Angler Guide and running for 90 minutes. Anglers have the choice as to when they return to weigh in their morning catch. Weigh in early and maximise the afternoon period, or fish until the last minute hoping to upgrade and build a buffer going into the afternoon. As soon as the morning’s catch has been weighed and released, anglers are then permitted to return to the arena immediately to

continue fishing for their afternoon limit. This change allows for the familiar two sessions without the need to stop and start in the middle of the day. This allows anglers to finish before dark and have time to recuperate for Sunday’s morning session. Jocumsen credits the shared weight format for his transition into the Bassmaster Elites following his success in the

Catching bass like these two could see you heading to the US to fish with Carl Jocumsen.

US Open in 2009. “Shared weight is the way of the future for people wanting to succeed in tournament fishing,” he said. “My experience at the US Open would have been markedly different had I been competing with my boater for the fish rather than working together to put together our heaviest stringer.” Had Jocumsen not experienced the success of his runner-up finish in his first US event, he might not have gathered the confidence to chase his dream over the last five years. The addition of a river round has been a talking point among anglers and sponsors for some time. Late in 2015, ABT ran a trial bass event on the picturesque Richmond River on the far northern NSW coast. “Our trial event was a fantastic success,” explained ABT’s Simon Goldsmith. “The venue is the perfect location for our first foray into rivers for the BassCat BASS Pro series in 2016. Running a river event obviously has its ups and downs, but we feel it’s the right time to step out of what we’ve been doing over the last decade and propel tournament bass fishing to new heights.” Craig Simmons, BassCat

Shared weight events will bring a team focus to bass comps in 2016. Australia’s managing director and avid tournament fisherman, is thrilled at the changes slated for 2016, believing it’s the right way forward to produce growth in what is a more crowded tournament scene than ever before. The year culminates with the Grand Final returning to Queensland and slated for either Lake Bjelke-Petersen or Borumba Dam, depending on water levels and quality. ABT hasn’t run a major event on Borumba since the MegaBucks of 2007, with Bjelke-Petersen featuring on the schedule in 2015 where Grant Clements notched his first pro level victory. “Both Bjelke-Petersen

and Borumba have fished exceptionally well over 2015, so we are excited to bring the Grand Final back to one of these fantastic QLD impoundments,” Goldsmith declared. “Water level and quality will be the factors that determine exactly where anglers will vie for the title of Grand Final champion, and anglers can expect an announcement well in time to give them opportunity to prepare for the event.” The BASS Pro series has been the cornerstone of ABT’s events over the past 15 years. We have looked into the future with determination to grow the sport of tournament fishing and accelerate the learning curve for young

or fresh anglers entering into competitive fishing. There’s no doubt these changes will make for some exciting finishes to the four qualifying rounds throughout the year. New formats, new sponsors and new venues are the headline of what is sure to be an exciting challenge for anglers as they look to succeed at the top level.

Scan this QR code to see Carl Jocumsen talk about what’s new.

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Tournament Angler Guide

Hobie Kayak BREAM Series presented by Daiwa Bob Finlay

Hobie Cat Australasia teamed up with ABT in 2009 for the inaugural Hobie Kayak BREAM Series, with the first kayak fishing event held on the Parramatta River, at Bayview Park Concord in Sydney. It was the first in a series of four tournaments that culminated in the Australian Championship, which took place at Forster in New South Wales. Since those fledgling days, Hobie Fishing has maintained its commitment to the sport and the marine industry, and the massive growth in kayak fishing in Australia is reflected in the interest and participation numbers in the Hobie Fishing tournaments. Hobie Fishing allows owners of any brand of sit-on kayak to participate in their tournaments, but supplies all anglers with brand new Hobie factory supplied Hobie MirageDrive kayaks for those who qualify for the annual Australian Championship. This unique format allows anglers from each state to compete and creates a level playing field, providing a 10

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true test of fishing skills. Hobie has shown it is dedicated to the development of kayak fishing tournaments in Australia and their commitment to presenting professionally run events at the highest standard has taken the competitive kayak fishing scene in this country to the highest standard in

the world. Tournaments are now held throughout Australia with the Hobie Fishing Series becoming the only truly national kayak fishing series and the premier kayak series in the country. The hugely successful 2015 season attracted both male and female entries with up to 70-80 competitors in a

number of tournaments in the 14 round season. NEW DIVISIONS INTRODUCED IN 2016 To create even more interest and excitement in the 2016 Hobie Fishing Series presented by Daiwa, in tandem with the usual open division, Hobie Fishing has introduced new divisions

Top: Scott Baker from Mornington Victoria, was the 2011 Hobie Fishing World Champion. Here he sight casts at fish feeding on rocky edges in Lake Macquarie, NSW on Day Two of the 2015 Hobie Kayak Bream Australian Championship. Above: Glenn Allen from Killarney Vale in NSW works the racks in the Forster round of the Hobie Kayak Fishing Series. Allen finished in second place in the tournament and won a place on the Australian team to compete in the 2015 Hobie Fishing World Championships in China.

in all tournaments for the coming season. FIRST TIMER ENTRY Another exciting innovation by Hobie Fishing in 2016 is the ‘First Timer Entry.’ This has been established to encourage new anglers to enter the tournament scene. An angler who enters a Hobie Fishing Series tournament for the first time has the option to have the requirement of being an ABT member waived and they will not be required to pay an entry fee. ‘First Timers’ will be able to experience and learn the tournament process – including briefings, key tags, weigh-in bags and bump tubs, weighing in of fish on stage, fish care and releasing of fish. Most importantly they will experience how enjoyable and friendly Hobie Fishing Series tournaments are and observe successful anglers being rewarded for doing what they love to do while sharing their passion with like-minded people. This is an excellent opportunity for those considering entering a Hobie Fishing kayak tournament to taste, to learn and to enjoy all that the Hobie Fishing tournament lifestyle has to offer.

