Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Mandurah, Western Australia
The Hobie Kayak Bream Series 9 Australian Championship commenced in Mandurah, Western Australia with the Lowrance Pre-Fish Day on Friday, November 17 in hot, dry conditions with a light breeze blowing across Peel Inlet.
The field of 45 qualifying anglers competing in the tournament came from Western Australia (WA), South Australia (SA), Victoria (Vic), the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (Qld). From the event launch site, the anglers ventured in different directions across the arena sounding out and throw lures at its shallow, weedy flats, canal systems, two channels and two feeding rivers the Serpentine and the Murray.
On returning to shore mid-afternoon the majority of anglers had experienced their first taste of the system and offered comments that suggested that there were fish about the canals and bridges. But the same areas were plagued with toadfish (blowfish), although, there were bream among them and they were catchable with persistence, patience and a lot of lost and damaged lures.
The angler reports pointed to it going to be a difficult competition, but there were large fish about in specific locations, the expressed fear of those that found them was that they would shut down reasonably quickly.
Most had a good day and found it interesting having never fished in WA before, and despite the difficulties of bagging bream, they enjoyed their first day navigating and testing out the waterway and, for many, their first experience in a 2017 Hobie Pro Angler 14 with their forward-reverse MirageDrive 180 pedal system.
Local angler Alex Greisdorf from Halls Head in WA and the eventual runner-up in the championship said after pre-fishing,
“I had a bit of a fish to get used to the yak. I managed to pull a few fish and lose a few. It was a fun little day on the water, nice and warm, the yak went well so bring on a big three days. I won’t go the same direction tomorrow, I’ve got something up my sleeve. Today it was about trying out the kayak and pedalling for a few ks (kilometres) and just kinda (sic) having a fun day. I’ve done well in a couple of WA comps, but unfortunately, those results didn’t come at Mandurah, where I’ve found it a bit tough of late. Maybe she’ll come good for me this weekend. You’ve got to be in it to win it; anyone’s in with a chance, so we’ll see how I go”.
Day one of the Australian Championship kicked off early the next morning from inside the Mandurah Quay Resort marina in a 12 to 15 kt NNW breeze with cloudy skies creating optimal conditions for fishing.
The anglers pedalled out into Peel Inlet with the majority chancing the hour-long pedal to the mouth of the rivers to the west with some travelling for nearly an hour further upstream. 13 anglers though headed up Mandurah Channel towards the township and the canal systems just 20 minutes away.
Reports from sceptics of “no fish” in the location, were soon laid to rest when by around 8:30 am three of those anglers had already filled their Hobie Livewells with their bag limit of three fish.
At the end of the day one session the leaderboard was extremely close at the top end with Paul Burton (WA) leading the field with three fish for 2.17kg. He was followed by Alex Greisdorf with three fish for 2.15kg just 20g short of the lead, and Sean Higgins (WA) was a close third with three for 2.11kg.
The leader Burton who had been hitting the canals was concentrating on the older canal in the system rather than the newer ones, although he did throw lures in most and all of his fish were caught on rock structure close to pylons. He found the sorter rod more advantageous when fishing around and close to structure.
The average weight of fish caught on day one was 520g but Higgins smashed that mark, netting the monster of the day – at 1.29kg – in the canals and finishing his three fish bag by 8:40 am. He caught the fish throwing at a boat hull with a Z Man Grubz in watermelon with a green Pro-Tec painted jighead. That Atomic Big Bream won him $250 and at the finish of the event it turned out to be the biggest fish landed in the tournament. Massimo Salomone (WA) on 1.89kg and Simon Morley (NSW) bagging 1.72kg rounded out the top five.
There had been some excellent fish caught on the day in various locations across the arena, and many anglers, from the top to the bottom of the field, reported being busted off by some huge fish.
Like Higgins, a lot of other anglers who did well also had their three fish bag limit in their Hobie XL Livewells in the early hours of the session. Most found it much tougher to attract the bite later in the day and while some locations were stocked full of squeakers lingering among the blowies (blow fish), the right locations, if you could find them, had average fish at around 700g mark.
The rain teemed down on day two as anglers headed to the start but fortunately cleared and excellent conditions appeared just a few moments later. After assessing their day one performances, many competitors adjusted their strategies and took off in a different direction that of day one. Others who bagged out, and had deliberately left numbers of large fish in areas they had previously worked, headed back hoping to bag out early on the solid fish they had sighted but had left alone.
The field split 50-50 at the turning buoys at the start, with the “River Risk Takers” once again chancing the long journey to the Serpentine and Murray Rivers. At the same time, a much larger number than on day one headed to the canals. The canal group had their lures wet before the “River Riskies” had even got a third of the way to their destinations.
It was a huge gamble to head to the rivers, especially for those who go way up-stream, getting back on time could be difficult, particularly in a strong headwind. There was a chance of incurring a time penalty or even of disqualification if they were to get back after the 3 pm deadline. Nevertheless, many chose to travel the distance hoping to reap the riches that won Chris Burbidge (Vic) the 2014 Australian Championship in that same location.
