Singleton BASS Pro Ben Peperall did something that few anglers have done on the Skeeter Boats BASS Pro Tour securing his second win in successive years at St Clair to stamp his authority on one of the popular stops of the tour.
Compiling a 6/6, 4.58kg two-day limit to claim his first win for the season Pepperall held a fast finishing Kylie Cornish to second and Steve Richards to third, to now hold a commanding position (199/200) in the best three-from-three rounds Skeeter Boats BASS Pro AOY race.
Victory for Pepperall was the result of a calculated game plan. The St Clair bass gun fished a pattern and lure that had been consistently producing fish right up to and during the tournament.
“The bass had been falling to vertically worked soft plastics for some time, but that was no secret. However, I made a couple of small changes to the approach that produced more consistent results,” said Pepperall.
Fishing a cut down 3” Berkley Gulp Minnow Grub, Pepperall broke away from the pack that was favouring the camo colour and used black. “The camo caught them but the black worked so much better,” said Pepperall.
“You could find the biggest concentrations of fish with the sounder then sit over the top of them and work your plastics through them, but to be truthful these fish are generally not the ones that are most active and likely to eat your lure. It’s the ones that hang wide of the pack that are doing the roaming and feeding, and these are the ones that you want to target,” said Pepperall.
Electricing away from the masses, Pepperall would drop his plastic to the bottom then work it vertically through the water with an ultra slow, rolling retrieve. If a fish bit, he’d just keep winding and wait for the enquiring fish to take the lure and load up the rod.
The area with this all took place was near Carnels Corner in Falbrook Reach, and featured a 40-45ft deep flat that dropped off into the old creek channel. The approach and location delivered Pepperall his limit by 10am in session one, by 3pm in session two and kept him waiting until the very end in session three.
“It was a real grind this weekend. The fish were there but you just needed to be patient and confident that you’d get them,” said the winner.
The tackle used to catch his fish included the 3” Berkley Gulp Minnow Grub rigged on a 1/4oz, size 1 TT Light Wire jighead, fish on a 6’10” Millerod Bream Buster Classic rod, 2000 Daiwa Sol reel, spooled with 6lb Sunline PE and 4lb Sunline fluorocarbon leader.
With his second event win in as many attempts and $3,700 in event winnings who could questions his rationale?
For event runner-up Kylie Cornish it was another solid performance with the Lochinvar basser claiming her best result to date on the BASS Pro Tour.
Cornish fished a deepwater soft plastic approach to catch her bag each session, and fished a 45-50ft deep flat just on the inside of the 8 knot zone in the Carabrook Arm of the lake. Her technique was text book vertical bass fishing.
While the action of the lure on the retrieve to the surface was important, equally as important was how the lure behaved on the drop.
“Fish can be easily put off by a plastic on the fall if it spirals or sinks unnaturally,” said Cornish. To overcome this she used one of the Atomic Seekerz jigheads, a design that sees the lure flutter and wobble on the drop. The outcome in this session was a 1.61kg limit. Session two would prove challenging, primarily from a stress level point of few.
“My electric motor stopped working, thankfully my husband Jade came over, checked it out, diagnosed it as unfixable and generously offered to give me his boat for the rest of the tournament,” said Cornish.
The boat swap had Cornish back on the water, refocused and fishing. The outcome was another limit and fourth place heading into the third and final session. With a top ten finish on the cards Cornish was calm under pressure, catching her biggest limit for the session (1.63kg) and leapfrogging into second, in the processing securing the second of the two boater Grand Final berths on offer at the event.
Claiming top honours in the non-boater division was 19 year old Bronte Bartlett of Bathurst. Fishing with Danny Robinson on day one, Bartlett fished deep for his bass, targeting them in 30ft in the lower reaches of the lake with a slow rolling Gulp Grub approach.
The technique was simple, sink the plastic to the bottom, slowly wind it back in, and if a fish bit keep winding until the rod loaded up. The approach was spot on with Bartlett catching his limit in both sessions on day one. Catching the last one on Saturday afternoon proved a real challenge.
Fishing with Glenbawn Kiosk Proprietor Peter Fogarty on Sunday Bartlett found the fish less numerous and active. “Day two was a real grind and I only managed to catch one fish, thankfully it was enough to get me over the line.”
Claiming his second top ten result for the season Bartlett is building as one of the anglers to watch in the non-boater Angler of the Year race. With round three at Boondooma the next event on the horizon Bartlett will be hoping his good form follows him interstate.
The Big Bass Prize for the event went to session one leader Mark Lennox with the Armidale angler catching the $500 prize fish on a black Heddon Torpedo off a weed edge in Carabrook arm of the lake not long after the start on day one.
Attention now turns to the first of the two QLD rounds of the series, with anglers hitting Lake Boondooma on 18/19 June. With recent floods changing the lake and Boondooma the venue for the end of season Skeeter Boats BASS Pro Grand Final, anglers will be keen to get the place wired and strike a pattern that will set them up for a solid back-end to the season. Visit www.australianbass.com.au to see how it all unfolds. – ABT
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