For further information on the new divisions and first time entries go to www. THE 2016 CALENDAR Summer/Autumn The 2016 series will hit some new and exciting waterways, and revisit some old favourites. The season will feature a return to one-day and two-day events as well as the awesome World Championship qualifying rounds from which six anglers will earn themselves a place on the team to represent Australia at the Hobie Fishing World Championship of kayak fishing. After last season’s amazing participation numbers, an absolutely huge turnout of excited anglers is once again expected to hit the monster black bream with a bang! The legendary Bemm River will host the season opener on 6-7 February. Bemm has gained an international fishing reputation after the third Hobie Fishing World Championship was contested there in 2013. To continue Bemm’s association with the Hobie Fishing World Championship, the season’s first tournament will also be the first qualifying round for the 2016

World Championship which will be held at a yet to be disclosed location. Western Australia - the booming state of Hobie Fishing tournament anglers in Oz - gets the next bite of the bream, on Blackwood River which sits at the head of a staggering 41 tributaries on the continent’s west coast. The Australian Championship was held at Mandurah just outside of Perth at the close of the 2014 series, and the numbers registering for Hobie Fishing tournaments in WA since then


Tournament Angler Guide

2016 NEW HOBIE FISHING SERIES (PRESENTED BY DAIWA) TOURNAMENT DIVISIONS Division Age limits (determined as at 31 December 2016) Youth 16-21 (must be 16 years on the day of the tournament and under 21 years on 31 December 2016) Womens 16+ (must be 16 years on the day of tournament) Masters 60-64 Grand Masters 65+ have swelled dramatically. This year participation is expected to reach a whole new level of interest from the Sandgropers. You deserve this one WA - you’ve hooked another big one! Blackwood River will be the second World Championship qualifying round for 2016.

incredible event, it’s the fourth in the series of World Championship qualifying rounds – again, yes you read it right! Tassie has a World Qualifier event, the first time one has been held off

The Hobie Fishing big bream battle then heads to Victoria’s East Gippsland region for ‘Mallacoota Madness in March’, where anglers will battle it out on one of Victoria’s finest bream fisheries on 5-6 March. Every angler who has fished Mallacoota loves the

2013 Australian Champion Darryl Head from Basin View in NSW launches into a drop-off, from one of the brand new, fully kitted out factory supplied Hobie Pro Angler 14 kayaks. These were supplied to all anglers that competed in the 2015 Hobie Kayak Bream Australian Championships on Lake Macquarie.

As the sun rises over East Gippsland in Victoria, a section of the huge field of 86 kayak anglers head off from the Bemm River starting line in the first tournament of the 2015 Hobie Kayak Fishing Series.

challenge it offers, and being the third in the series of five World Qualifiers, this round could have massive rewards. Sydney fires up on 20 March, with the first ‘one day wonder’ event of the year, the opening tournament in a massive season of kayak fishing for NSW. In late April the Hobie

Fishing road show then heads across the Tasman, for the first time since 2013, for a sensational bream busting week. Anglers will smash into the waters around Scamander on the north east coast of Tassie for a Friday and Saturday tournament. Yes, you read it right! To make this an even more

the mainland. But wait, there’s more. Four days later, the Hobie Fishing tournament train rolls further south, 90km down the Van Diemen’s Land coast to Swan River for a second two-day tournament on the ‘Apple Isle.’ Now, for those inexperienced To page 12

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Tournament Angler Guide


From page 11

kayak tournament anglers this may not seem much, but for the rest of you, hold onto to your tackle boxes and get this – the tournament is held on a Wednesday and Thursday. Whoa! A midweek tournament and two events


in just one week in Tassie – unbelievable but true! Two weeks later, Hobie Fishing is back on the mainland on the NSW South


For ful l


‘The Basin’ is working, this could be a seriously good competition for a novice tournament angler to see what Hobie kayak tournaments are all about. Winter/spring June sees the seasons change and the tournaments

Geoff Alford from Fyshwick in the ACT found himself a small cove and slow rolled a crankbait over the mud flats on the north end of Lake Macquarie during the 2015 Hobie Bream Australian Championship.

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head up north with the first ‘Winter Warmer’ heating up in the Gold Coast canals on 5 June. The event will be Queenslanders’ first

first Hobie Fishing World Championship back in 2011. Mandurah will see the tournament schedule head back for a second visit to Western Australia with anglers competing over the weekend of 2-3 July. Lines will tighten on Lake Macquarie in NSW just a few weeks later on 23-24 July. Anglers will be happy to travel to the picturesque Wallis Lake just south of Forster for the only August tournament, run on 27-28 August. The washboards, racks and flats of the lake always excite bream anglers, but chasing some sweet prize money always adds a little more excitement to a day on the water. Hang in there! It’s the final World Qualifying Round and your last chance to get a hook in to represent your country. The last round of the season is way down south on the Victoria and South Australia border, at Nelson in early September. This is the last chance for anglers to crank a qualifying spot in the

Dan Brady from Croydon in Victoria pulls a keeper on board his Hobie Pro Angler at the mouth of the Bemm River in round one of the 2015 Hobie Kayak Bream Series. Coast with Round 7 kicking off on the doorstep of Hobie Fishing in Australia, St Georges Basin. ‘The Basin’ is within easy reach of Canberra, Wollongong and Sydney and this waterway can really turn it on, so if conditions are right and

hometown event for the year, and the first of two ‘one day-ers’ for the month. The second one-day event on 26 June will be the first visit in a couple of seasons to magnificent Port Macquarie on the NSW mid-north coast, the scene of the very

Australian Championship, which will be held thousands of kilometres further north on the pristine waters of Queensland’s Bribie Island, in October. That’s right, the Australian Championship is heading to Queensland.


Madeline Hill from The Ponds in NSW is one of a growing number of female anglers competing in the Hobie Kayak Bream Series presented by Daiwa. 12

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Tournament Angler Guide

The natural progression Brad Roberts

No one would argue that rising through the non-boater ranks is one of the best ways to start and also fast track a fishing career. The amount of knowledge you are constantly surrounded by in this situation is immense and uplifting. However, after you’ve fished as a non-boater numerous times, and on many different tournament arenas, you will find yourself having your own ideas of where and how to attack the waterway come tournament day – ideas which tend to be more in line with your strengths as an angler. Once you reach this point, it may be time for you to take your tournament fishing to the next level. After three inspiring seasons fishing in the non-boater side of the draw, I made the step up, recently completing my first season fishing with the boating pros. If you’re thinking of making the switch, here are some tips on making a smooth and positive transition. HOW DO I KNOW I’M READY? So you’ve been fishing 14

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as a non-boater for a few years now and you’re wondering whether you should make the switch up to the main game – fishing against the best of the best in Australia. But when is the right time to cross over? Each individual is different, but the more you think about making the move, the more ready you are! You just might not realise it yet. Once you reach the crossroads, you can choose to just continue doing what you’ve always done – or you can turn the corner, and take your fishing career to the next level! That bend in the road will present you with the kind of steep learning curve you’ll remember from your first couple of tournaments as a non-boater. Like I mentioned earlier, every angler is different and has their own set of goals when it comes to what they want to achieve from tournament fishing. However, if your goals include improving your skills and becoming the best you can be, you’ll want to join the boater division. It will make you a better angler. After lengthy conversations with friends

in the tournament circle, both boaters and non-boaters (also the non-boaters I’ve had on board with me during tournaments over the past 12 months) I’ve noticed a few common themes. Most relate to confidence. There are many competitors who own a tournament-style boat but choose to fish in the non-boater category, and I suspect that quite a few of these guys (though certainly not all) lack the self-belief required to progress. I was undecided for a while myself, but I’ve since discovered there’s no feeling in the world like the take-off on the first morning of competition, knowing that you’re in charge of your own destiny! I completely understand that some people are happy to stick with the non-boater category; everyone has different goals and aspirations. However, if you want to be the best angler you can be, you have to take calculated risks and throw yourself in the deep end once in a while! GOAL SETTING As with any facet of life, setting yourself goals is the key to success. I like to set myself one large goal plus some smaller goals to use