At the close of the day, Alex Greisdorf who concentrated his plan of attack in the Murray River and the small canal system attached to the river had moved from second to the top of the leaderboard with 1.79kg on the day accumulating a two day total of 6 fish for 3.94kg. Paul Burton dropped to second with his day two bag of 1.73 kg and now had six for 3.9kg over two days. Simon Morley with the biggest bag of the day at 1.83kg moved up to third place with a six fish or 3.55kg total, knocking Sean Higgins into fourth. Higgins finished with six for 3.30kg after pulling in a 1.19kg bag on the day. Shane Owens (WA) moved up into fifth on 2.71kg and Luke Rogan (Qld) who had moved into the eighth position won the day two Atomic Big Bream $250 with his 960g bag kicker.
The Official Tournament Dinner took place in the evening. Chosen by his fellow anglers, Simon Morley’s camaraderie, sportsmanship and dedication to the Hobie Way of Life won him the Anglers Choice Award. He was presented with a trophy and will have his entry fee refunded. In recognition of his volunteer assistance to his fellow angler’s travel plans to the championship resort, Geoff Alford (ACT) was presented with the Mortgage Corp “Movers and Shakers” award, a power pack and a Hobie jersey. Michael Halliday won a Lowrance Elite-5Ti sounder, the same fish finder, mounted on the 2017 Hobie Pro Angler 14 kayaks used in the championship.
The Australian Team to compete in the 7th Hobie Fishing World Championship in Amal Sweden in May 2018 was then announced.
Following the dinner, a sensational fireworks display blasted into the sky off over the event site with a huge Bang!
In ideal conditions, tournament leader Alex Greisdorf was among the leaders of the pack that headed straight to the Murray River on the final day of the championship. Third-placed Simon Morley and fifth-placed Shane Owens were also “River Risk Takers”. Second-placed Paul Burton let that group go their way, and turned away to the left and powered straight to the canals for the third day straight, a decision that would ultimately pay huge rewards at the 2 pm weigh-in.
Fourth-placed Sean Higgins also chose to continue his assault on the title from the same area he had fished on the previous two days, and where he had caught his 1.29kg fish on day one. He was rarely sighted fishing outside a 300m radius over the three days of the event.
On their return to the event site, the Tournament Director commenced the live weigh-in at 2 pm (AWST) in front of a large crowd of interested onlookers.
Matt Williams from the Getaway Outdoors Group, who were such an integral part of the organisation of the event and Tanya McFarlane, Mandurah Quay Resort were both presented with trophies and jerseys signed by the competing anglers.
As on each of the two previous days, a $100 Donut Dough consolation prize was presented to raise the spirits of an unlucky angler who had caught no legal sized bream. Tameika Purnell (NSW) took the money on day three; day two went to Greg Cooper (WA), and on day one Kevin Boese (NSW) won the money. Specially designed Hobie trophies were awarded to the three Atomic Big Bream winners, followed by sponsor prize pack and souvenir placard presentations to the tenth to fourth-placed finishers in the championship.
10. Glenn Allen (NSW) 2.60kg
9. Shane Owens (WA) 2.71kg
8. Danny Jobson (NSW) 2.94kg
7. David Shanahan (Vic) 2.97kg
6. Joseph Gardner (WA) 3.27kg
5. Massimo Salomone (WA) 3.47kg
4. Simon Morley (NSW) 4.70kg
Finally, the top three anglers, in the 2017 Australian Championship, all Western Australians, were invited one by one up on stage. Morely had dropped out of the three and finished in fourth place, the Western Australians who had made the top of the leaderboard such an exciting tussle over the three days had regained the positions that they had held on day one.
Sean Higgins was the first up on stage to be greeted by Steve Fields the tournament director. Finishing in a creditable third place, Higgins landed three more fish on day three for 1.59 kg and totalled nine Black Bream over three days for 4.89kg.
After a massive battle for the top spot second place fell to local Alex Greisdorf who bagged 1.5kg up-river on day 3 giving him nine fish for 5.54kg. He had travelled over 80km by the end of the tournament heading to the Murray each day where he had fished slowly, twitching with a steady retrieve.
Greisdorf took on the Black Bream of the Murray with –
Rod: Duff Rod 7’0” 1-5 kg
Reel: Daiwa Ignis 2505
Line: Daiwa Evo 8, 8lb Pe
Leader: Sunline FC 3lb
Lures: ZMan Swinz 3” in bloodworm and hologram shad
Jigheads: TT Lures Hidden weight 1/16 and 1/28th in shallow water
TT Lures Headlockz 1/16th size 2 in deeper water
with stinger hooks
After an epic battle, the new 2017 Hobie Kayak Bream Series Australian Champion Paul Burton approached the stage to rousing applause from the enthusiastic crowd of onlookers and fellow competitors. On day three Burton bagged 1.91kg up in the canals towards the Mandurah township by fishing unweighted slow-sinking lures. The bag weight took his total to 5.81kg, 270g ahead of second-placed Griesdorf.
The main tackle combination used by the new champion was –
Rod: NS Black Hole Amped, 6’6″ 1-3kg
Reel: Abu Garcia Revo ALX. High Speed
Line: Sunline Bream Special 3lb
Leader: Sunline FC 3lb
Lures: Ecogear Ecogearaqua Bream Prawn 40mm in salt and pepper
An Ecstatic Burton – the first Hobie Fishing Australian Champion from WA – proudly hoisted the perpetual trophy over his head to an ovation from the large crowd of proud Western Australians. The new Australian Champion had claimed his title.