Firstly, let me just say that being able to contribute to the Humminbird website alongside such inspirational fishermen is a real privilege. I’m very proud to be able to give back to Humminbird and BLA, a company and brand that have a long celebrated history and who have accomplished so much for the fishing industry in Australia.
The tournament season is in full swing right now. Several major tournaments each month have seen me clock up some serious kilometres on the car driving to and from events. Last weekend was the 2nd stop of the ABT Bream Series for 2015 on the Clarence River in northern NSW.
Traditionally, the Clarence River plays host to a winter event to take full advantage of the Bream spawn and their migration to the mouths of the rivers to breed in the cool water. This year we had the event in April, hoping for a more evenly spread population of fish and in turn the tournament field. As it turned out, some recent rain had dirtied the river upstream and flushed a lot of the fish down to the front of the system.
I spent my practice day upstream to try to find fish away from where the majority of the field would be fishing. I managed to catch some nice fish around Maclean by throwing crank baits onto rocky points and outcrops and planned on running that pattern for both tournament days.
On Saturday morning I made the long run from Yamba upriver to Maclean and found the fishing quite tough. I rotated through four spots whilst only landing one undersized fish before I made the call to run back downstream and fish the popular area known as Browns Rocks – just downriver of Palmers Island.
Browns Rocks is a large underwater reef system stretching almost a kilometre in length along one side of the river. It’s a great area to target a number of species but Bream is one of the most popular fish that school in the stretch.
Depth ranges from anywhere around 6 feet down to around 40 feet, so the methods you use to target bream can vary greatly depending on where the fish are situated.
I could easily distinguish large amounts of bait and fish in the deeper water with the use of Down Imaging on the ONIX 10. Large clouds of bait shadowed by upwards of a dozen larger predatory fish were holding off almost every undulation on the bottom.
I fished a heavy Cranka Crab and essentially dragged the lure across the bottom, slowing my drift with my Minn-Kota. I waited to feel the bite and loaded up on a nice Clarence River Bream.
I stayed at Browns rocks for the remainder of session 1 and the entirety of session 2. I collected my 10/10 tournament limit weighing a total of 5.31kg which was enough to earn me 8th spot and a $675 prize.
This kind of deep current heavy fishing really forces you to concentrate and feel for bites. One of the key techniques I find for this fishing is to try and drift with your lure. Anchoring up, or using a spot lock feature will make it hard to get the proper feel with your lure on the bottom. Likewise, casting ahead or behind the drift line of the boat will also hamper your feel. I find casting perpendicular to your drift line and adjusting drift speed to match your lure allows you maximum contact with your lure. Ultimately this allows you to feel more, resulting in less snags and more hook ups.
The next tournament on the horizon for me is the ABT Bass Pro at Lake Somerset in QLD in early May. This event will be the first time I get to try out the new Bow 360 imaging on deep schooling bass and I’m very excited at the prospect of being able to track a school of fish around my boat in real time. This will help me to make pin-point casts to the head of the school rather than trying to sit on top of the school and drop down, or to blind cast the area.
Check back next month for some more tips and tournament news!