Top: Brad Roberts flicks a plastic under a jetty searching for those elusive bream. Above: Tristan Taylor and Dave McKenzie, have won multiple back-to-back QLD Bream Open titles through hard work and many years of experience as tournament boaters.

as stepping stones to keep me on track. As an example, a large goal for the season might be AOY honours or grand final qualification. A smaller medium-term goal (typically one per event) might be to finish in the top 10 or to catch five legals each day of a tournament. Then there are my shortterm goals. These differ as the seasons change, but usually revolve strongly around the upcoming comps I have planned. For instance, if I know I have a comp coming up on a place like Sydney Harbour in summer, I’ll go out of my way to spend a day or two on the water practicing my casting around structure. The reason is because I know from past events that most fish are caught this way, and that I’ll have to be able to pull fish out of places that many other anglers can’t if I want to finish well up on the leader board. Other short-term goals can include breaking down new bodies of water, practice for comps and learning new techniques to make you more versatile as an angler. THE MENTAL SIDE The mental side of fishing, and tournament fishing in particular, has received a lot of attention in

recent times, and rightly so. There aren’t many sports out there with as many variables as tournament fishing, and that’s what keeps bringing us back! There is no hiding the fact that your first few tournaments as a boater are when you’ll be at your most vulnerable, but with some methodical preparation you can make the transition a lot smoother. Being able to block out nerves is no easy task. However, the ability to do so and control emotion will allow you to fish in the moment and make more calculated decisions while under the time pressure of a tournament situation. You’ll achieve this calm mindset by putting in the time on the water, and there is no substitute. Another thing that can keep you feeling upbeat is to taking the positives out of small wins throughout the day, be it during practice or on comp day. Focussing on small things and taking note of patterns can help with this. Preparation and planning have been a huge part of my first year fishing as a boater. Google Maps and Navionics charts have become even better friends of mine while practicing for tournaments, particularly

those tournaments held on unfamiliar waterways. I thoroughly enjoy the planning phase for each event, and I spend as much time as I can to familiarise myself with waterways before the tournament comes around. This reduces my stress levels during the pre-fish, and ultimately during the tournament. On local lakes and those that I can practice on before the pre-fish ban starts, I aim to break the water down into sections and concentrate on one section per day. If I

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neglect to do this, I find myself spending too much time driving and not enough time fishing. Breaking the water down helps me to fish more thoroughly and efficiently. KEYS TO SUCCESS The best competitors are those who are the most consistent, and in my opinion the biggest key to consistency is adaptability. Tournament fishing forces us to fish in all conditions, and on many different and often unfamiliar waterways. For this reason, it’s those

anglers who can predict what the fish will do in different situations (whether it be seasonal change or weather conditions) and adapt to this who nearly always come out on top. In saying this, the ability to think outside the square regularly produces the goods for some competitors. These guys have the nerve and patience to stick it out knowing they’re employing a method that’s completely left of field, yet potentially deadly on its day. Being able to address

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Tournament Angler Guide

your own weaknesses and ‘self coach’ is a great habit to get into as you progress. There’s usually nobody else to do it for you, so the more you can address your angling shortcomings, the better you will become. These obstacles don’t have to be anything difficult either; sometimes the things we think are smaller and less significant can be the ones that come back to haunt us the most. It could be something as simple as being able to control an electric motor properly in rough water. This can open up so many more options in these conditions, and save you from moving to less productive areas to escape wind. Being able to hone skills to suit particular waterways or events is an extension of this. It’s often hard enough to get the time off work and other commitments to get to competitions, let alone justify the time it would take to practice on interstate tournament venues. However, those anglers with a bit of creativity and patience will work their way around this. This is where using tools such as past event reports and Google Earth is invaluable. You can look for areas of similar structure on To page 16

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Tournament Angler Guide

From page 15

both your local waterway and the tournament venue, and target those areas in preparation for the upcoming tournament. It all helps to build confidence and reduce downtime while competing in events where time isn’t on your side. EXPERT OPINIONS I took the time to speak with fellow competitors Ross Cannizzaro, Kris Hickson, Ben Shuey and Zac O’Sullivan to run through

their ideas on the best way to make a smooth transition from non-boater to boater, and also how they go about preparing for each of their tournaments. The one theme which featured strongly with each individual was preparation. They all said how important it is to sit down before each event and research the venue, past event results (whether it be their own or from event reports) and seasonal patterns. Boat preparation

was also a factor. Continuing on from this is the way in which they all view pre practice for a particular event. They all agreed that for local events, they will try to fish the arena before the pre-fish ban kicks in, however for non-local and interstate events these guys turn their efforts in preparation more toward web-based avenues such as Google Earth and past tournament reports, combining these with their

One of the ultimate goals of tournament angling is to take out a BREAM Grand Final. Liam Carruthers achieved the title of BREAM Series Grand Final Champion of 2015, after a lot of hard work, determination, and preparation.

existing knowledge to create a plan for their pre-fish day at the very least. While talking to the guys I also asked for their top five tips on making a smooth and positive transition. Ross Cannizzaro Ross has been extremely successful over the past few years, including winning this year’s Hawkesbury River ABT qualifier, a second place at Mallacoota and a win with his teammate Alan at the BETS teams Grand Final on Lake Macquarie. Here are his tips. 1. Believe in yourself and your ability. You need to be at the top of your game each and every time you hit the water for a tournament. Back yourself and your judgement in every situation. 2. Prepare your boat in a way that allows everything to be within easy reach for fast and easy re-rigging, to maximise your fishing time. 3. Work on your boat position. Give yourself the best possible chance at extracting fish from cover. 4. Keep a diary of patterns and techniques on all non-local tournament arenas. It may be a number of years before you get back there to fish again so you want to hit the ground running when you do. 5. Practice! Nothing can

