Comeback Crompton’s Forster Special
Mark Crompton is making a habit of winning on the Costa BREAM Series. The Wilton based BREAMer has claimed victory at the Atomic-presented Forster BREAM Qualifier. The victory marked his third in the space of 18 months, and has dominantly stamped his name into the ABT record books.
Crompton is known on the BREAM Series as being one of the most prepared anglers, often going over and above… the rest of the field.
Crompton began his pre-fish began driving through the system, looking at the racks he knew from previous trips to the arena. He used the lower tide to look around, and identify areas that had each type of oyster leas: trays, baskets and racks.
Initially, Crompton retrieved hardbodies parallel to the leases but found that approach didn’t convert any of the fish he found.
Confident he could figure out a way to get the fish in the racks to commit, Crompton elected to leave the leases, and head to the lake. Spending a few hours fishing the expansive flats of Wallis Lake, Crompton quickly worked out that the slightly deeper 8ft areas were more productive.
Once the tide changed in the afternoon, Crompton committed to the oyster leases, with a plan to try and visually see fish in the cleaner water of the run-in tide, relying on his ability to get them to bite if he knew where they were.
Crompton opted to start on a set of floating baskets early on the first tournament day, but was unsuccessful in converting any bites. Choosing to head to the flats of Wallis Lake, Crompton targeted the deeper areas he’d identified during pre-fish. This again proved unsuccessful, with only one undersize bream hitting the deck.
With nothing in the well at 11am on Day 1, it wasn’t the start that Crompton was hoping for, but he wasn’t overly surprised.
“You really only had two opportunities to get a lot of bites at Forster,” explained Crompton. “The first hour of the morning when all the spots were rested, and the last hour or so when the tide changed.” With this in mind, Crompton went to his confidence spot, a set of trays on the edge of a deeper 11ft channel, with washboards on the outside. It was here where Crompton began putting his winning tournament together. Pitching Cranka Crabs over the washboard and onto the tray, before quickly dragging the lure to the edge before it snagged.
“I had to be on my game, as I stopped the crab it would almost drift backwards underneath the trays and the fish would grab it as it drifted underneath.”
The period from 11am until the session ended at 2pm continued to get better and better for Crompton, as he amassed a 5/5 3.38kg limit.
With the slow start to Day 1 firmly on his mind, Crompton opted to change tactics on Day 2 and start his day on the flats in Wallis Lake. This time, the lake was kind. Crompton caught two quality keepers and one smaller legal by the time he looked to head to the fruitful oyster trays. His technique on the flats was one he’d used many times before, alternating between a ZMan GrubZ, Juro Firebait and a Jackall Chubby.
“I was so eager to get to the racks I actually left the lake a little early, my racks hadn’t gotten the change of tide yet so I ended up back in the lake.” The change yielded another quality keeper for Crompton and now the time and tide was right for him to launch his charge for the victory in the oyster leases of Forster.
The last few hours saw Crompton fill his bag, and upgrade three times. His non-boating partner and event runner-up Shaun Egan also caught a few good keepers using the same technique with the Cranka Crab.
Crompton believed he had enough to ensure a quality finish, but never thought he had enough to take victory.
“My fish on Day 2 were actually shorter than on Day 1, so I thought I might have had maybe 3.2kg, I was blown away when the scales tipped 3.5.”
Crompton put this extra weight down to the inclusion of a number of fish from Wallis Lake in his day 2 bag, believing the fish from the lake weighed heavier than the fish from the oyster leases.
“The fish in the lake were heavier, but were hard to come by, I could catch numbers in the racks on the change of tide.”
Crompton sought advice from Forster and rack fishing expert Kris Hickson before the event on what equipment to use, and it was his newly purchased outfits that did the damage over the weekend.
A Daiwa Generation Black Swamp Donkey, paired with a Daiwa Freams 2500 was Crompton’s outfit of choice, spooled with 8lb Daiwa J-Braid and a 10lb Sunline FC Rock fluorocarbon leader.
“It was really white knuckle fishing, with no time for nets. Just pull them out from the tray and swing them over the washboard,” said Crompton. “At one stage I had one coming in so fast I had to move like a slipper to catch it in mid-air before it flew over the boat.”
