Gilly a bridesmaid no more
Steve Gill (Gilly) has had seven, third place finishes in ABT BREAM Qualifiers. He was almost the Gerald Swindle of BREAM competition in Australia, labelled the best to never win a BREAM Qualifier or Grand Final. Well, that monkey is well and truly off his back now with the Victorian blitzing the field at his favourite tournament arena. Gilly achieved an impressive 10/10 limit for an 11.65kg bag, which beat his nearest competitor by over 2kg.
“I couldn’t think of a better place to notch up my first ABT victory,” said Gilly when interviewed after the tournament. “Things happen for a reason and this place is red-hot, it can be tough at times to locate the fish, but when you find them you remember why you travelled so far to get there.”
Anglers were left cold and wet after a serious storm front rolled through on the Sunday morning, but that didn’t faze Gilly, who held the overnight lead.
“At one stage I nearly got blown off the front deck of my boat, it was that windy.” The adverse conditions didn’t faze him though, as he brought the biggest bag of his ABT career and the biggest bag of the tournament to the scales on Sunday afternoon. Faced with challenging low tides early in both sessions, the key to success at the Costa Derwent River BREAM Qualifier was to find an area with sufficient depth to catch fish before the tide started to rise.
“High tide on the Derwent makes it a much easier place to figure out, I knew I had to work something out for the low tide so I could at least catch a few fish early before looking for upgrades as the water came in,” explained Gilly.
Starting each day on shallow muddy flats upstream of the Bowen Bridge, Gilly managed a number of fish early each session. As the tide rose over the rocky edges, he turned his attention to active fish that had moved up with the tide looking to feed.
Reflective coloured slim profile jerkbaits have always been the popular lure when the ABT tour rolls into Tassie, and Gilly didn’t try to re-write the books when it came to catching the biggest bream in Australia.
Arming himself with two different colours (reflect ayu and half mirror smelt) of the popular Nories Laydown Minnow (Shallow), Gilly fired long casts out over the flat, and began to methodically work the area with a textbook twitch and pause retrieve.
“You’ve got to fish slowly when fishing for black bream,” said Gilly. After watching his non-boater Rebecca Fazio get off to a flying start on the first morning, Gilly hit his stride, putting together his then current personal best ABT bag of 5.73kg. Not content with that, Gilly went on and broke his mark again on the second day, weighing an impressive 5.92kg limit, which included the tournament big bream. It wasn’t all high fives and smiles on Day 2 however, with four fish in the box early, Gilly struggled through until almost 1pm, when he knew the tide would be up. A move upstream of the Bridgewater Bridge proved perfect, with an almost 40cm bream caught on his first cast. Shortly after, the 41cm kicker came aboard and it was then that he knew he would be hard to chase down.
Gilly’s equipment for the weekend consisted of a quiver of Howler Custom Rods that he paired with the new Shimano Twinpower reel, which he had bought new, especially for the trip across the Bass Strait. He spooled the reel with Yamatoyo Resin Sheller PE in 9lb and topped it off with Yamatoyo Rockfish fluorocarbon leader in 4lb.
Gilly was well rewarded for his efforts, taking home almost $2500 in prize money and instantly qualifying for the St Georges Basin BREAM Grand Final. He also now finds himself in a three-way tie for the PowerPole Angler of the Year title with two other ABT veterans – Warren Carter and Steve Morgan. The race is well and truly on as the BREAM tour heads to Forster for Round 6.
Lister lets loose for 2nd Place
Canberra’s Alan Lister remained consistent through the two tournament sessions to notch a runner-up finish, thanks to a 10/10, 9.3kg limit. Lister finished a disappointing 17th at the first event at St Helens, but turned his tour around at the Costa Derwent River BREAM Qualifier by focusing on the area he found on the Friday pre-fish.
“I actually came down to Tasmania with a friend of mine before the pre-fish ban started. We fished the Derwent for four days and caught a few fish. It’s such a big arena that come the official pre-fish day, I actually chose not to visit any areas I had explored on my pre-practice trip.” said Lister.
He’s not wrong – the Derwent system is expansive and encompasses plenty of small bays and coves, as well as a huge area near the mouth known as Ralphs Bay. During his pre-practice Lister located a small bay off the main river in which he’d experienced a double hook-up of 1.2kg Derwent River brutes.
“I started the first day in that small bay. I had waypoints all over the place from where I’d caught fish a few weeks earlier, but it didn’t pay out during the tournament,” explained Lister.
Turning to Plan B, Lister moved to a bank he’d found in the main river and the first fish he managed to boat went over 1.2kg. Lister had visited the local tackle store before fishing the event, and picked up a Daiwa Presso Minnow. He went on to use the lure for the entirety of the two tournament sessions.
“I had a box full of slim profile jerkbaits, but I don’t think I could have caught any more, or better fish by using something else. So I just committed to the Presso Minnow and it paid off,” he said.
Lister went on to upgrade a number of smaller fish through Day 1, and returned to the scales and was pleasantly surprised to find he’s weighed the magic 5kg bag. Sitting in 2nd place overnight, Lister was determined to continue fishing with the open mind that had led him to success the previous day.
“I was a ball of nerves on the start line on the second day, I had to tell myself to just fish for fun and enjoy the day because I knew if I let it get to me I’d fish too fast and miss some opportunities,” he said.