Dave Young shows off his tournament angling skills with two fat bass. top on-water experience, especially in your first few years. Make the extra effort to get out there as often as possible and practice a range of techniques under different conditions. Kris Hickson Kris has had an outstanding last few years by winning the ABT BREAM Grand Final in 2014 and following up by taking out the Angler of the Year (AOY) crown

this year. He believes a competitor’s attitude is an important factor. 1. Brush up on all the rules and etiquette. Now that you’re running the boat it’s your responsibility to know them. 2. Remember how you wanted to be treated when you were a non-boater and try your best to replicate that for the non-boaters you have. You might see that it’s not as easy as it seems to

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Tournament Angler Guide give everyone a fair shot, but be as reasonable as possible without sacrificing your own opportunities. 3. Figure out what style of fishing suits you most, now that you are in control of the boat, and work on it. When you were at the back of the boat you had to adapt to what the guy at the front was doing, but now you have the reins so try to fish

He’s had top 10 finishes in each. He even managed to qualify for this year’s BREAM Grand Final in both the non-boater and boater categories. He’s all about the preparation. 1. You have to be organised! You can never be too organised when it comes to things like lure colours and sizes. Also regular maintenance of boat, motor


of the bunch and has had a number of successful years as a non-boater in the past. This year he made the step up to the boater category in a classy fashion, with a number of consistent results, and he finished the year ranked 15th in the Angler of the Year race. He has some practical ideas to make your experience easier.

Tournament angling is essentially a community, where anglers can have a laugh, get to know one another, and hone their fishing skills among friends. Friendly competition makes it easy for non-boaters to advance their tournament careers and maybe end up as a boater. to your strengths. 4. Most boaters have spent a lot of time working out each arena and spots they like to call their own. There is only so much water out there and the majority of arenas have been fished enough that most of it is fair game, but if a previous boater has shown you any sneaky little places that they have worked out, your best bet is to leave it to them. 5. BUY MORE GEAR! It’s your boat now so fill that sucker up. Ben Shuey Ben has been fishing tournaments for a number of years across multiple states, and competes in a range of events from teams tournaments to ABT boater and non-boater events.

and trailer is a must. 2. Practice your knots – a lot! Tournaments will test every facet of your fishing so the better your knots are the harder you can pull to extract fish from cover. It also helps to be able to re-rig quickly when you bust off or change lures. 3. Learn how to read and understand your sounder so you’re confident in it in all situations. 4. Practice driving your boat in all weather conditions, both on the main motor and the electric. This is a must. 5. Finally, research. You can never do too much research on tournament venues, past reports and maps. Try to organise this so you can fish to your strengths. Zac O’Sullivan Zac is the youngest

1. Plan your year, and organise to share accommodation to save costs. For example, a non-boater as a travel partner will also help with pre-fish, sharing ideas and different techniques. 2. Preparation is the key with your boat and gear. Have everything organised and in its place so it’s easy to find on the run. 3. Back yourself and stick to your guns. Fish similar areas on foreign waterways as you would on your home water. 4. Do your research on each waterway, check Google Earth and previous tournament reports. 5. Make sure you learn something from event (keep a diary to help with this) and have fun!

As a non-boater, you will learn essential tricks of the trade on your tournament career path as well as getting to spend time with some amazing anglers. abt

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Tournament Angler Guide

Solving the jig-saw puzzle Tom Slater

When Peter Phelps held the Bass Pro Grand Final trophy aloft in October 2015, he broadcast to the wider bass fishing community a new weapon anglers could add to their arsenal. When you look back through the ABT BASS record books, the lures and techniques used to win read like your local pub menu that hasn’t changed in a decade. The same old offerings get tossed around at every tournament, with spinnerbaits and soft plastics, the chicken parmies of the tournament scene. Someone might add a beetle spin, and one might dip the tail, but that’s just tweaking existing techniques. Last October we witnessed something new and for the first time, a major ABT BASS tournament was won using a skirted jig. I was fortunate enough to witness the excitement

in our camp as Mitchell Cone led Peter going into the final session. Both were fishing the same area, and both were keyed into the jig bite that everyone else overlooked (including me). What transpired in October at Glenbawn was over 12 months in the making. Peter and Mitch first started experimenting with jigs many years ago. The spring of 2014 was when they really keyed into their first good jig bite at Glenbawn, and when the ABT calendar was set for 2015, they marked the Grand Final as a potential jig fishing tournament. WHAT IS A SKIRTED JIG? A skirted jig is essentially a lead or tungsten jighead, fitted with a brush guard to help reduce snagging, with a skirt much like a spinnerbait attached to the head. Skirted jigs are primarily used in Australia to imitate a redclaw or yabby. There are numerous styles of jigs (e.g. swim and football) available and the difference between them is usually the shape of

EQUIPMENT Rod: Medium action baitcast from 6’10” to 7’6” (Mitch uses Millerods Blade Freak, Peter uses 13 Fishing ENVY Black 73M) Reel: High speed baitcast – at least 6.6:1 anywhere up to 8.1:1 Line: 15lb braid, leader varying depending on structure from 8-16lb. 18

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the moulded head. A swim jig has a streamlined head, with the line tie coming out of the front most point of the head, while a football jig has an oblong ‘football’ shaped head with a line tie protruding out of the top of the head. These subtle differences affect how the jig performs in the water. Football jigs are designed to drag along the bottom with the football shaped head preventing the jig from rolling onto its side, eliminating hang-ups. If you tried dragging a swim jig you would catch the bottom a lot more often than you’d catch fish. On the other hand, if you wanted to swim a jig through weed or cover, the blunt shape of a football jig would tend to hang-up more often than the streamlined design of a swim jig. There’s a time and a place for all jig types, but to get started, Peter recommends sticking to a football or stand-up shape that lends itself to beingdragged along the bottom. You can also find differences in the skirt of a jig. There are predominantly two types of skirt material, silicon and living rubber. Silicon is available in a broader assortment of colours but sometimes lacks the

action and movement of living rubber, which flares very well underwater – especially in cold water. There’s also the size of the material to consider – you can commonly buy both regular and fine cut silicon, as well as fine size living rubber, which can add even more flare to the skirt. PICK A JIG As with many techniques that originate overseas and are imported to Australia, they often require some sort of modification to either the equipment itself, or how we use the equipment to effectively target our Australian species. In the case of the skirted jig, it’s the jig itself we have to look closely at. As you discover the hundreds of different types of jigs on the market worldwide, it’s easy to get confused. Australian companies such as Bassman, with the help from their pro anglers like Peter, are in the process of developing jigs specifically suited to our conditions. International brands such as Pro’s Factory (a Japanese jig manufacturer) will become more available to Australian fishers through local distributors in 2016. The size and gauge of the hook is the most frustrating element of building the right jig, and a lot of the jigs that are available

Top: A glorious day led Phelps to take the win, in a seriously tight competition. Middle: Peter Phelps and Mitchell Cone developed a jig bite theory over many years of trial and error, and the 2015 ABT Bass Grand Final was their opportunity to show the professional bass fishing community the merits of this technique. Bottom: Mitchell Cone with two excellent fish captured on a jig.