Crompton took home $2500 for the event victory, and has cemented his position as one of Australia’s best BREAM fisherman. The 2016 Costa BREAM Grand Final is on his home waterway of St Georges Basin, and he’s definitely one to watch when the big show hits the water in early December.
Babekuhl falls one pole short
Russell Babekuhl is always a favourite going into any event at Forster, and he again proved why he is one of the best when it comes to extracting fish from oyster leases. His 10/10 6.81kg limit looked to be safe for the victory until Crompton’s bag exceeded expectations.
Babekuhl went into the event knowing the majority of the session would be a struggle. “I knew I’d get the majority of my bites in the last two hours of the session.”
Babekuhl chose to start both tournament days fishing the washboards of the paddock, and managed to get an early keeper before the heavy fishing pressure shut down the bite at the front of the system. His game plan from here was running and gunning, as he targeted the outside poles of oyster leases everywhere from the paddock, to the top of Wallis Island and across to the Wallamba River.
“I found most of the fish this weekend holding on the outside poles of the racks, rather than the racks themselves, so I focused on these all weekend and didn’t waste too much time fishing the actual racks”.
The key to Babekuhl’s pattern was his intricate knowledge of the waterway, identifying areas that were too shallow for most competitors to bother looking at. Babekuhl knew these areas would get neglected, and that they would offer him a well rested area once the tide had risen enough to be able to access the area.
“I purposefully saved 2-3 shallow weedy areas that had scattered poles. These poles were only deep enough in the last hour of each session and I knew that no one else would bother looking at them,” said Babekuhl.
On Saturday, these areas produced three fish over the magic 30cm mark, and a 33cm along with a 37cm kicker on Sunday.
On Sunday, Babekuhl added another piece of knowledge to his pattern, identifying the where the shags or other birds gathered on top of the poles, was where the fishing heated up.
Babekuhl keeps it fairly simple when fishing the racks of Forster, opting for a 2” Gulp Crabby in Camo rigged on a 1/40th #4 Nitro jighead.
He delivered the bait on a 3-6kg Abu Salty Stage rod, paired with an Abu MGX spin reel in a 30 size. Babekuhl’s line choices altered throughout the weekend, though his mainline always remained as 8lb Berkley Nanofil.
“I started each day with 10lb leader, but ended each day using 6lb and even 4lb leaders to get fish to bite, it was uncharacteristically tough for Forster, and the lighter leaders helped me get more bites.”
Although Babekuhl doesn’t fish as many tournaments as he has in previous years, he’s still one of Australia’s best and he’s got the fire in the belly to hold a winner’s cheque above his ahead again soon.
Walker wins second non-boater title
Stuart Walker is making a habit of winning ABT events from the back of the boat. With 2 victories already in 2016, Stuart Walker is making a charge at the Power-Pole AOY, attempting to run down Grayson Fong who currently leads the race.
Walker’s 9/10 5.69kg limit was more than enough to edge out last year’s Grand Final champion Shaun Egan.
Walker started his weekend pre-fishing with Grant Kime, where he quickly found his go-to bait for the weekend, the ever faithful ZMan GrubZ 2.5” in Motor Oil.
“I tried probably eight or so different lures out on the flats of Wallis Lake, but the ZMan GrubZ definitely got the most attention of anything I tied on,” said Walker.
Day 1 saw Walker paired with Mark Brown, and again he targeted the flats of the lake.
“We’d start a drift in around 15ft of water, and drift up the gradual rise until the boat was in 4ft,” explained Walker. The bottom composition was one of mixed weed and sand, with fish sporadically moving through the area.
“I’d cast out the ZMan GrubZ and allow it to hit the bottom, then it was a matter of slowly hopping the bait off the bottom, working the lure through the weed patches waiting for the bite.”
His Day 1 bag of 3.27kg was one of only two 3kg bags in the non-boater division, and put him in the hot seat heading into Day 2.
Sunday had Walker paired with Tim Vickers, and the plan was for much of the same from Day 1. Although they had a brief stop in the paddock to start the session, the bulk of their day was spent on Wallis Lake.
“I actually had the four fish I weighed in on Sunday by 10:30, it was a real grind after that and I think the fishing pressure had gotten to the fish in the lake, we pushed it to the last minute and Tim was rewarded with a nice fish off a rack pole with only a couple of minutes to go.”
