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Team Zerek's 2021 Gold Coast Flathead Classic

By Stephen Booth

In a year like few others, the 2021 Gold Coast Flathead Classic found a way to run, going full on line and delivering the results over three days of tournament fishing.

With travel restrictions imposed on most interstate travel, the event hosted 176 teams and 425 registered anglers, making it a massive event to co-ordinate digitally for the Gold Coast Sportfishing Club - a job they pulled off incredibly well.

We had three teams in the comp this year (Team Wilson, Team Zerek and Wilson Specials) and a heap of anglers using our products in the hunt for the win and I was lucky enough to get an invite onto Team Zerek with regular team member Adam unable to compete. Names such as Troy Dixon, Nick Whyte, Kord Luckus, Rob Payne, Ross McCubbin and David Green were fishing alongside and against a host of newcomers ready to show their wares to the angling world.

With three days of fishing, it was always going to be an interesting comp, especially given the availability of a 'Live' scoreboard where those competing and those not competing could keep tabs on their favourite anglers and teams progress.

The forecast was nasty on Day 2 and 3, with rain, wind and ordinary conditions predicted, so this comp was always going to be a test of the angler's ability to block out the outside noise and perform when it mattered.

Day 1 (6:30am - 4pm)

Team Zerek (Troy Dixon, Darren Dixon and myself) started Day 1 in the Tipplers Passage area, fishing shallow water to try and accumulate some early fish.

Within the first hour we all had points in the bin with the Dixon brothers having a legal fish each and me having a couple of unders. There were certainly fish around, but we simply couldn't keep the hooks in the fish. All three of us lost more-than-legal fish in that first hour, so it was decided the time had come for a move.

Moving south towards Couran Cove we fished a few creek mouths that had provided some good fish in the lead up weeks. They seemed devoid of life until a slight tick on my line stimulated a hard strike and 60cm of beautiful Gold Coast flatty came over the side - that's better. One more sub-legal shortly after and that was it, so another move was made, this time to an old favourite of Dicko's around the Tiger Mullet Channel area.

Sadly this produced only one undersized fish so Dicko made the call to head up towards Cabbage Tree Point to fish an area he loves.

As we arrived the tide was a little low so we fished the outside edge and came onto some good fish with three legals and a couple of unders coming aboard before we hit 'the' spot. This moved proved fortuitous with another three legal fish coming aboard including a beautiful 66cm fish for Troy.

Our final move was made as the clock ticked over to 1pm and the wind really started ramping up.

We moved to an area near Slipping Sands and before the boat had settled on Spot Lock, I'd hooked a legal fish. Two casts later and another legal came over the side and that started a run of 20 flathead in the last session that included 8 legal fish!

Overall Day 1 saw our boat land 39 flatties, numerous tailor, trevally and pike including 18 legal flathead and had us sitting in 5th place in the three person team category.

Day 1 Fish Captures

Time Length Angler
6:34:00 AM 27 SB
6:45:00 AM 22 SB
6:53:00 AM 46 TD
7:05:00 AM 25 DD
7:14:00 AM 40 TD
7:15:00 AM 38 DD
7:21:00 AM 44 DD
7:34:00 AM 34 DD
8:22:00 AM 60 SB
8:24:00 AM 20 SB
9:00:00 AM 27 TD
10:59:00 AM 41 TD
11:02:00 AM 27 SB
11:15:00 AM 42 SB
11:26:00 AM 49 SB
11:26:00 AM 23 TD
11:51:00 AM 42 TD
11:58:00 AM 45 SB
12:18:00 PM 66 TD
1:10:00 PM 43 SB
1:14:00 PM 55 SB
1:18:00 PM 39 TD
1:20:00 PM 39 TD
1:23:00 PM 51 DD
1:26:00 PM 37 DD
1:28:00 PM 38 TD
1:30:00 PM 43 SB
1:31:00 PM 35 DD
1:38:00 PM 59 TD
1:42:00 PM 34 SB
1:46:00 PM 30 TD
1:47:00 PM 31 SB
2:04:00 PM 38 DD
2:08:00 PM 42 TD
2:17:00 PM 31 TD
2:18:00 PM 34 DD
2:20:00 PM 58 TD
2:59:00 PM 32 SB
3:58:00 PM 43 DD

Day 2 (6:30am - 4pm)

Day 2 had a horrendous forecast but as we loaded the boat, the Gold Coast was eerily calm and the temperature was beautiful with no rain on the horizon.