Tournament Angler Guide have a hook that’s too big for our much smaller-mouthed bass. Peter and Mitch both prefer a #2/0 sized hook for

appendages more accurately imitates the prey you are trying to replicate. Plastics such as the Keitech Crazy Flapper

Not only did Phelps take out the championship title, he also opened the conversation on jig technique for all bass anglers to consider. Australian bass jig fishing. Jigs are normally fished with some sort of soft plastic trailer. This bulks out the profile of the jig, giving a more natural look and feel. You can use any number of various soft plastics but a plastic with two flapping

are an excellent choice when looking for trailers. WHAT TO DO Skirted jigs have been around for over half a century, and I’m sure that most Australian tournament bass fisherman have used one briefly in the past. What

so many have not done, is put the time and effort into working out exactly how to use these lures to effectively target and catch Australian bass. The best time to target bass on a skirted jig is September through to early summer. During this time the bass are active and patrol the shallow waters as they warm from a long, cold winter. This also coincides with the spawning season for the yabby and redclaw, as these species begin to spawn when water temperatures exceed 16°C. Peter and Mitch had their first dose of really consistent success in the spring of 2014. During this time of year, the bass are found shallow and feed aggressively on almost every technique you could imagine. It’s easy to fall back on tried and true techniques when you know you can pick up a familiar lure and enjoy almost immediate success. But this can be the best time to experiment with new ideas and gain confidence. Jigs are best used when you know an area or particular spot is holding fish. It is a slow presentation, and covering vast amounts of water fishing a jig is time consuming. Fishing a jig properly requires patience; you need to crawl and hop the jig slowly along the bottom. This isn’t just a ‘cast it out and wind it back’


Peter and Mitch carry an assortment of jigs in a number of different weights. Usually a 1/4, 3/8 or 1/2oz will cover almost all scenarios as you can vary the rate of descent by using a larger trailer, or a trailer with more action.

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0425 230 964 Pete fishes the rock wall during the Grand Final. Often a last minute capture can win the day – Pete can attest to that!



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Tournament Angler Guide

From page 19

scenario. Rock walls offer the perfect terrain to fish a jig. In Glenbawn Dam, the rock walls that scatter the upper section of the lake are consistent fish producers.

Peter locked onto this early in the tournament and rode it for the first two sessions. Cast the jig right up shallow, then gently hop the jig from one rock, letting it fall onto the one below. The key here is not letting it come away

from the wall and sink too far, too quickly. If it sinks more than a foot, then you’ve hopped it too hard. During low light hours, bass will more than likely be roaming around the lake. This can be a tougher

time to catch numbers on jigs, however, after much practice we have established that big bass love to eat a jig. In these times you want to target ‘highways’ – areas where bass will move into or along a bank. The

ABT BASS Grand Final Champion Peter Phelps displays the fruits of his labour – a fat Glenbawn bass caught crawling a jig on a steep rocky bank. inside breaks of a weed line along a bank is the perfect place, as bass can either be hiding just inside the weed or patrolling the gap between the bank and the weed edge. Crawling a jig along the bottom in that gap is a fantastic way to target fish before the sun starts beating down. This was the pattern Mitch Cone used to lead the ABT Bass Grand Final after two sessions. The large fish vacated Mitch’s key areas on Sunday and left him in 4th place. THE JIGS 1/4, 3/8 or 1/2oz are the most popular, paired with a small hook around #2/0 Pepper Custom Baits Micro Jig Pro’s Factory OP Jig Jackall TG Spade Jig Pro’s Factory Motion Jig Bassman Phelpsy’s Finesse Jig Trailers Gulp Crabby Berkley Chigger Craw Keitech Crazy Flapper Keitech Little Spider Netbait Paca Chunk Jackall Chunk Craw As the sun rises fish tend to pull closer to structure, whether it’s standing timber, lay-downs or weed. This where the jig really shines! In the low light scenario above, the simple transition to make as the sun rises is to move to the outside edge of the weed. Try somewhere between 8-12ft, and work the edges of the deeper weed that the bass will use to ambush prey. Standing or lay-down timber is another perfect spot to target when the sun rises. Fish will pull in behind timber into the small shade pocket created by the tree. With reaction style baits like a lipless vibration or a spinnerbait, your lure will only be in the strike zone for a few seconds; you will simply be hoping to draw the fish out. However, you can drop a jig quietly down a standing tree, or flip it into a lay-down and leave it there for a long time, just gently hopping or crawling the jig around the structure drawing a strike out of a fish that perhaps might not have bitten a faster moving presentation. This was the pattern that really achieved results for Peter in the final session. He was struggling, with only one fish in the well and only 30 minutes

to go. Leaving the rock walls that had treated him so well in the previous two sessions, Peter stopped on an isolated cluster of trees off a weed edge and caught his final fish to fill out his six out of six limit. Peter and Mitch carry an assortment of jigs in a number of different weights. Usually a 1/4, 3/8 or 1/2oz will cover almost all scenarios as you can vary the rate of descent by using a larger trailer, or a trailer with more action. You will want to use a jig that’s heavy enough that you can maintain feel on the bottom. As the fish predominantly pick up the jig off the bottom, the ability to detect a change in how your jig feels will be key to putting fish in the boat. As you start fishing jigs you need to learn how your jig feels on the end of your line, and if this feel changes you’re either snagged or soon to be snagged, or a fish has picked up your jig. We’ve experienced a number of different bites while fishing jigs. Occasionally you will feel one solid thump and then weight, while other times they will peck at it with that tell-tale rattle you feel when fishing a soft plastic. Quite commonly you won’t actually feel anything at all. This is why



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Tournament Angler Guide it’s important to really get to know how the jig feels because if you lose contact there’s a good chance a bass has grabbed it and is

less fairly simple. You are trying to imitate a yabby or redclaw, so bottom contact is by far the most important. Hold the rod tip up just

so slightly to put a small amount of slack into the line. A small upward flick of the wrist should be all that’s needed to bring the

Mitch works the jig through timber. swimming towards you. MOVE IT The actual technique of fishing the jig is more or

past horizontal and more or less ‘tap’ the line. Wind up and get tension on your line, then drop the tip ever

AREAS AND TECHNIQUE Target the shallows during low light hours, the edge of weed in close to the bank or a shallow rock wall. As the sun rises work the deeper edge and close to hard structure like standing timber, rock or lay-downs. Work the jig slowly around the structure and wait for the bite.

