IT was almost 12 years ago that we got into the bream luring caper, and while it’s not clear how it happened, it came to be that of all the fishing we do, the Queensland Bream Open is now the only event we fish together.
It is such an enjoyable event and one which we love, and fishing the Open has become quite a tradition. Having had the privilege of lifting the trophy three times also helps to keep us coming back!
The event has changed a bit over the years, but ultimately it is a Moreton Bay competition run over three days and is a true test of a team’s ability to improve each day and maintain catch rates. All our wins have come from first-day deficits and big comebacks.
Quite often we found ourselves 1kg or more behind, and last year we came from last to take the title. Well, that all changed this year.
The tides for the event were good, with a low in the early to middle part of the session, which is what we like, but the tides were not massive, and we realised that some of our high tide spots were probably going to be a bit dicey. We love surface fishing in the Open, and for surface, the warmer the water, the better you go.
We normally like 20C or warmer. Coming out of winter, the temperature was not quite where we would have liked, with 18C being as hot as it got. The weather forecast was sensational, with just a light breeze forecast for the three days.
The first day started with a surface pattern that got plenty of rises, but with the water a little cool, the fish did not commit as they should to the Cultiva Zip ‘n Ziggy and Berkley 3B Scum Dog lures.
However, we were still able to compile a bag in just over two hours, with a couple of fish above 30cm fork length in the bag. As the tide rose, we swapped out to shallow cranks in the Berkley 3B Fat Dog range and cranked a variety of banks following the tide up.
This can be an electric style of fishing if you can get the timing and depth right and target concentrated fish in feeding mode. While it took a little time for the fish to move up with the tide, the last hour and a half was champagne fishing, with a fish every second cast and quality improving as the tide rose.
We consistently upgraded until the end of the session when we had a bag of bream between 31cm and 35cm to the fork, which is pretty much as good as it gets (without nailing a real monster). It was a little hard to estimate the weights, and in the car travelling to the weigh-in at the Brisbane Boat Show we called it for 3.5kg.
When the fish went on the scales we were stoked to get over 4kg, with a bag of 4.02kg, which had us sitting in first.
It was an awesome feeling, but also unusual, as it was the first time we went into day two with a lead. While excited on the way home, we were a little worried about the timing of our fishing. Given the tide would be an hour later the following day, it was going to be touch and go as to whether we would get those late fish.
Anyway, on day two we stuck to the same plan, except after the early surface bite we decided we’d rotate to some of our other spots to find new fish.
The morning was quite frustrating, with a similar number of rises to the day before but the conversion rate tanked and after about an hour we left with only two small fish in the well. We moved to Macleay Island, which has been very good to us over the years, and slowly put a bag together in a range of spots but didn’t come across any big schools. With a small bag, we headed back to the bank from the day before to try to upgrade in the last hour, which we did, but to nowhere near the extent of the day before.
Back at the weigh-in, it was clear we were in a bit of strife because all teams seemed to hit fish late due to having access to their spots a little earlier in the tide. With a small bag of just over 2kg we slid to third but still had a shot with a big result on day three.
We changed our plan on the third day and decided to ‘run and gun’ to a milk run of spots that had produced over the years. The idea is simple: keep moving until you find the fish and don’t burn too much time in one spot.
We started on our favourite bank again splashing surface lures and came up with two fish, but left after 40 minutes. The rest of the day was very enjoyable because we ended up finding plenty of fish (in fact we probably caught more than day one), but we just could not find bigger fish. We hit a couple of Hail Mary spots on the way back, which yielded a few small upgrades, but as we pulled in we felt that barring a miracle we had not done enough.
There was no miracle, and weighing in a slightly larger bag than the day before of 2.28kg was not enough to topple our ongoing competitors from Team Samurai (David McKenzie and Tristan Taylor), who went on to record their fourth title with a clear win averaging not far off 4kg a day, which is a sensational effort.
Well done boys, and see you next year!