Team Atomic Bridesmaids no more!
Perennial Moreton Bay studs Aaron Sharp and Steve Eldred have overcome the bridesmaids tag that has followed them throughout QLD Open history, slamming the door on their first Open victory thanks to a final day 3kg+ bag, the only 3kg plus limit delivered throughout the entire 3-day tournament.
This year, the Spotters Sunglasses QLD Open was held from the Cleveland 4×4 and Caravan Show, with huge crowds flooding the show each day, our angler’s presented themselves in front of thousands of avid fisherman and outdoorsmen every day.
Sitting in fifth after day one, the pair was quick to point out that you can’t win the Spotters QLD Open on day one, but you can lose it. “The extra day fishing in an event like the QLD Open really changes things,” said Sharp. “You really need to manage your spots and ideally try to build bags throughout the event, very rarely does the team that catches a big bag on day one hold through to win the tournament. If you can consistently deliver bigger bags to the scales each day, you’ll always have a chance to win”.
The boys were close to that magic mark on days one and two, delivering pretty consistent bags to the scales that had them sitting in fourth place going into the final day. Knowing they would need to present the weighmaster with the biggest 5/5 fish limit of the whole tournament to have a shot at winning, the pair went to what they know best, cranking the shallow reef flats of Moreton Bay’s various islands.
“The biggest key in a Spotters QLD Open or any multi-day tournament for that matter is managing your spots,” said Sharp. The pair made use of their vast experience on Moreton Bay and hit new spots every day on way to their first QLD Open victory.
“We’ve spent a long time learning the intricacies of Moreton Bay,” explained Eldred. “We don’t actually fish it outside of tournaments that much anymore because as it is the islands receive a lot of angling pressure from the public. We have so much confidence in the bay we don’t feel the need to pre-fish too much; we back ourselves to figure out the exact area or technique on the day or during the event”.
As is so often the case when fishing shallow flats, crankbaits and topwaters were the choice of lures. Relying on a one-two approach that often dominates Moreton Bay events, Sharp and Eldred used a combination of Atomic Crank 38s in both mid and deep depths, and also the Megabass Dog-X Jr and regular sized Dog-X to tempt kickers on the surface. “Those two lures just work so well in the bay we never feel the need to try anything else, when you have that level of confidence in a bait it’s hard to put it down, especially when it’s worked for the past seven years and continues to do so”.
The technique wasn’t complex; it’s as simple as covering as much water as possible with each and every cast. “Fish spook easily in the bay, it’s shallow and clear and they can see you coming from a mile away, that’s where small things like having a lure that’s aerodynamic, thinner braid, more responsive rods all come into play,” said Sharp. The tools of the trade were the new Samurai Reaction rods, a revamp of arguably some of the most popular light spinning rods ever sold in Australia. “The new models are lighter, more sensitive and more responsive,” said Eldred.
Unitika braid and leader connected them to the winning fish, and when necessary the pair retrofitted Gamakatsu Wide Gap treble hooks to their lures for the best hook-up and holding power.
For their efforts the pair walked away with the perpetual Spotters QLD Open trophy that had eluded them so many times up until this point, as well as a stack of cash to go towards a few gel coat repairs on the bottom of Sharp’s bass boat.
Team Samurai Reaction settle for second
Team Samurai Reaction’s Tristan Taylor and Dave Mckenzie are no strangers to Spotters QLD Open success, they’ve won the title four times and been runner-up another four times in the events history. So it’s no surprise to see them on the podium again in 2016.
Despite facing some boat troubles on session one, which saw them having to switch boats and lose the best part of half of their first day on the water, the pair managed to put together three very consistent days on the water, without ever producing the all-important 3kg ‘kicker’ limit that is often required to win in Moreton Bay.
“With the tides the way they were this weekend the fish never really had the opportunity to get right up into the super shallow water during the tournament hours, so we actually found the majority of our fish came from little drop offs out wider on the shallow flats of the bay islands,” explained Mckenzie.
Expressing a similar theory that the fish in these flats are on edge and easily spooked, the pair utilised a top-water approach for the most of the tournament. The large sized topwater lures that they prefer cast infinitely further than the small Atomic Crank 38 that they so often use, so they’re able to cover a lot more water and get the lure a lot further away from the boat.
Picking up two Moreton Bay favourites in the Megabass Dog-X Jr and Megabass Dog-X the pair would bomb long casts out over patchy weed, rubble and sand that litters the flats of all the southern bay’s islands. It was the packs of bream they were looking for which would produce the most solid hook-ups, “When you had one single fish come up and look at your lure you’d often just get them to swipe at it half-heartedly, it was when you’d get a pack of five or six fish competing for your lure that they’d hit it multiple times, and you’d almost be guaranteed to hook one when that circumstance happened.” said Mckenzie.
The colour of choice? Bright yellow of course! Big advocates of bright colours for this scenario, Team Samurai Reaction commented the bright colours like Modena Bone allow you to keep track of your lure much easier when it’s sometimes as much as forty metres away from the boat. “The bright colour just stands out, it helps you to see when a fish is chasing so you can know whether you need to walk it faster or maybe stop it to draw a strike, it’s a really key ingredient to topwater fishing in Moreton Bay, I hardly ever use any other colour,” explained Taylor.
In what ended up being the closest Spotters QLD Open in the event’s history, Team Samurai Reaction fell eighty grams short of notching their fifth Spotters QLD Open victory. The pair wanted to send a big thank you to their long-time friend and regular Spotters QLD Open angler Grayson Fong, who kindly lent them his boat after the pair had troubles with theirs on day one.
|1||ATOMIC: Aaron Sharp & Steve Eldred||5||2.51||5||2.39||5||3.14||15||8.04|
|2||SAMURAI REACTION: Tristan Taylor & David McKenzie||5||2.6||5||2.54||5||2.82||15||7.96|
|3||SNIPER: Luke Rogan & Tyson Hayes||5||2.87||5||2.25||5||2.82||15||7.94|
|4||PONTOON 21: Denis Metzdorf & Khoi Pham||5||2.97||5||2.81||5||2.07||15||7.85|
|5||BUSH N’BEACH/ATOMIC: Anthony Wishey & Lex Irwin||5||2.59||5||1.92||5||2.95||15||7.46|
|6||GONE FISHING DAY 16TH OCTOBER: Steve Morgan & Nicholle Smith||5||2.1||5||2.78||5||2.16||15||7.04|
|7||DONUT KINGS: Brandon Gosbell & Shane Davison||5||1.83||5||2.08||5||1.87||15||5.78|