tip of the rod up, ‘tapping’ the line as it takes out the slack. This small tap will make the jig hop and bump along the bottom. Normally I would repeat the process until my rod is pointing high in the sky. Then wind down and repeat. Another technique is called stroking, and it’s a bit more of a reaction style bite. It’s very similar to

the technique you would use hopping a blade off the bottom. Give two whips of the rod from horizontal to almost vertical, ripping the jig off the bottom and allowing it to fall back down on a semi slack line, following your lure with your rod tip as it’s sinking. This retrieve imitates a yabby or redclaw flicking off the bottom and can be a great way to stimulate a bite. There is still so much to learn about fishing jigs for Australian bass. What I’ve described above just scratches the surface. Thanks to guys like Peter Phelps and Mitchell Cone, new techniques like this will always come along and thanks to organisations like ABT and Fishing Monthly, new techniques get outlined and examined, and anglers can be educated. As more anglers begin to experiment with their use of lures, they begin to unlock secrets to make them more effective. At the end of the day, time on the water with a technique is everything, and the more people willing to adopt and try out a new technique, the more time is going to be devoted to fishing it and finding out why it works. I’m sure the skirted jig is just the beginning.

As the sun rises fish tend to pull closer to structure, whether it’s standing timber, lay-downs or weed. This where the jig really shines!

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Tournament Angler Guide

The lure of the tour: the pull of big barra Tom Slater

The ABT BARRA Tour is a unique event for tournament fishing. A full weeklong immersion into barra fishing, ‘The Tour’ is a barra junkie’s ultimate adventure. For stalwarts of the tour, the barra road trip is an opportunity to rub shoulders with like-minded, competitive individuals and to experience the outstanding barra fishing that North Queensland has to offer. For anglers new to the tour, it’s an opportunity like no other to fast track your learning and knowledge of this iconic species. The last two tours in particular have produced fishing that can only be described as world class. If average catches of metre plus barra is your thing then the BARRA Tour should definitely be on your bucket list. GET PACKING Knowing what to pack, and the essentials you need to have with you for life on tour can be hard to summarise to the uninitiated. A seemingly endless array of lures, lines, tackle and electronics can make the tour (or any barra fishing excursion) seem daunting. This uncertainty isn’t unique to beginners either, with experienced barra anglers still puzzling over every new piece of equipment that comes to market. The BARRA tour doesn’t have to be complicated though; success on the tour isn’t limited to your

Scan this QR code to see how to modify Slick Rigs for barra.


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This is what the BARRA Tour is all about. Big fish and big smiles. performance on the score sheet. Nor is it indicative of the size of your bank account. To find, hook and ultimately land even metre long barra is the pinnacle of fishing for many Australian anglers. This article intends to provide some clarity to the enormous amount of options available on tour and to open a dialogue with successful and seasoned pros on the musthaves for a successful sojourn to the northern lakes and the BARRA Tour. SOFTY DOES IT ‘Soft plastic’ is a pretty generalized term for what is a very diverse style of lure. There’s a multitude of shapes and sizes, which can be perplexing on a shop wall. From flukes to frogs and everything in-between, soft plastics encompass some of the most effective and reliable barra lures we’ve seen on the tour. Let’s break down these

soft and squishy morsels and give you the hard facts on what to pack for your first tour. The Squidgy Slick Rig is like the forward defensive shot in cricket. It’s somewhat boring, but fundamental to prolonged success in the northern impoundments. Sure, there are other options, but no other lure has experienced the successes of the Slick Rig. Seasoned barra professionals modify the Slick Rig a fair bit these days. Craig Griffiths of the 2015 TOY (Humminbird/ EJ Todd) takes a soldering iron to his Squidgies to maximize their effectiveness on the water. You can watch a video of how Craig modifies his ‘Slickies’ by scanning the QR code. Let’s take a look at a few other options for the inner tackle junkie in all of us. Just like your favourite meal deal, don’t be afraid to upsize in search of giant barra

on the tour. Size definitely mattered for some teams on the 2015 tour, especially at Peter Faust Dam – the Mecca

of big barra. Lures of 7-9” were not uncommon on the decks of the top teams. Storm R.I.P. Shads gained key fish

for Team Humminbird/EJ Todd in their domination of the event. Large profile baits with strong action were the most advantageous lures late in the tour, when the moon was fading and light was low. Some creative rigging is necessary to throw a soft plastic measuring the best part of 20cm, and some of the most enjoyable time in the lead up to a tour is figuring this out. Westin and Castaic are two companies relatively new to the Australian market, and both offer some simple yet incredibly effective lures to fill those remaining gaps in your soft plastic box. The Westin Shad Teez is a great natural boney bream profile, and its large paddle-tail exhibits great action and body roll when rigged on a standard jighead. Castaic’s Jerky J Swim series of boot tail swimbaits are a little thicker in the body than their Westin counterparts, again featuring a thumping tail beat that draws barra in to have a look. Both are available in a range of different sizes from petite 3” versions to mega profiles of 7” and bigger, catering to every bait size.

No BARRA Tour kit is complete without one of these, a pimped and tricked Squidgy Slick Rig.

One last contender for the specialty spot in the soft plastic arsenal would be the Zerek Flat Shad. A unique collapsible body makes this perfect for rigging weed-less and throwing into some really nasty structure. HARDEN UP So, now that you have a box of go-to soft baits, it’s time to harden up and put together a tray of the best and most effective hardbodies


Tournament Angler Guide for an assault on the 2016 BARRA tour. There’s a reason why Rapala have been the major supporter of the tour in the last few years, they saw a group of anglers have fantastic success on some of their products and rewarded them with support. The Rapala X-Rap is renowned as a fish catching machine, and are super effective for the barra angler. If the ‘Slickie’ was the forward defence of

Larger sized soft plastics proved their worth on the 2015 Tour, and are something your shouldn’t leave home without.

soft plastics, the X-Rap would be the frontline quick of a steamy pace attack. As anglers, we’re all about diversity; no one likes to own all the same stuff. So here are a few other options to look at building your one stop shop hardbody box. The Luckycraft Pointer has been a benchmark barra lure since the brand first made its way to Australia from the largemouth filled waters of Japan. Available in a multitude of sizes and running depths, a box of assorted Pointers could probably satisfy even the pickiest of barra junkies. Now available with out-ofthe-box barra-ready hardware, the benchmark just got higher. Ecogear BM125s were probably one of the first Japanese designed lures specially made to target barramundi in Australia after Japanese lure designer Takayoshi Orimoto came to Australia many years ago. Still a fantastic shallow water option to this day, the BM125

Scan this QR code to see the best way to tie the FG knot.