Starting in the Tipplers area again, the fishing was similar to Day 1 with fish eating the lures but not sticking. It was an extremely frustrating first hour with only a couple of sub-legals landed.

This forced a move south and into some very shallow water. With the boat sitting in 70cm of water, we were casting lightly weighted Flat Shads up into 50cm or less of water, picking pockets and hoping for a few fish. While our attention was on the back of the boat, Darren snuck up the front and cast into the strengthening wind hooking up immediately on a super-fast running fish.

The battle was on and after a few false starts at the net, a magnificent 78cm flathead came onto the deck getting us all pumped up!

After the fish was measured and photographed, Darren cast to the same area and a solid clunk indicated another big fish, but sadly with one big head shake, the leader parted and the opportunity was lost!

As brothers do, Troy pulled the team back with a solid 55cm fish and I finally got a few fish including a 47 and 44cm flatty to add good points to the total.

The rest of the day was a struggle with constant spot changes, a plague of undersized fish and Dicko providing the highlight with a lovely 61cm fish. During the day the wind escalated to strong (about 15 knots), but the rain stayed away.

Day 2 was our down day and we slipped back to 7th in the three person team race, while the boys in Team Wilson had a good day and clawed their way up to 9th position. The final day would be the office showdown!

That night we had a magical lightshow put on by the storm front and after dinner we hatched our plans for a final assault!

Day 2 Fish Captures                   

Time Length Angler
6:38:00 AM 37 TD
6:42:00 AM 32 DD
7:42:00 AM 78 DD
7:58:00 AM 55 TD
8:07:00 AM 36 SB
8:17:00 AM 47 SB
8:42:00 AM 44 SB
9:41:00 AM 47 TD
10:09:00 AM 47 DD
1:01:00 PM 25 SB
1:03:00 PM 40 SB
1:09:00 PM 27 SB
1:11:00 PM 36 TD
1:28:00 PM 43 TD
1:52:00 PM 38 DD
2:36:00 PM 24 SB
2:38:00 PM 32 TD
2:41:00 PM 38 DD
2:42:00 PM 46 DD
2:48:00 PM 61 TD
2:51:00 PM 32 SB
3:10:00 PM 37 TD
3:15:00 PM 21 DD
3:39:00 PM 49 TD
3:47:00 PM 24 DD
3:58:00 PM 27 TD

Day 3 (6:30am - 2pm)

A shorter day, a poor weather forecast and mounting pressure had us starting the day north of our starting point for the first two days. Fishing a patch that had produced good fish over the last few years, we struggled for the first hour only putting one legal fish over the side, a 44cm fish that ate my 4" McArthy Paddle Tail rigged on a light PML jighead.

An hour was enough for Troy and he made the decision to head back to the area where Darren landed his 78, but with the tide still high, we slowly worked our way into the area fishing all the sand pockets along the way.

Our plan the night before included the two Dixon brothers fishing light in amongst the weed as they are both good at this tactic and I was going to throw around the big bait - a Bone Focus 130 to try and tempt an oversized fish. It was a try-to-win or lose-trying tactic making the most of each angler's skill set (trust me, I'm not near the level of finesse the Dixon boys are at when it comes to ultra-shallow flatties!).

This tactic paid off immediately with Darren scoring a 42 that was quickly followed by a 50 to the Focus for me. Ten minutes later, Darren hooked a solid fish that stretched the tape out to 69cm and had us jumping up and down with excitement. Two casts later, the Bone Focus got slammed as it glided over a weed patch a solid flatty exploded all over it and leapt clear of the water. We all got to see the fish before the hooks pulled and to say I was devastated is an understatement.

The disappointment didn't last long with four more fish coming over the side including a 62 and 44 before Troy took matters into his own hands and cranked up the skill level.

At roughly 9:30 we spied a wake coming off the flat we were fishing near and Dicko said that aint no stingray! He waited patiently as the wake kept coming towards us and when it was within casting distance, threw out his Fat Betty coloured Flat Shad and the wake immediately disappeared. I little jiggle of the rod and all hell broke loose as Dicko's reel started screaming and Darren and I cleared all the gear, as this was obviously the fish we wanted.

As the flatty came into view, there was no sign of the lure, which is a scary, scary sight when lighter leaders and light tackle is being used, but Dicko managed the situation expertly and glided the beast into the net where Darren secured it. As luck would have it, the moment the fish hit the net was the exact moment the leader parted, but the fish was secure!