Fishing slow was the key, after receiving some advice from other competitors that emphasised the need to slow down when fishing for the big black bream that call the Derwent home.
“I’d retrieve my lure with a twitch and pause retrieve, sometimes letting the lure sit for over 10 seconds” Lister said. On more than one occasion, Lister would turn his back to do something, and his braid would snap straight with the force of a Derwent kegger on the other end.
“Every single bite I had over the two tournament days came when the lure was stationary,” he said. This emphasises the need for a patient mind while tournament fishing in Tasmania. At one stage, Lister witnessed a 1kg+ bream inhale his lure in front of his eyes, yet he failed to feel or see the bite.
Lister relied on a Shimano 3-Zero 1-3kg rod, paired with a Daiwa Aird 2000 reel. He strung up with 6lb braided mainline and his connection to his newly found Presso Minnow was 2 rod lengths of 4lb Sunline FC-Rock fluorocarbon leader.
With qualification now locked away for the Costa St Georges Basin BREAM Grand Final, Lister can fish carefree through the rest of the tournament season.
“Living in Canberra, if I had to name my local bream waters, it would probably have to be St Georges Basin. So I’m looking forward to hitting the water when I can over the rest of the year to prepare for the Grand Final.”
Fazio unfazed by the competition
Rebecca Fazio has claimed her second ABT non-boater event win, four years after her first at St Georges Basin. The long-time non-boater was thrilled to weigh her personal best 5/5 (5.07kg) bag during the first day of competition with event champion Steve Gill. With the pair catching an impressive 10.8kg combined limit for the day.
Returning to the scales on Sunday with a 5/5 3.7kg bag, Fazio was sceptical if it would be enough to retain her overnight lead.
“I didn’t think I had quite that much weight as I was walking up to the bump tubs,” explained Fazio. In the end, it was more than enough to relegate St Helens non-boater champion Michael Alexander to second place. Paired with Steve Gill and Kris Hickson over the course of the weekend, Fazio was always going to be around the fish, it was up to her to convert them into weight on the scales.
“The first day with Gilly started perfectly, flying off the mark with a number of good fish early on a Jackall Colt Minnow. I couldn’t believe how well the day went with Gilly, I landed twelve legal bream with the biggest just over 38cm to the fork,” explained Fazio.
Waking Sunday morning to the overcast and reckoning skies, Fazio was dealt a dose of the ‘who shares wins’ ABT motto. Hickson’s electric motor batteries had died within an hour of the start, and he selflessly paddled the boat around in blustery conditions so that Rebecca had the best chances of catching her five fish.
“It looked really funny to watch someone paddling a 20ft bass boat around, and I must say I really appreciate what Kris did for me during that second day,” said Fazio.
Between the successful Colt Minnow from the previous day, Fazio also rotated in a Smith Panish and Cranka Crab to catch her Sunday limit and propel her to victory.
“I can’t wait to get back to St Georges Basin for this year’s Costa BREAM Grand Final, I missed last year’s Grand Final because I ran out of annual leave, so I’m making sure I’ve got enough for when the Grand Final rolls around.”
Event images can be found here
Costa BREAM Series: Costa Derwent River BREAM Qualifier Boater Results
|1||Steve GILL||NSW||5||5.73||5||5.92||10||11.65||$1,900 + Duff Rods Big Bag + Austackle Big Bream ($500)|
|4||Cameron WHITTAM||VIC||5||3.8||5||5.04||10||8.84||$700 + Yamaha Bonus ($300)|
|6||Warren CARTER||Vic||5||4.27||5||4.3||10||8.57||1st Mercury Bonus ($250) + 1st Pro ($200)|
|8||Adam CRICK||TAS||5||4.72||5||3.21||10||7.93||2nd Mercury Bonus ($150)|
|9||Steve MORGAN||QLD||5||4.5||5||3.36||10||7.86||3rd Mercury Bonus ($100)|
Costa BREAM Series: Costa Derwent River BREAM Qualifier Non-Boater Results
|1||Rebecca FAZIO||NSW||5||5.07||5||3.7||10||8.77||Costa Sunglasses & Prize Pack + Hobie Bonus ($50)|
|2||Michael ALEXANDER||5||3.69||5||4.73||10||8.42||Samurai Reaction Rod & Prize Pack + Hobie Bonus ($35) + OSP Rookie Pack|
|3||Bernard KONG||VIC||5||4.14||3||2.52||8||6.66||Berkley Pack & Prize Pack + Hobie Bonus ($25) + 1st Pro ($400)|
|4||Grayson FONG||Qld||5||2.47||5||3.74||10||6.21||Spotters Sunglasses & Prize Pack|
|5||Mark HAYES||VIC||2||1.47||5||4.57||7||6.04||Austackle Featherlight Rod & Prize Pack|
|6||Neil CHEGWIDDEN||NSW||3||2.03||5||3.43||8||5.46||Prize Pack|
|7||Josh CARPENTER||NSW||2||1.13||4||4.16||6||5.29||Prize Pack|
|8||Paul SIEMASZKO||WA||5||3.86||2||1.2||7||5.06||Prize Pack|
|9||Blake O’GRADY||NSW||4||2.48||3||2.43||7||4.91||Prize Pack|
|10||Alex FRANCHUK||VIC||3||2.54||3||2.2||6||4.74||Prize Pack|