THE Great Northern Brewing Co. 2015 Gold Coast Flathead Classic is over for another year.
It was once again a great event with sunny skies and light to moderate wind for the three fishing days.
This year 220 teams with 551 anglers competed for the top honours. With 5786 flathead caught by day and 7500 beers drunk over the four nights, a few anglers must have made up for not catching many fish by downing extra beverages.
The Flathead Classic is a four-night, three-day fishing event. You receive a team bag upon registration with all the sponsors’ products enclosed and a sublimated tournament shirt from Switchbait. You also receive a great meal each night and get to enjoy an awesome atmosphere. When you have 600 people coming together with the same passion it makes for a really friendly and fun environment.
This year team Lowrance Whyte Boyz consisted of me and my two brothers David and Brenden. We had a little added pressure this year after being the champion team in 2014.
We had some really good sessions a couple of weeks prior to the Classic but the fishing had changed and toughened up in the week leading into the tournament.
With big tides and light northwesterly wind on day one, we knew the fishing would be a little tough. The really big tides seem to rip all the silt off the flats and dirty the water quite quickly.
We started at Jumpinpin Bar along with about 25 other boats. The anticipation for the first cast at 6.30am is crazy. As the clock ticks over, the water erupts with jig heads splashing in and it’s game on.
Our first day was fairly slow in the morning but we managed a few flathead in the afternoon. We boated 20 flat fish for the first day and 1358 points had us sitting in fourth place just 200 points off the lead.
Day two brought a prediction of lighter southeasterly wind and looked to be the pick of the days. And it started off with a bang.
I hooked up solidly on the third cast of the day. I knew it was a quality flathead fish and after a short tussle, a big head slid into the net. Pumped to get a fish of this calibre early, there were a few high fives. On the ruler she measured 93cm, which was a new PB for me. A quick snap and off she swam.
Within the hour Brenden had an 84cm fish on the deck as well. With 530 points after two fish, we thought we were in for a massive score that day. This wasn’t to be, with northerly wind creeping in that made the afternoon a grind. With only 13 fish for the day, we had missed our opportunity to capitalise on such a great start in the morning.
At the briefing we found that a few teams in front of us had faltered and a couple from behind had leapfrogged us, but with our 1070 points we remained in fourth spot. At the beginning of day three we were only 170 points off the lead and had plenty of teams snapping at our heels, so we set ourselves a target of 1200 points for the day to give us a shot at the title.
We started a bit slowly with two fish in the first hour but found ourselves catching a bit more quality as well as a lot of by-catch on the last and shorter day. We landed two squire to 47cm, about 15 jew to 70cm, bream, cod and luderick to go along with our 16 flathead.
It was a great day catching so many fish, and when we tallied up our score we had fallen just short of our target with 1143 points.
Well we had fished our best and knew we would be close. The Saturday night presentation is a bit of a party and everyone is usually happy to share where they caught the fish and what their secret lures were. It’s a laid-back atmosphere and it’s good to have a chat and a beer with everyone.
I know I was a little nervous when the presentation started and as the names were being read out, we discovered ours was the last one. Lowrance Whyte Boyz had managed back to back titles. To say I was stoked is a bit of an understatement.
It was awesome to fish, fight, yell and argue with my two brothers for the three days and finish on top.
Using the Lowrance HDS-12 on my boat was a big part of our success. Insight Genesis mapping helped us locate and pinpoint the top and bottom of ledges as well as holes. It also helped us position the boat to either drift the right line or hold and cast to isolated structure. Using the Lowrance’s side imaging to locate bait schools was vital for us, and when we found good bait schools we caught fish.
I always say you can’t see under the water but your sounder can. Learn how to use it to its full potential and you will have more fish coming over the side.
As far as tackle goes, I run three identical outfits so I can put one down and pick up the next with a different bait and know the feel, meaning it doesn’t take me 10 minutes to adjust. I ran three G.Loomis 803 NRX rods matched with Shimano 3000 Stradic CI4+ reels spooled with 18lb and 25lb Toray Jigging PE Powergame braid. For leaders I used 1.5-2m of 16lb and 20lb Toray Jigging Leader. I find it is really thin for its breaking strain but still has great abrasion resistance.
I didn’t use too many different lures for the Classic, which usually means you are fishing with confidence. My go-to lures were Z-Man 5” PaddlerZ in Sexy Mullet and Shiner, 4” SwimmerZ in Sexy Mullet, TT 1/2oz Switchblades in Green Slimy and Mango and Zerek Fish Trap 95s in Olive Guppy. I’m a firm believer in using a lure or colour you have confidence in because you will fish it a lot harder and concentrate more while using it.
This year saw us catch a total of only 49 flathead for the 26.5 hours and three days of fishing. Some teams would catch this number in one day on the banks but have a lot of fish under 40cm, which are worth just five points each. Last year we boated 89 flathead for 4895 points and this year we landed 49 flathead for 3571 points.
This year we had several quality-sized fish, with one over 90cm, one in the 80cm range, four in the 70cm range, seven in the 60cm range, 11 in the 50cm range, 15 in the 40cm range and 10 under 40cm.
Congratulations must go to the two Wilson Fishing teams for finishing second and third as well as to Danny Sands for being the champion angler and Brett Doolan for pipping me by one point for runner-up.
I would also like to thank the Gold Coast Sport Fishing Club and all its committee members for a very well run tournament. Also, thank you to all the sponsors that help out so generously to make the tournament an awesome experience. If you have never heard of this event or would like to know more, do yourself a favour and check it out.
Get a team together for next year and be a part of one of Australia’s premier fishing tournaments.