This was as thick a flathead as I had seen and visions of 90cm came rushing into my head, but on the lie detector, this super heavy fish measured in at 80 glorious centimetres. We were absolutely pumped!

The next hour was a bit of a blur as we landed 5 more legal fish including a 60cm fish on the Bone Focus before Dicko loaded up on another hefty flathead.

Fighting similar to Darren's 78 and Troy's 80, we knew this was a good fish and when we first laid eyes on it, we knew we had to land this fish. The lure was not visible again, but after watching Troy land the first fish, I wasn't as nervous - until I realised I was on the net!

Luckily the fish glided into the net first pass and we lifted another stonker aboard, a flatty that stretched the tape out to 79cm - the Fat Betty Flat Shad again proving its worth!

The rest of the day seemed somewhat anti-climactic, but we put another three excellent scoring fish of 57, 59 and 59cm onto the score sheet to finish up with a total catch of 20 flathead for 16 legals!

It was an epic last session with some seriously good Gold Coast flathead and we were keen to see where that had us finish.

DAY 3  Fish Captures                

Time Length Angler
6:48:00 AM 44 SB
7:37:00 AM 42 DD
7:42:00 AM 50 SB
7:58:00 AM 69 DD
8:03:00 AM 34 DD
9:00:00 AM 62 SB
9:02:00 AM 44 DD
9:22:00 AM 37 DD
9:32:00 AM 80 TD
9:34:00 AM 29 DD
9:37:00 AM 60 SB
10:03:00 AM 40 SB
10:40:00 AM 58 DD
10:48:00 AM 55 DD
10:51:00 AM 41 DD
11:18:00 AM 79 TD
11:34:00 AM 57 TD
12:18:00 PM 59 TD
12:28:00 PM 59 SB
12:29:00 PM 39 DD

The Wash Up

After all the figures were analysed it was awesome to discover that Team Zerek had finished fourth overall and in the 3 person team categories with 3,731 points. To our delight Troy (Dicko) had worked his way into the Top 10 individuals with 1,570 points, while Darren and I both scored over 1,000 points each.

Our other two teams, Wilson Specials and Team Wilson, finished 9th and 12th respectively in the 3 person team category, making for a brilliant finish for Wilson Fishing.

As a company we were excited to later learn that the Champion Female angler, Sara Balneaves, caught her fish trolling the 50mm Zerek Tango Shad and the Longest Flathead for the comp was caught by Daniel Freeman on a Zerek Live Flash Minnow Wriggly fished off his Blade N Tails 6-12lb spin rod!

It was an epic tournament in very trying Covid conditions and all credit must go to the people who had to manage everything behind the scenes. An incredible job to get it done.

Champion Angler Top 10

1       Thomas Ryan                        2173             Team Reel Easy

2       Guy McConnell                    1963             Team Reel Easy

3       Warric Johnston                  1945             Last Cast

4       Ian Outzen                            1925             Team Stryker

5       Jamie McKeown                  1888             Nulook Floors Northern Rivers

6       Stuart Grice                           1695             Doug Burt's Tackle World Gold Coast

7       Brad Job                                 1620             The Mad Hueys Heritage

8       Troy Dixon                             1570             Team Zerek

9       Ben Job                                   1445             The Mad Hueys Heritage

10     Franco Martinese               1399             Dead Fishy

Team Zerek Results

Total Length

Total Fish

Average Length

Legal Fish

3591cm

85

42.25cm

45

Top 20 Overall Teams

Place Team Points
1 Team Reel Easy 5028
2 The Mad Hueys Heritage 4237
3 Doug Burt's Tackle World Gold Coast 3963
4 Team Zerek 3731
5 Dead Fishy 3360
6 Team On Strike 3271
7 Sportys Swainskis 3032
8 Nulook Floors Northern Rivers 2884
9 Last Cast 2863
10 Lowrance Whyte Boyz 2752
11 Wilson Specials 2728
12 Show Us Ya Flatties 2712
13 Team Sands 2472
14 Wilson Fishing 2471
15 Shads Lures 2373
16 Bend It N Send It 2336
17 Team Gem Bait and Tackle 2233
18 Jigging Lures Trio 2186
19 Switchbait 1858
20 Team Wack'em Atomic 1698

 

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