The Rod Battlers Break Through for their first win on their Home Water
The Shimano BCF Bream Classic the 3rd Round in the Atomic Vic Bream Classic hits the Hopkins River, Warrnambool, Graeme Taylor's home waters. 72 skilled anglers slogged it out over a gruelling 2-day tournament, with many teams hoping and praying to the weather gods to hold off the rain. Those teams lucky enough to get out for a pre-fish had the rumours flying, this weekend was going to be a hard one to win.
Warrnambool welcomed all 36 teams in style with the wind and rain rarely letting up all weekend. With some of the anglers deciding to don their thermals and beards to keep themselves warm. Many people might think that with the horrible weather forecast for the weekend that it may dampen the spirits of the anglers, but that was clearly not the case. With locals Corey McLaren and Lewis Holland from team Rod Battlers being the team to beat, would they be able to hold off the rest of the field and not buckle under pressure. Already leading into the tournament Corey and Lewis were already under the pump to give away the secrets and local knowledge of hot spots in the river. They gave away little knowledge about where to fish, as they went into Saturday with no plan on how to attack the day.
Rowans Lane Flat was not the Rod Battlers first choice of places to fish, however leaving down the field meant that many of the spots they wanted to fish already had anglers casting. They could do nothing more than watch cast after cast fall into the waters they wanted. This may have proven a gift in the long run, Corey picking up his Gloomis Gl2 already rigged with a 2.5' Zman Grub, he was able to tempt bream after bream that were hiding in the reeds. Soon they had their bag and had fished Rowans Lane dry, moving up to the Hen and Chicken. This proved to be the best decision for the day with 2 amazing upgrades a nice 38cmand 35cm sealed an already cracking bag.
With the Day 1 weigh in seeing bag after bag being weighed in the pressure mounted on Team Rod Battlers knowing they have a nice 5 bag of fish with a few upgrades, however they were not expecting the 4.17kg to appear on the scales pushing them into 1st place, leaving Mark Hayes and Steven Sikovski from Team Barflies in 2nd only 0.28kg off the lead. Declan Betts from team Bubba Shrimp shot themselves into 5th position with his 1.17kg bream; this puts them in a great position to take the lead from the boys. Now all the teams need to do is back it up again on Sunday.
All smiles as Team Rod Battlers arrived for the start of the most important day; usually this is when the pressure proves too much for teams. Nevertheless they were up for the challenge, this time with a game plan. Starting at Rowans Lane again, although this only produced 2 legal leaving them with only 3 hours to find 3 legal fish. This is where Corey and Lewis had the upper hand and local knowledge, 3 weeks prior to the tournament they were lucky enough to find a school of bream higher in the river. On their way up many other teams wanted to know how they were going, slowing down they stopped two teams along the way, suddenly that 1st place trophy was slowly slipping away with the thought they may not be able to bag out today. What else could they do, they desperately needed 3 more so they dropped the electric and began fishing the shallows, again Corey resorting to one of his favourites the Zman Grub although this time not fishing it how he usually would. Deciding on the painfully slow retrieve with only small lifts resulted in the 2 more legal fish they were hoping for. Only 1 more was needed and the decision was made to stay where they were and stick at it. This really payed off as they landed a smashing 40cm bream ultimately adding that much needed weight to their bag. Lewis stayed continuous throughout the Saturday and Sunday always resorting back to his favourite Lox 7ft6 Rod matched with his Daiwa Freams 2000. Lewis smashed the bream with the Cranka Crab, when the fish were biting 3 weeks before and the colour did not matter, however during the tournament the Cockle Colour did all the damage.
2pm rolled in rather fast for the anglers, with bag after bag of 5 fish being weighed in, the pressure was mounting for the boys to see if they could hold onto the lead. This seemed to be the case when Team Barflies sitting in 2nd and Team Lowrance HDS Paul Malov and Alex Franchuk in 3rd position with both Teams only have 3/5 fish in the well. This left room for Bubba Shrimp to jump from 5th position and a chance to snatch the lead from the Rod Battlers, however they fell 0.31kg short of taking the lead leaving them sitting in 2nd place. With no other teams in a position to challenge Team Rod Battlers it was official that the locals had taken out the Shimano BCF Bream Classic Champions Trophy with 10/10 Bream for 7.59kg. Team Loft Paul Holmes and Greg Rooke stepped up to the scales and with a smashing bag with 5/5 bream for 4.60kg including a massive 1.35kg bream they snatched the JML Anglers Alliance Big Bream away from Declan Betts along with handing the boys the Maria Lures Best Bag for the weekend. In a truly special and memorable moment for Team Loft their cracking Day 2 bag handed them the first annual Graeme Taylor Perpetual Trophy. This Trophy was in honour of the late Graeme Taylor who sadly passed away earlier in the year. Being a fantastic angler who was known for coming home with a wet sail on Day 2 of tournaments, its fitting that his memorial trophy is awarded to the team that completes that exact same feet he did many times, in weighing in the heaviest Day 2 bag. The Graeme Taylor Memorial Trophy with go down as a must win trophy for teams at the Hopkins River rnd every year.