Tasmania’s Pat Sullivan beats Australia’s best

Tasmanian, Pat Sullivan recently won the ABT Derwent Bream Qualifier against Australia’s best tournament anglers. This is how he did it.

The 2010 Tasmania ABT BREAM qualifiers have come and gone for another year. Tasmanian is lucky to have arguably the best bream fishery in Australia. As far as size goes we are second to none!
Each year Tasmania hosts two ABT BREAM qualifier rounds, the first two day event being held at St Helens in Georges Bay and the second round is a three day super series event held on the Derwent River in the states south. From an angler’s point of view both rounds are governed by the same rules, with the Derwent Super Series round also having a “top 10 shootout” on the 3rd day whereby the top 10 pro’s after day two, fish by themselves with an observer. For anyone unfamiliar with these types of events, a pro is someone with their own boat, while an amateur or non boater is paired with a pro for each days fishing. Amateurs and pros don’t fish directly against one another, but in separate divisions and each aim to weigh in their biggest 5 bream each day. All fish are released at the end of the day to be caught next time guaranteeing the fisher continues to flourish for many years to come.
Having finished in the top 10 for the past four years but never managing to place higher than 3rd, Patrick Sullivan had always aimed to finally crack the Derwent in a qualifier event. On a system that requires more than just catching a bag of bream each day as is the case in many tournament locations, The Derwent is renowned for producing big bags, however backing up these bags over a three day event will always be a challenge. In 2010 while the bag sizes where down on previous years the results prove consistency was the key, as Sullivan was one of only two anglers to weigh over 5 kilograms on each of the three days to finish just ahead of his nearest rival by less than 150grams.
After not fishing the Derwent system for 12 months the practice day was spent covering as much water as possible, trying to locate not only the areas that held greater quantities of fish but also where in the system the larger specimens where more frequent. During the day Sullivan managed to catch fish throughout most of the fishable water ranging from below the Tasman Bridge and up river past Bridgewater Bridge. After spending seven hours on the water fishing hard bodied lures and Berkley GULP soft plastics, it was decided that the plan of attack for day one would be to head upstream towards Bridgewater to fish the falling tide, before heading downstream as the tide turned to come in.

Day 1
Day one started well with four fish coming off the Bridgewater Bridge by 8:30am all taken on a 3” GULP fry in camo colour fished on a 1/8th once Nitro jig head. Moving upstream to a weed edge Sullivan caught his fifth fish and upgraded twice by 10am. The highlight being a 40cm to fork fish that ate his hard body lure as it was paused only metres from the boat. Using 2lb straight through fluorocarbon, luck was on his side after the fish dived into the weed, however with gradual pressure it was able to be coerced out and into the waiting net.  With a good bag in the boat early the choice was made to head down stream in search for some larger upgrades as the tide pushed in. With the bright still conditions the bright shut down and other than a couple of undersize fish Sullivan failed to land a legal after 10am. Weighing in a bag of 5.6kg seemed like a solid, yet not exceptional effort however it was enough to claim first place but only by the smallest of margins.

Day 2
Day two started as almost a carbon copy of day one, with the Bridgewater Bridge being the first port of call. While not as productive as the previous day, two fish were again boated by 8:30am, at which time a move was made to Sullivan’s weedy edge further upstream. With the bright still conditions the fishing was much tough than the previous day. With two more average fish boated and several fish pulling the hooks things certainly looked grim. Having not landed a legal bream in four hours fishing below Bridgewater Bridge the previous day it was decided to head back to the bridge in the hope the fish had switched on with the incoming tide. Switched on they had! First cast with a GULP fry produced Sullivan’s fifth fish to complete his bag. With a further 3 upgrades over the next hour he again managed to bump his bag to a touch over the 5kg mark for the day. After day two he had fallen to second place with a gap of a mere 60grams separating the top two anglers.

Day 3
Day 3 of a super series is always exciting for all angers involved. Only the top 10 anglers get to fish on the third and final day and unlike the previous two days angler’s fish alone with an observer on board who is unable to assist the angler in any way. Day three would end up to be an almost carbon copy of day two with both the Bridgewater Bridge and a extended weed edge to be Sullivan’s two go to spots. The bridge would produce three fish in by 9am all coming to Berkley Gulp 3” fries. Heading upstream the windy overcast conditions proved to be favourable for the weed edge bite, however keeping the hook in the fish proved to be challenging with several fish dropped before Sullivan could claim his fifth bream to fill his bag. With the darker conditions he opted to change to a large soft plastic using the 4” Berkley Gulp turtle back worm in camo colour. A move back to the bridge proved successful with the incoming tide turning the fish on. Landing a further 3 fish Sullivan was able to upgrade each time to slowly build a solid bag.
Arriving back to the weigh in it was evident that most had found the fishing to be at least reasonable on day three. With less pressure on the waterway nine of the top ten anglers managed to weigh their full, five fish bags on day three. As per the previous two days the fish size remained fairly small by Derwent standards with only four bags weighing in at over 5kg. With a touch under 5.3kg on day 3, Sullivan was able to snatch victory by the slimmest of margins.

The winning tackle
Sullivan used the following gear: Pflueger Supreme rods 6’6” and 7’ 2-4kg and 1-3kg. Pflueger Supreme XTS 2000 reels, Stren Mircofuse 3lb braid, Berkley Trilene 2-6lb fluorocarbon leader, Nitro jig heads 1/8th-1/16th and Berkley Gulp soft plastic 3” fry and 4” turtleback in camo colour.