Mark Lennox claimed the ultimate prize in tournament BASS fishing in Australia with victory in the 2012 Smak Lures BASS Pro Grand Final at Hunter Valley’s Lake St Clair.
Compiling a 6/6, 5.93kg two-day limit to claim the win and the accolades, Lennox reined supreme in a talented field of anglers including two former Grand Final winners and four BASS Pro Angler of the Year winners.
Coming close to denying Lennox the victory was 19 year old Noosa bass fishing young gun Callum Munro, with the Berkley Bass Pro falling 720g short of claiming the title.
Victory belonged to Lennox, with the Armidale angler fishing a combination of blades and soft plastics to catch his fish each session.
With a game plan built on extensive prefishing leading into the event and information shared with a close network of fellow anglers, including Dean Silvester and Ian Wratten, Lennox headed straight to his go-to spot; a series of flooded ridgelines in the Carrowbrook arm, and started catching fish.
“It was the same area that I fished to get second place in the BASS Pro back in April, what differed though was the lure and technique that I used. At the BASS Pro I just used a blade, this time however I used a combination of blades and plastics,” said Lennox.
Starting shallow on the ridgeline Lennox would work deeper until he pin pointed where the fish were holding.
“The fish wouldn’t really eat the blade they’d just bumped it. So once I got a bump I’d wind it in and throw out a soft plastic.”
The retrieve for the blade was a slow five-wind and pause retrieve, while the plastic was slow rolled across the bottom.
“It was important to keep the lure in touch with the bottom. When the lure hit a snag or a rock, bumping it aggressively over it would often trigger a strike,” said Lennox.
Lennox’s choice of jighead aided in its ability to be bumped over any obstruction, with the flat profile of his Gamakatsu Flathead jighead rarely seeing the plastic hanging up. Lennox’s choice of jighead weight also played a big role.
“I used three different sizes [1/6, 1/4, 3/8oz] and found the commotion that the jighead made just as important as its sink rate. If the lure hit the water with a big splash it would quite often get the attention of a fish and you’d get a bite early in the retrieve or before you even started the retrieve,” said Lennox.
Lennox’s switch-baiting approach delivered him six fish in the first session, five in the second and six in the third. With only seven boats fishing the Carrowbrook arm Lennox was confident that the fish would handle the pressure over the two days but wasn’t confident that it would produce fish as big as the Falbrook arm.
“I caught a 1.57kg bag in the first session and I thought that was about as good as it was going to get, I wasn’t expecting to catch fish much bigger than this,” said Lennox.
Lennox was mistaken with his hot-spot delivering him the biggest bag (2.30kg) for session two and moving him into the top five. The pattern continued in the final session with Lennox presenting another quality limit to the scales. The final angler to hit the stage and weigh-in, Lennox only needed 1.66kg to secure the win. With 2.06kg hitting the scales it proved a comfortable victory, and one that Lennox is still trying to come to grips with.
“This is only my forth year fishing ABT events and my third as a boater, so to win against a field as good as this is hard to believe and very humbling,” said Lennox.
The victory inscribes Lennox’s name into the ABT record books and delivers him an all-expenses paid trip to the USA to fish a bass tournament.
“I can’t wait to make the trip, and I can’t wait for next year’s BASS Pro Series to begin,” said the 2012 Smak Lures BASS Pro Grand Final Champion.
For event runner-up Callum Munro it was a tournament built on the experience of the St Clair round earlier in the year and a successful prefish the day before the tournament.
“I caught fish in the upper reaches of the Carrowbrook arm back in April so I headed straight there on Friday morning and found that they were still in the area, said Munro.
A 30 minute run from the event start line it was a 1km stretch of bank that Munro found as his hot spot.
“I had two spots on my stretch: a 60m long timber strewn bank with about 10ft of water over it and another deeper (15-25ft) rocky edge that had plenty of shade.”
Fishing the timber edge first Munro’s technique was straight forward soft plastics-to-the-edge fishing, cast the lure to the edge, sink it to the bottom then lift and drop it across the bottom.
“The key was to make sure the lure stayed in contact with bottom,” said Munro. The bites, as expected, came on the drop as the lure was sinking back to the bottom.
The approach fired in the first session with Munro catching his bag quickly then leaving it to save it for the next session.
“I didn’t want to burn the spot, I wanted to make sure I managed my fish the best I could.”
Heading straight back there in session two Munro found the fish, but couldn’t get the result that he was looking for.
“I missed a bite on my first cast then pulled the hooks on a fish on my second. After that they shut down and I couldn’t get another bite.”
Swapping to the shaded bank on the opposite side Munro was quickly rewarded with a fish, followed by another fish, all with the same lift and drop soft plastic retrieve.