Having and knowing how to use the latest sounders is essential for barra success on the lakes. is a contender for sure. Of course, it isn’t just overseas where we look for successful barra lures. Australia has produced some truly excellent options for the box. Companies such as Reidy’s continue to make some of the most relied on barra lures in the country, with the B52 continuing to do damage in the hands of BARRA Tour stalwarts like Peter Price. It isn’t just the long, slim profiles of jerkbaits that barra love to munch on in North Queensland. Fat profile, short

bodied crankbaits imitate a boney bream better than almost anything else and continue to fly under the radar of many barra anglers. Karim DeRidder of Team Humminbird/EJ Todd put the Luckycraft SKT Magnum on the map when he used the gigantic crankbait to notch the team’s first win of the 2015 tour at Teemburra Dam. The behemoth crankbait measures over 100mm, and a simple slow roll and pause technique was all that was needed to capture almost 10m of barra in the two-day evening event.

Steve Morgan told stories about how they used to catch plenty of barra on an old Rapala Risto Rap, again a slightly shorter and fatter profile crankbait that you simply slowly wind through structure, with the odd pause to capture the interest of a nearby barra. While they aren’t as diverse and as easily accessible for the average angler, jointed hard swim and glidebaits are quickly becoming a consistent fish catcher in the northern impoundments. To page 26


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With continued success they become more and more accessible as more options come to market. There are a few different styles of swimbaits available; some swim with a very pronounced ‘S’ motion, while others glide majestically side-to-side, sometimes as wide as 3ft. Evergreen, Duo and Megabass make some great hard swim and glidebaits, which are definitely a contender for that last space in the hardbody box.

Tournament Angler Guide PICK UP STICKS Now that you’ve sorted a couple of boxes of go-to fish catching machines, you will need some rods to throw them on. Barramundi rod selection is like a game of young against old. Traditionally, short overhead baitcast rods were the norm. The perceived added control of a sub 6ft rod and the older method of simply fishing the snags meant a shorter rod was always favoured. These days, with our added

knowledge of how to target fish offshore away from structure, longer overheads and spin rods especially have really taken control over the last few years. Realistically, you only need a couple of rods to be a successful barra angler. One spin and one baitcast would see you set for almost all situations you’d encounter on tour. A medium-heavy rated baitcast around 6’6” in length would be the first choice. Something of this length

Quality lighting makes life easier and safer during the night events.

can be used for tip down presentations like twitching a jerkbait among timber, yet is not disadvantaged too much on an open point casting a soft plastic to a weed edge. You don’t need to worry too much about how many million modulus the blank is. As long as it’s comfortable and light enough to cast for eight hours without fatigue, you won’t have any trouble detecting a bite from a hungry barra. A spin rod of a similar rating around 10-20lb around the 7’0” mark would be the second stick in the quiver. This rod would mainly be used for long casting on open points and bays, but could be equally used for slowly winding a lure through structure. A key with spin rods is to make sure the guides are suitable to pass your chosen leader knot. If you tie a large knot like an Albright choose a rod with larger guides, likewise if you’re familiar with the FG knot (which you can watch by clicking the QR code), you open up a few more options with smaller guides. On the 2015 tour I took up everything from 5’8” to 7’9” baitcast rods, as I wanted to put everything to the test and identify what I believed to be the best. After ten days of flat out fishing I have to admit I definitely prefer a longer rod, with 6’6”

Spin and baitcaster rods in varying lengths, tapers and weights will ensure you have the right tool for the job. being the absolute minimum for what I would take. The main benefit I saw in longer rods over 7ft was the added ‘tip’ you get from a longer blank. A longer rod can still be powerful in the butt and yet retain a sensitive tip, whereas a short 6ft rod will inherently exhibit a stiffer tip due to the short length. I found

my hook-up ratio was a lot higher with longer rods in accordance with how barra feed. The longer rod allowed me a few extra milliseconds to react to the initial bite while the softer tip loaded. With a short stiffer rod, the fish feels resistance almost immediately. To page 28

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Tournament Angler Guide

TINKER TIME Getting prepped for the barra tour is almost as fun as winding them in. The preparation and tinkering that goes on is rewarding bothon and off the water. If

you scanned the QR code you would have already seen how Craig Griffiths modifies his Squidgy Slick Rigs, and you can modify almost anything in your equipment to maximize the results. Upgrading the terminals on your favourite hardbodies can alter the buoyancy, so doing all this at home before you hit the water can prevent wasted time. Adding a stinger hook to your soft plastics is the number one modification most experienced barra anglers make, to increase their hook-up ratio. There are a number of ways to rig a stinger, some more complex than others. Swivels, Hawaiian snaps, and crimps can all be used to secure a treble on the underneath of a soft plastic. Tinkering with your anchor can save you a huge headache in the weeklong barra fest. Being able to quick release your anchor if you hook up to a rampaging fish will definitely keep more fish from rubbing you off. Most of the in-the-know guys have a quick release clip with a float on their anchor line. If you hook up and need to up anchor, rather than pulling the anchor in you simply unhook and throw the float overboard. The float will keep the anchor line up top so you can come and re-clip in after you’ve

There’s no bigger challenge than catching barra in the timber. landed your fish. Another boat modification that can come in handy is some lighting. No doubt you’ve seen the awesome


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lighting rigs floating around on the Bassmaster pro’s boats for the last few years. This functional bling can definitely help you stay organized in a night session or the gruelling all night event. Spotlights either handheld, or mounted to the bow of the boat can help navigate the timbered sections of the lakes, making night time manoeuvring much easier. SOUNDER SECRETS Barramundi are one of the best fish to look for on a sounder. The large, slow moving fish appear perfectly on the screens of even the smallest sounders these days. The technology game is moving fast and while the big units are nice, the budget friendly new generation like the Helix from Humminbird offer all the barramundi finding tech in a wallet friendly bundle for all anglers to enjoy. Side imaging sonar is probably the best invention for barra fishing ever. Being able to scan up to 150ft each side of your vessel can be invaluable for finding the sweet spot to key you into a red-hot barra bite. Using side imaging sonar is an article in itself, but the main story here is you don’t need a 12” unit to take advantage of these technologies. Do some research and become familiar with how to use side imaging and even a Helix 5 or 7 will be a barra locating machine! For the electronic

nut, take side imaging and imagine a 360° view around your boat – that would be cool right? Well, that’s exactly what Humminbird’s 360 imaging provides. A sideimaging signal is a static beam that runs perpendicular to the direction of the boat, and on that premise, it relies on movement to scan the underwater environment. 360 Imaging is a spinning transducer that is lowered underneath your boat by either a stern mount or a trolling motor mount and allows you to scan the whole way around your boat – you can literally watch barramundi moving around a point as your boat is anchored stationary. THE WRAP UP The ABT barra tour is the pinnacle of competitive barra angling for me, a southerner who only gets limited opportunities to catch these giants every year. To travel alongside some of the country’s best anglers, listen to them share tips and strategies, watch them select which lures to use and how to approach a certain location is invaluable in becoming a better angler. So pack your gear and plan the time off. The dates have already been set for what will surely be another week to remember as the ABT BARRA Tour heads north in 2016.

