This blog post was inspired by a conversation that Josh and I had the other day, that was subsequently followed by a conversation with Steve Morgan. The premise of the discussions went something along the lines of this… “in relation to Bream Tournaments, are the fish getting bigger and dumber, or are anglers getting smarter and better at catching them…”?
Personally, my catch rates continue to improve, and I put that down to more refined techniques that are deadly on the bream. by refining the intricacies of the techniques, as my understanding of the species has increased has made them all the more effective.
I hope the question will prompt some discussion, but on the surface, my perception is that the bag weights in tournaments are getting bigger.
Take for example the BETS Bream Series. They run a tournament on Lake Macquarie at roughly the same time each year in winter. My initial thought during this discussion, was that the bag weights for this tournament have steadily increased over the past 3 years, and that the number of bag weights over 3kg have increased as well. These observations were based merely on my perception, and on no actual data.
I had a similar perception of the bags weighed over the past 3 years of the Australian Open, since it became an individual event, and held at the same time each year on Sydney harbour.
Well, I’ve crunched some numbers from the results of these 2 tournaments run in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and the data is very interesting. Check out BETS Bream and BREAM.com.au if you want to have a look at the raw data.
The Lake Macquarie results, run in June, show a clear cut trend. Over the last 3 years:
- The number of 5 fish bags (expressed as a percentage of teams entered) have nearly doubled.
- The number of bags weighing over 3Kg (expressed as a percentage of teams entered) have doubled.
- The number of teams coming back to the weigh master with a big fat donut (expressed as a percentage of teams entered), are on a steep downward trend
- Average bag weights have increased by nearly 50%
The Australian Open data is less convincing, but take into account that it is an event that runs over 3 consecutive days, plus a prefish day, so the results are more likely to be influenced by a smaller sample size, angler consistency and pressure on the fishery. This data also includes the 2013 event that ran in March, 2 months later than in previous years. Yet, we still see:
- Increase in the average number of fish weighed per angler
- Increase in the number of anglers presenting a full limit over 3 days
- The bag weights over 9 Kg (representing a consistent 3Kg bag weight over 3 days) trends downward, BUT
- The average bag weight per angler is actually increasing
Well what does all this mean? I’m fairly confident that these results would be reflected in catch rates of recreational fishers as well, (if there was data available), so I’m really interested to hear about your thoughts.
Perhaps some combination of the points below might form the beginnings of an explanation for these observations.
- With the amount of knowledge so readily shared and available these days on internet forums and websites such as lureandfly.com, with organisations such as ABT promoting the “Who Shares Wins” philosophy, anglers are getting better at catching bream on lures?
- The events being run at the same time each year, means that anglers need only review previous years results to know where to find the fish and how to catch them
- Recreational Fishing Havens, largely free of commercial fishing, including Lake Macquarie and Sydney Harbour have been successful in promoting a healthy fishery