“The retrieve was the same but it only worked when you cast the lure in the shade,”said Munro.
The approach delivered Munro ten fish for the session and had him sitting in fifth place heading into the final session.
Back to his timbered bank in session three and the result was the same, no fish.
“I gave it 30 minutes then cut my losses and swapped to the shaded bank. I missed a fish on my first two casts and thought, ‘Oh no please don’t let it be one of those day,” said Munro.
His concerns were misplaced with Munro catching a fish on his third cast, and then another on his fourth cast. A string of fish followed allowing Munro to upgrade four times and finish the session with a 1.73kg bag.
The tackle Munro used to claim his best finish to date in a BASS Pro Grand Final included a 7’2”, 2-4kg Berkley Drop Shot Tournament Pro rod, Revo Premier 20 reel, 4lb Berkley Fireline Exceed mainline and 6lb Berkley Vanish leader.
He used two different soft plastics to catch his fish, including a Slider Grub in big bass colour and a goosenberry coloured Berkley Ripple Shad. They were both rigged on 1/6oz, size 1, Nitro jigheads. Plastic modification was a strong feature in Munro’s set-up with the Slider shortened extensively and the tail wrist of the Ripple Shad trimmed to give the tail more movement in the water. Dipping the tail of both plastics in chartreuse Spike It completed the package.
Claiming the non-boater title for 2012 was St Clair bass addict and BASS Electric organiser Luke Mullholland of Singleton. Putting together a 6/6, 5.50kg limit to secure the win Mullholland fished a jighead rigged soft plastic approach both days to catch his fish.
Fishing the Carrowbrook arm of the lake with Alan McNamara on day one Mullholland fished a combination of rocky edges, points and weed beds with a cut down muscadene coloured Slider Grub rigged on a 1/8oz Bassman jighead.
“We focused on the 25ft depth range, cast the plastic to the edge, let it sink then worked it back with a series of twitches and shakes,” said Mullholland.
The technique delivering him his first fish at 8am and his second about 15 minutes later.
Session two was a repeat performance with Mullholland once again twitching and shaking his plastics out from the edge.
It was only 30 minutes into the session when he got his limit; a bag that moved him from fourth to first place.
A successful day two was the key to winning but with a change in location from day one Luke wasn’t confident that he was going to get them like he did the day before.
Using his successful twitch and shake soft plastic approach Mullholland was soon rewarded picking up his first fish at 8.30am and his second at 9.30am. Weighing in the largest non-boater bag for the session Mulholland took his 680g lead and extended it into a 720g winning margin.
The tackle Mullholland used to secure the win included a Duffrod, Shimano Stradic CI4 2500 reel, spooled with 4lb Berkley Fireline and 4lb Sunline FC Rock leader.
After the Grand Final win Luke has rocketed up the rankings points and now sits in 19th – a vast improvement over his previous 49th.
The Smak Lures BASS Pro Grand Final draws the curtain on another BASS Pro season for angler and sponsors alike. BASS Pro season 2013 will kick off in February so stay tuned to www.australianbass.com.au later this year to check out the dates and venues for 2013.
Outfit 1: Samurai Reaction 002 rod, Shimano Twin Power 2500 reel, 6lb Unitika PE, 6lb Toray fluorocarbon leader.
Outfit 2: Berkley Drop Shot Tournament Pro rod, Megabass Luvito reel, 6lb Unitika PE, 6lb Toray fluorocarbon leader.
Lures: Yamba Prawn blade (custom colour), Slider Grub (watermelon/red-copper) cut-down to the D, rigged on 1/6, 1/4, 3/8oz hand painted Gamakatsu Flathead jigheads, rigged with a size 8 stinger hook and tail dipped in chartreuse Spike It.
Mark Lennox fished the less pressured Carrowbrook arm so his fish would sustain angling pressure across three sessions. He selected a more snag-proof jighead that he could bump over structure and made a bigger splash when it hit the water.
|1||Mark LENNOX||6/6||5.93||Trip to the USA|
|2||Callum MUNRO||6/6||5.53||Engel Fridge/freezer|
|3||Alan MCNAMARA||6/6||5.41||Uglyfish Eyewear|
|4||Daniel CLANCY||5/6||5.31||Uglyfish Eyewear|
|5||Peter PHELPS||6/6||5.12||Uglyfish Eyewear|
|1||Luke MULHOLLAND||6/6||5.50||Hobie Pro Angler kayak|
|2||Shaun FALKENHAGEN||6/6||4.78||Engel Fridge/freezer|
|3||Dylan MOTT||4/6||3.70||Duffrods Jigstik rod|
|4||Greg MITCHELL||4/6||3.33||Uglyfish Eyewear|
|5||Ray HOLMES||5/6||3.16||Uglyfish Eyewear|