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Tournament Angler Guide

2016 ABT Rankings and Angler of the Year It was a fruitful year for many anglers on the tournament trail in 2015. Kris Hickson continued his hot run of form to finish the year as the Angler of the Year (boater) and number one ranked boater, while Simon Johnson claimed the number one nonboater ranking and Stuart Walker the nonboater Angler of the Year title. Warren Carter once again had a red-hot year on tour, albeit in 2015 it was the BASS Pro side of the tournament calendar with the tournament veteran claiming the BASS Pro Angler of the Year (boater) title. It was a close battle in the nonboater AOY points race with Queensland’s James Reid securing the win. Steve Kanowski reigned supreme, claiming the number one boater ranking, while Shaun Falkenhagen made it back-to-back wins in 2015 successfully defending his Grand Final nonboater title, and in doing so ascending to the number one ranking position.

BASS Electric veteran Adrian Wilson capped off a sensational year by claiming the BASS Electric AOY title and number one BASS Electric ranking, a fitting reward for one of the BASS tour’s most passionate and driven competitors.

On the kayak front, Chris Burbidge continued his reign as the number one ranked BREAMer, while Simon Morley claimed his first major title securing the AOY crown for 2015. One the bass side of things Glen Hayter finished the 2015 season as the number

one ranked kayak BASS angler and Stephen Maas the Angler of the Year BASS kayak champ. The 2015 Rapala BARRA Tour produced quality fishing for teams with Craig Griffiths and Karim De Ridder the standout anglers, finishing

the year as the Team of the Year (299/300 points) and as the equal number one ranked BARRA angler.

For full rankings, records, and earnings of each species and series visit

Being a non-boater is as much about learning as it is about being part of a team. Here Shaun Falkenhagen assists Dave Young to place his fish in the weigh-bag before the weigh-in begins.

Mark Crompton had a hot 2015 and will be primed for another succesful season on the BREAM tour.

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

Kris Hickson Ross Cannizzaro Warren Carter Chris Britton Jamie McKeown Cameron Whittam Scott Butler Mark Healey Russell Babekuhl Shayne Gillett

NON-BOATER 253 222 194 165 165 158 158 150 142 137

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Simon Johnson Grayson Fong Clint Voss John Galea Shaun Egan Robert Kneeshaw Jonathon Thompson Alex Franchuk Aaron Clifton Tanya Konsul

175 164 158 156 150 149 147 135 124 122


Kris Hickson Ross Cannizzaro Mark Crompton Steve Gill Cameron Whittam Warren Carter Tom Slater Steve Morgan Mark Brown Brad Roberts

NON-BOATER 296 293 290 288 282 278 274 273 268 268

BREAM KAYAK RANKINGS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 30

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Chris Burbidge Jason Meech Simon Morley Stewart Dunn Glenn Allen Ben Phayer Michael Maas Patrick McQuarrie Joel Crosbie Kane Terry

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Stuart Walker Grayson Fong Simon Johnson Bradley Young Aaron Clifton Clint Voss Rodney O’Sullivan Luke Vanbrandwyk Jonathan Thompson Tanya Konsul

284 283 280 275 265 259 257 256 255 253

BREAM KAYAK AOY 364 289 289 286 271 268 265 253 249 240

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Simon Morley Chris Burbidge Jason Meech Richard Somerton Brian Hunt Martin Fellows Glenn Allen Carl Dubois Patrick McQuarrie Scott Lovig

488 486 456 455 452 449 444 440 439 424


Tournament Angler Guide

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

Stephen Kanowski David Young Mark Lennox Craig Simmons Kris Hickson Warren Carter Paul Gillespie Peter Phelps Michael Thompson David Lane

NON-BOATER 215 187 183 172 164 164 157 151 142 124

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Shaun Falkenhagen Peter Morgan Brett Hyde Owen Mcpaul Duane Macey Ryan Jones James Reid Luke Draper Ben Randall Liam Fitzpatrick

188 168 164 155 128 116 116 115 106 105


Warren Carter Craig Simmons Michael Thompson Stephen Kanowski Kris Hickson Mark Lennox Anthony Thorpe Tony Thorley Greg Beattie Grant Clements

NON-BOATER 297 283 281 280 273 273 268 268 266 264

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

Adrian Wilson Tom Reynolds Joseph Urquhart Jonathon Bale Tim Steenhuis Les Smith Charles West Shaun Falkenhagen Brett Renz Robert Butler

Glen Hayter Richard Somerton Alan Britcliffe Stephen Maas Peter Bostock Dave Mann Mick Skinner Jonathan Chen Chesney Fung Joel Crosbie

384 310 294 288 255 250 241 238 226 219

Craig Griffiths Karim De Ridder Geoff Newby Ashley Sims Dan Curry Dustin Sippel Rick Napier Cameron Johnson Justin Welsh Peter Price

293 291 291 291 290 277 272 269 269 254

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Adrian Wilson Johathon Bale Tom Reynolds Rebecca Smith Tim Stenhuis Charles West Robert Butler Joe Urquhart Brett Renz Christian Manolea

489 482 478 458 382 296 292 284 283 279

BASS KAYAK AOY 283 253 218 181 151 151 140 122 100 97

BARRA RANKINGS 1 1 3 4 5 6 6 8 8 10

James Reid Owen Mcpaul Luke Draper Brett Hyde Peter Morgan Jason Martin Ben Randell Deborah Kowalczyk Rodney Thorpe Jim Hickson


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

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Stephen Maas Glenn Hayter Luke Atkinson Alan Britcliffe Peter Woods Callum Sprott Scott Sandilands Mark Hodkinson Jason Harrip Paul Holmberg

297 287 282 280 277 266 265 264 263 262

BARRA TEAM OF THE YEAR 185 185 164 154 154 144 144 135 135 126

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Craig Griffiths Rick Napier Dan Curry Paul Butler Mick Weick Geoff Newby Wally Wilton Talin Payne Shane Clarke Rhyce Bullimore

Karim De Ridder Dustin Sippel Ash Sims Greg Thomas Brendan Barnett Phill Lyons Jake Mitchell Jonathan Clark Mat McFarlane Luke Kerin

299 293 292 284 276 274 272 270 269 265 abt

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