Walker favoured a newly purchased Daiwa Silverwolf outfit, spooled with Daiwa Evo8 braid and 4lb Sunline Bream Special fluorocarbon leader.
Full of praise, Walker was quick to thank everyone that had helped him get to this position, including his workplace Construction Control, Otto’s TW, Kris Hickson from Manning River Marine, his lovely partner Mel and the generous sponsorship of Atomic and Frogley’s Offshore as the event naming sponsor.
With two wins to his name in this year’s Costa BREAM Series, Walker is a red-hot favourite for the Power-Pole AOY and the Grand Final come December.
Crompton put his victory down to having faith that the incoming tide would bring with it more obliging bream.
“It was the last hour of both sessions that made this tournament for me, I was lucky to get a few key fish in the lake early on Day 2, so I wasn’t under pressure to catch five giants from the trays.”
Rod: Daiwa Generation Black ‘Swamp Donkey’
Reel: Daiwa Freams 2500
Line: Daiwa J-Braid 8lb
Leader: Sunline FC Rock 10lb
Lure: Cranka Crab (Heavy) any colour
OSP Rookie Award
ABT newcomer Isaac Golby claimed the OSP Rookie Award, courtesy of Fish-Tec Solutions. Anglers are eligible for the award when they fish their first season of ABT competition, and are rewarded with a generous prize pack worth $160 of top quality OSP product. Golby’s 8/10 3.99kg limit was enough to also garner him 4th place in the event, banking a pack full of valuable prizes.
Austackle Big Bream
The Austackle Big Bream was actually shared during the Atomic Forster BREAM Qualifier. Paul Mazarolli and Jason Harlock both caught 1.24kg kicker fish. They shared the $500 Austackle cheque and both took home an assortment of sponsor product. Forster is known for big bream, and there were numerous specimens over a kilo weighed throughout the two-day event.
Atomic Forster BREAM Qualifier Boater Final Results
|2||Russell BABEKUHL||NSW||5||3.46||5||3.35||10||6.81||$1150 + 1st Mercury Bonus ($250)|
|4||Kristoffer HICKSON||NSW||5||3.64||5||2.72||10||6.36||$800 + 2nd Mercury Bonus ($150)|
|5||Grant MANUSU||NSW||5||3.1||5||2.93||10||6.03||$650 + Yamaha Bonus ($300)|
|7||Brian EVERINGHAM||NSW||5||2.84||5||2.35||10||5.19||$500 + 3rd Mercury Bonus ($100)|
|11||Steve MORGAN||QLD||5||1.97||5||2.84||10||4.81||1st Boater Pro|
|19||Jason HARLOCK||ACT||1||1.19||3||2.52||4||3.71||Austackle Big Bream (1.24 kg)|
Atomic Forster BREAM Qualifier Non-Boater Final Results
|1||Stuart WALKER||NSW||5||3.27||4||2.42||9||5.69||Costa & Prize Pack + 1st Hobie Bonus ($50)|
|2||Shaun EGAN||NSW||5||2.91||3||2.07||8||4.98||Samuria Rod + Prize Pack + 2nd Hobie Bonus ($35)|
|3||Paul MAZAROLI||NSW||5||3||1||1.24||6||4.24||Berkley Prize Pack + Austackle Big Bream (1.24kg)|
|4||Isaac GOLBY||NSW||4||1.74||4||2.25||8||3.99||Spotters Sunglasses + Prize Pack + OSP Bonus|
|5||Simon JOHNSON||NSW||5||2.5||2||1.32||7||3.82||Tonic Sunglasses + Prize Pack|
|6||Shaun CHAPMAN||NSW||3||1.54||3||2.15||6||3.69||Prize Pack + 3rd Hobie Bonus ($25)|
|7||Rebecca FAZIO||NSW||3||1.52||3||1.67||6||3.19||Prize Pack|
|8||Russell WINTERS||NSW||3||1.68||3||1.33||6||3.01||Prize Pack|
|9||Andrew HARTCHER||NSW||1||0.95||3||1.95||4||2.9||Prize Pack|
|10||Jonathan THOMPSON||QLD||4||2.19||1||0.56||5||2.75||Prize Pack + 1st Pro|