Under dark skies and with gale forced winds the fifth and final qualifying round of the 2009 Humminbird Bream Classic Series moved to Warrnambool on the Hopkins River on the 15th and 16th of August for the Hooked On Rod's 'N' Reels Bream Classic. The pressure was on as not only was it teams last chance to qualify for the 2009 Humminbird Invitational, but this was the event that would determine who would be the 2009 Club Marine Team of The Year. With Team Smack That's Brad Hodges and Mike Hodges and Team Rip 'N' Lip's Warren Carter and Craig Seignior the main two teams in contention, the scene was set for an epic head to head battle.
Day 1 saw anglers move off in all directions illustrating that there was no real consistent area on the Hopkins where the bream were holding. With dirty water and poor weather conditions playing mind games with many teams it would be the team that could focus on a plan and follow it through that would have them up the leader board. This is what unfolded for Team Mako's Tim Atkin's and Frank Tzortzoukas who focused their attention on fishing the edges of the ski run only 500 metres or so from the start. Using squidgy wrigglers on light jig heads they managed to put together a solid bag of 5/5 bream for 4.14kg which had them leading after Day 1. Sitting hot on their heals with 3.5kg and confident of a good run home was Team Rip 'N' Lips who managed to execute an ingenious plan fishing only a foot of water with deep diving lures and using their motor trimmed down into the mud to hold them in place against the strong wind. Unfortunately for Team Smack That they couldn't continue their consistent form and only managed to weigh in one fish on day 1 putting them well out of contention. The huge highlight for Day 1 was the Eco-Gear Big Bream that was weighed in by Team Lowrance's Daniel Brady. With the current Australian record bream caught in a tournament standing at 1.99kg by Chris Wright in Tasmania, young Daniel had some pretty big shoes to fill, but as he walked up to the scales it was evident by the size of his bream that it could potentially really push the record. As the horse of a fish sat on the scales it pushed them up into the 1.9's and then bang it stopped on the magical 2.0kg mark and the Eco- Gear Big Bream was well and truly won on Day 1. It was great to see such a small system like the Hopkins River produce an Australian record sized bream like Daniel's.
After all the excitement of Day 1 had subsided it was time to focus on the final day. Anglers awoke to a text message from me wanting to have a 6.30am meeting as a huge electrical storm threatened to have the event cancelled. After much consultation with coast guard and water police it was decided that the storm would pass through but the start was delayed until 8am to ensure no angler was in danger. Once underway Team Rip 'N' Lips set about reeling in Team Mako. Using a combination of G Loomis Dropshot and Shimano T-Curve Rods matched with 2500 sized Shimano Sustain and Stradic reels. The boys headed straight to their favourite sand flat near Kings Head. Pushing their motor into the mud to hold bottom they started casting using Jackall Chubby deep diving lures in Sugi Shrimp and Blue Gill colours tied to 3lb fluro carbon leader and Berkley 4lb Crystal braid. "As the water was dirty we found we needed to have the lures in the bream's face to get the strike. By using the Chubby deep diving lures in such shallow water and by working the lure with a high rod tip we were able to rip the lures into the sand digging it up and getting the breams attention" Warren said. Even though the boys were crowed a little on Day 2 by some eager teams trying to reproduce Rip 'N' Lips success Warren and Craig were still able to put together a better bag than day 1 and when they weighed in 5/5 bream for 3.82kg giving them a total of 9/10 for 7.32kg they were always going to hard to bet. The result became clear when Team Mako only managed to weigh in 2 bream for 1.04kg that Team Rip 'N' Lips had secured the Hooked On Rods 'N' Reels Bream Classic victory and totally dominated the Club Marine Team Of The Year competition. One of the other standout performances was The 2 Macca's Nathan McKernan and Stuart McKinnon who took out the Berkley Best Bag Prize with their quality day 2 bag of 5/5 for 4.42kg which catapulted them from 13th to 3rd position.
Now its time to turn our attention to the big one, the 2009 Humminbird Bream Classic Invitational. The top 50 teams have been selected and the scene is set on October the 10th & 11th at Metung on the Gippsland Lakes for the most competitive bream classic the Humminbird Bream Classic Series has ever seen. For all the details log onto www.vicbreamclassics.com.au or head down for the weekend and join in the Grand Final celebrations.