IT was a fitting end to the round stages of the 2012 Berkley Evinrude Team Series as teams fought it out for an invitation to next month's Grand Final on Sydney Harbour. Going in to the sixth and final rounds, two Queensland based teams found themselves in an almost must win situation. Team Simrad/Zipbaits and Team Lowrance HDS Gen 2 both only had three counting rounds in a best four of six scenario.
The Simrad team of Scott Butler and Josh Kirkness had made a few runs south from the Gold Coast to familiarise themselves with the fickle Lake Macquarie arena and set off with a plan firmly in mind. Some three hours later that plan had stalled and things were starting to look grim. Needing a decent bag to move forward in the Series the pair headed south to the renowned big fish waters of Chain Valley Bay and in contrast to the much talked about deep vibration bait bite chose a soft and slow plastic lure approach. It was an inspired move and fish of serious quality started coming aboard. With three crackers taken in one drift - the ubiquitous Gulp Shrimp in Pepper Prawn pattern was doing the damage and the pair realised they were about to be part of something special. Their smiles at the weigh-in gave the game away well before the fish hit the scales, but when they did the 4.77kg bag brought a gasp from the crowd and the 1.59kg corker that held the bag together scored a huge round of applause. It was a bag of fish to take away First Prize of $2500, an Engel Prize pack and the $250 Evinrude Big Bream award for that huge bream.
The Simrad team of Scott Butler and Josh Kirkness scored an impressive 4.77kg bag.
After several twelve hour trips to get a handle on Lake Macquarie it was reward enough, but the BETS Grand Final invitation that hung on the team's result was icing on the cake.
Team Lowrance HDS Gen 2 of Darren 'Dizzy" Borg and Tracey Mammen were in a very similar position, both travelling form Queensland and needing a great round to secure that Grand Final invite. The team however approached the event with decent confidence and seeing the breezy conditions on the morning of the tournament chose to head straight to the edges rather than pursue the expected deep bite. Within minutes it proved to be the right call with both anglers scoring fish. Using a hardbody and soft plastic approach the pair found either method would draw fish as long as they were in the right area and by nine o'clock a four kilo plus bag was in the live well.
Not long after the bite died away and the pair sought to upgrade the one small fish they had and tried several other spots for the rest of the morning. It was to no avail but in the end it didn't matter, the scales clunked down to 4.46kg and the job the pair came to do was done. A plump 1.36kg specimen helped the pair to $1700, a Mako Eyewear Prize Pack and of course that prized Grand Final Invitation.
After a tough few weeks on the lake it was pleasing to see good numbers of fish returned and the final opportunity to grab some points for the Grand Final was taken by a few and missed by a few more. It has been a staggering Series with over 160 teams having a crack at the prize pool and now we are down to the final 20 teams that get the chance to fight it out on Sydney Harbour for a top prize of $20,000, with a further $20,000 in cash and product prizes up for grabs.
Bring it on!