Big turnout for 1st BETS round

In the lead up to the first round of the Berkley Evinrude Team Series (BETS) for 2011 on Sydney Harbour all indications pointed to a well supported event – but even the organisers were taken aback at the huge field in attendance. All 78 teams were ready and waiting before the scheduled whistle at 7am.

The large field consisted of a solid mix of old hands, and first timers keen to mix it with the “big boys”. Joining the local anglers were teams from well north and south of Sydney, Bathurst and the ACT as well as a sprinkling of the big names: Darren “Dizzy” Borg and Ben Godfrey from Queensland, and BETS regulars Kris Hickson and Russell Babekuhl.

Part of what makes Sydney Harbour such a great bream fishery is the diversity of water and available conditions. Be it dirty water, clean water, flats, boats, bridges, pontoons, natural structure, deep jigging the list goes on and on. Even with such a huge field teams can spread out and fish whatever style they choose, confident that a change of tactic or location is never very far away.

A great example of this was the day of Team Squidgy, Bill Karayannis and Chris Cleaver. No strangers to the Harbour they found it a tough morning with only one half decent fish and another smaller model swimming around the live well by 11am. Pretty confident of finding a bag the team had another tactic up their sleeves and moved from Middle Harbour to hit some washes near the front of the Harbour.

Calling upon their knowledge on the Harbour Billy and Chris had noticed the water temperature was only at around 18 degrees where as the previous Friday it had been around the 22 degrees mark. The cold water currents sitting off Sydney had pushed into the Harbour so the plan was to wait for the tide turn and start running hard to bring warmer, coloured water and active fish to the washes. Sure enough the tactic worked with the boys accounting for some 30+ bream from 30 to 34cm. What the boys thought was about 3.5kg of bream pulled the scales down to 3.84kg in what the team described as “a nice surprise”. This nice surprise saw Team Squidgy take the win, the $3300 and Engel prize pack First Prize and those all important 100 points toward a BETS Grand Final Invitation. The lure that did the damage in the washes was the Squidgy Lobby in Grenade colour. As Billy noted, “This lure has more runs on the board than the English Cricket team and I shudder to think just how much in cash and prizes this awesome bit of plastic has won over the years.”

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Winners are grinners – Team Squdgy’s Bill Karayannis

In contrast to the rougher washes tactic of Team Squidgy, Team Quantum/Tacklepower/Matilda of John Balcomb and Ben Godfrey chose a calmer tactic and focused on the numerous marinas, pontoons and rock walls around the Harbour. With a run of favoured spots from Rose Bay to the Gladesville Bridge John and Ben used a tag team approach with Ben fishing a G38S model Maria Crank Bait in BGM or BBOM colour and John the Berkley 2inch Jigging Grub in Camo or Banana Prawn pattern.

Using traditional techniques, pitching the lure in to dark corners and around encrusted pylons the team spent the day moving from spot to spot and gradually accumulated the quality fish. “We just hopped around. If someone was on the spot we wanted we just moved to the next one.” said John.

It was a profitable approach for Ben and John the pair coming home with a quality bag of 3.74 kg to secure second place, $2200 and a $480 Prize Pack courtesy of new BETS sponsor Mako Eyewear.

Coming up in third place Team Dakau Rods of Brad Biddleston and Mick Smith made the most of the variety of conditions and used the old “if it looks fishy it probably is fishy” approach to spot selection. Focusing on the Lane Cove River arm Brad and Mick also used a variety of techniques to secure their fish, picking up a few fish with each technique be it blades, surface or the classic deep diving Chubby.

And it was the old classic Chubby that secured a fish that at 1.36kg not only provided the foundation for a great bag but also the won them the Evinrude Big Bream award for the round. Coming from a deep edge the cracking fish paved the way to a 3.64kg bag earning the boys $1800 and $300 in Tacklepower vouchers. In addition the Evinrude Big Bream provides for paid entry into Round Two and the opportunity to lead the field out on to Lake Macquarie.

BETS Round Two takes place at Lake Macquarie on January 16.

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