The opening round of the 2012 Smak Lures Bass Pro Series was always going to be a hard fought event with good fishing on the cards and plenty of extra sponsor’s bonus prizes courtesy of Samurai Reaction Rods.
Matt Johnson rose to the top to secure his maiden ABT victory with an impressive 6/6 bag for 7.91kg. Johnson compiled his winning bag at Leisegangs Ledge, using a two-pronged approached.
Matt would begin each session searching for the moving schools. “The key was to find and then follow the active schools as they moved in and out of the bay. I found the more active fish were suspended at the 20ft mark regardless of the bottom depth,” said Johnson.
After locating the active fish the key was to alternate the approach throughout the session. Matt started the session casting a Keitech Swing Impact in male perch, rigged on a TT 3/8oz jig with a light wire hook. Casting the lure out across the school Matt then counted down the lure for 15 seconds. When the lure was in the strike zone he would start a consistent slow rolling retrieve.
Once the fish tired of Matt’s approach he would then opt for a 19g Jackall Mask Vib 60 in pearl ayu. Johnson would again cast the lure out across the schools, sink it to the required depth then retrieve it using short hops to entice the fish to bite.
Showing his attention to detail Matt would regularly change his trebles and jigheads to make every bite count, as well as painting his jigheads to give his presentation that winning edge. “Painting my jigheads may sound excessive but it all helps to give me confidence on the water,” said Johnson.
“It’s great to come away with the win, after the effort that we put in finding fish. I’m looking forward to travelling south and hope to continue my good form.”
In second place was Berkley’s Mark Mangold with 6/6 for 7.49kg. Mangold fished in the same area as event winner Johnson (Leisegang’s Ledge), but concentrated most of his time in the back section of the bay.
In the first and second sessions Mark used a vertical presentation, dropping his plastic through the schooled fish before slow winding the lure back to the boat. Mangold also found most of the active fish where suspended in 20ft of water.
His lure of choice was 3” Gulp Minnow Grub in camo colour rigged on 1/2oz dam deep jighead. With his pattern dying at the end of session two, Mangold knew that he would need to change his game plan for session three.
In session three Mangold fished the same area as the two previous session, but chose to cast across the schools of moving fish, allowing his lure to cover more ground. Once cast, Mangold would then allow the lure to sink into the strike zone before starting a slow roll back to the boat.
“One of the keys for me on that final day was the use of the 1/2oz jighead. Using a slightly heavier jig meant the lure would track more horizontally keeping it around the magic 20ft mark for longer” said Mangold.
Joshua Schwerin kicked off his ABT career with the perfect start taking the non-boater win with 6/6 for 7.23 kg.
In the process Schwerin also secured the event Big Bass with a cracking session three 1.90kg Boondooma bruiser.
During session one and two Schwerin fished a Jackall Mask Vib in 30ft of water. Casting across a flats area he would let his lure sink to the bottom before doing two short hops then allowing the lure to sink back to the bottom. Bites would come as the lure fluttered to the bottom.
In the final session Schwerin changed tacts, as his boater searched for suspended fish in 40ft of water. Schwerin would cast his Jackall Mask across the suspended schools, allowing it to sink for 8-10 seconds before doing the same double hop retrieve in midwater.
The event Big Bass came late in session three for Josh, “As soon as it hit I knew it was a better class of fish. It fought all the way to the boat.”
With his ABT career only just beginning Schwerin will be one to watch in the future.
Plastic: BarraBass Rod – IP841, Daiwa Certate, 3lb Power Pro and 8lb fluorocarbon leader, Keitech Swing Impact in male perch and 3/8oz TT jighead.
Mask: BarraBass Rod – XSB843, Daiwa Fuego Spin, 5lb Power Pro and 8lb fluorocarbon leader, 19g Jackall Mask Vib.
Matt’s win wasn’t just luck. Johnson and his travel partners did their homework finding fish six weeks out from the event. Importantly they used their prefish time to confirm what they found, rather than stinging fish for the tournament.
The event Big Bass went to ABT debutant Josh Schwerin, with his 1.9kg kicker fish from session three. The tournament Big Bass fell to a hopped Jackall Mask Vib, while fishing through schools of suspended fish.
|1||Matt JOHNSON||6/6||7.91||$3100 + $500 Bonus|
|7||Bill SCHLOSS||6/6||6.71||$675 + $300 1st Pro|
1Joshua SCHWERIN 6/67.23Prize Pack + Big Bass
2Ray HOLMES 6/66.43Prize Pack
3Timothy WHITE 5/65.10Prize Pack
4Todd CORMACK 4/64.74Prize Pack
5Dan MALLORY 5/64.54Prize Pack
6Dean THOMPSON 4/64.28Prize Pack
7Dylan GLOVER 4/64.16Prize Pack
8Deborah KOWALCZYK 4/64.08Prize Pack
9Greg MITCHELL 4/63.34Prize Pack
10Steve LOWCOCK 3/63.05Prize PackReads: 1218