It was with mixed emotions that I pulled into Crams Farm at Clarrie Hall for the 2011 ABA Clarrie Hall Bass Classic.
Clarrie Hall is a mystical place when shrouded in mist and lily pads, but I was driving through a tropical downpour and had been for the last half an hour! The event is also one of those events that I knew I should always have gone to, but work and life got in the way. This all changed in 2011 when the stars aligned. No production of the mags, no family commitments, just a few days of freedom and fishing. Who cares about the rain?
The Australian Bass Association’s (ABA) Clarrie Hall Bass Classic is an invite only tournament where anglers compete against one another to measure their biggest 10 bass over the weekend. It’s a fun event that is not taken too seriously by anyone I spoke to and that made this tournament a welcome return to tournament fishing for me. I don’t fish near enough these days and I am not going to stress about a serious life or death tournament when my spare time comes around and the ABA event provides a great opportunity to get out.
ABA are responsible for stocking a few different waterways in Queensland and NSW along with doing extra work recovering fish trapped in spillway pools, providing hands on the ground on stocking days and more. They are a small and active group of keen bass anglers that make a big difference in their own right. The Clarrie Hall comp is a major fund raiser for them and I was happy to have my entry fee go toward feeding me and stocking some fish somewhere.
And speaking of food, well I reckon I may have packed on a few extra kilograms and the catering effort is something a lot of tournaments should look at. Not once was anyone hungry or disappointed (apart form my fishing partner at the lack of high grade, ground bean and percolated coffee!) and it kept the fires burning for the casual hours the competition holds.
This year ABA announced that lure making legend Kevin Clarke would be their first patron. An honour well deserved by Kenvin who has been lauded in bass fishing circles for his consistent efforts over many years at improving bass fishing and the bass’s lot in life. Kevin was typically humbled by the honour, as befits the man, and the reasons why he was honoured.
The fishing at Clarrie was a little tough. The rains on Friday meant the lake was flowing over the spillway by about 8-12 inches and there was a slight current flowing through the lake. Anglers fished from the boat ramp at Crams Farm, all the way down to the marker buoys just up from the dam wall and fish were caught everywhere.
I don’t know of any team absolutely slaying the fish, but the teams that worked hard and persisted were rewarded for effort with fish ranging from 123mm (yep that was my smallest fish for the comp!) up to an impressive 390mm model that took out biggest bass and won the lucky angler, Shane Brown, a collector’s set of Rob Gaden timber lures.
The teams event was won by the team of Tony Zann and Wayne Lodington on 3455 points with the runners up being Bassman Spinnerbaits Glen Casey and Dan Steele with 3346 points. The teams winners are calculated by the teams 10 largest bass. Individual champion titles were won by Shane Brown with 1840 points for the seniors and Jayden Ferris with 1410 points for the juniors. The state of origin was won by Queensland, and this is calculated by the total catch of the top five anglers from each state. Apparently NSW forgot to go fishing, or at least that’s what the Queenslanders told me.
Overall a massive number of bass were caught, measured and released, a heap of ell-tailed catfish were also caught and everyone had a ball.
The team from ABA, assisted by the Brisbane Valley Anglers who helped with the mountains of food, should be thanked for such a generous time effort to put the event on for the competitors. It’s a great comp and one I’d love to fish again if I can convince them to run it on a weekend that is not in my production period. Hint, hint organisers!Reads: 2122