The BETS Grand final hosted at the International Boat Show is one of Australia’s premier bream tournaments held at Darling Harbour with an audience filled arena.Positions are limited to the top 20 teams, which are based on your best 4 out of 6 qualifying rounds. When you consider there is approx 200 teams throughout the year that all try to qualify for a spot, it is such an achievement to qualify and reach the Grand final.
The anglers that have fished in the Grand final will share with you the excitement and feeling of pride that they experience. The buzz of the crowd makes you proud to be there and represent your sponsors. It is also great that there are only 19 other boats so there is a lot of respect between competitors not to step on any toes in the fishing arena. Most competitors will put in a lot of time on the water and homework with the exception of the pre-fish ban 4 days before. A bream bite can change from week to week, on different tides and moon phases so we didn’t plan to look around until official pre-fish day on the Friday. We had fished it 4 weeks before at the Squidgies Southern Bream Series where Josh and Matt took it out fishing the washes.
The Squidgies round confirmed our thoughts that the bream were at the front of the system on spawn run. We confidently felt that by the time the BETS Grand final came around that the bream would have moved up through the river systems. Our plan on pre-fish day was to quickly check 3 spots to get a feel of where the bream were. Of course we tried the Lane Cove River but so did 10 other boats after winning it up there in last years Grand final. The fish were not showing up on the sounder like they did last year and we only ended up catching flathead, good whiting and undersize bream. There were plenty of mullet up river so we couldn’t understand why the bream were not up there yet. We tried Hen & Chicken Bay, but there was no bait movement up there and the snot weed was present. Once the snot weed moves in we feel that the bream move out. We still had no legal bream. Next up was to try blading a few deeper holes, still no joy.
It was now time to go in for rehearsal of how we are to park the boats and behave during the Grand final. We were informed at the briefing that even if we didn’t catch any fish, that we would still, be required to go up on stage (ouch – so didn’t want this to happen). After rehearsal was over I convinced Scott that we needed to keep fishing to find some bream. We pulled over into a bay where there was plenty of bream showing on the sounder and bait balls. We ended up pulling our first legal bream for the day. This was now a plan of where we were going to start from.
After both days we moved up and down the Parramatta River, back to the Lane Cove and just struggled the whole tournament to find legal fish. We caught plenty of undersize bream, large flathead, some great whiting, a cracking trevally and plenty of tailor. We managed to only catch 5 fish out of 10 for the weekend and finished up 19th position out of 20th. There were other boats that fished some similar areas as us but unfortunately for us, when we moved and changed spots another boat moved in and smashed some 34’s, 37 bream to the fork. It was all about the timing and we just either moved to soon or too late. It just wasn’t meant to be.
My opinion is that we are all winners whether it is first place or last. I am sure everybody thinks about what they could have done better. Josh & Matt how they could have caught 5 fish on the second day, Mark and Adrian being the bridesmaid’s two years in a row, Tracey changing game plans after catching a good bream on pre-fish which confused her original homework, ourselves disappointing why we didn’t catch our 10 and Dave & Greg catching an approx 3.5kg bag on pre-fish day and then not managing a bag either during the Grand final. You can’t dwell on the past, just live and learn from your mistakes. Sometimes it is not even about making mistakes, it is just fishing.
Congratulations to all the competitors whom competed. Winners are grinners!
Vicki Lear is a self confessed fish-a-holic and works as a real estate agent to support her habit. Far from being a “one trick pony” she excels at many diverse styles of fishing from land based game fishing to offshore gamefishing. As well, she kicks most guys butts at Bream and Bass fishing.
Read more of Vicki’s stories here