Melchior tops field at season opener
  |  First Published: May 2014

Adrian Melchior has begun his 2014 Toray BASS Pro season with a bang, taking out the season opening Toray BASS Pro Qualifier at Lake Glenbawn, NSW. Melchior (6/6, 7.38kg) was a picture of consistency on day one producing two identical limits of 2.25kg. Come day two Melchior would not be denied, as he produced the tournaments largest limit of 2.88kg to secure victory by 330g from his nearest competitor.

Melchior started each session in the main basin area, “I knew the basin held a lot of small fish and I wanted to ensure I would catch my bag early; we all need a confidence boost to encourage us to go hunting for the bigger fish”.

During the prefish Melchior had identified a key location at the back of the dam below the 8 knot zone. The location was a drop-off next to a tree in 48ft of water. Mechior explains the location,

“The area was flats adjacent to the small bay in the old creek bed. In the pre fish I had found good size fish located on a drop-off. On the sounder I could see that there were a lot of active fish in the mid water column pushing bait to the surface. At times I even saw the bait on the surface beside the boat.”

The majority of bass caught fell to the Atomic 2” Fat Grub in avocado glitter and avocado colour. Melchior altered the lure by cutting the tail wrist down so that on the retrieve the tail would wriggle at any speed. He also used liberal amounts of MegaStrike garlic scent on all lures. The lures were rigged on 1/8oz or 1/4oz Atomic Seeker jigheads with a 1/0 HW hook.

Melchior explains the technique and tackle used, “Each session required the retrieve speed of the lure to be adjusted and changed depending on what they seemed to be biting at or appeared to be chasing on the sounder. The technique was a vertical retrieve with the occasional small cast out and 45º retrieve back to the boat.

The key to feeling the subtle bites/strikes was the rod I used, the Majorcraft Crostage 1-5lb with a very light tip. This was my preferred rod over the weekend. This rod slowly loads up without the fish feeling the weight of the rod behind the hooks.”

Initially Melchior employed 6lb Unitika braid with a 4lb leader, but after losing a number of fish upgraded to an 8lb leader. From that point on no fish were lost.

Melchior acknowledges the role his sounders played in his victory, “I run a Lowrance HDS 9 and HDS 12 and know that this amazing technology is one of the keys to my consistent results.”

Finally, “I would like to thank my loyal sponsors Ballina Marineland, Frogleys Offshore, Lowrance, Bassman Spinnerbaits and Honda Marine who have supported me for a number of years. I couldn’t pursue my passion without their support.”

Fontaine Fights All The Way

Karen Fontaine (6/6, 7.05kg) stepped up from the non-boating category, and promptly showed her class, finishing in second place. This event was Fountain’s second attempt at boating in an ABT event and, with an impressive pedigree as a non-boater, she impeccably made the transition to the next level.

Fontaine had the opportunity to prefish and with a few helpful pointers worked out a plan of attack for the tournament,

“With a few good pointers from Dave Lane I headed off for my first prefish of the year. I dialled into the fish pretty quickly. It was a reasonably tough bite but the fish were consistent and solid. It was windy during the prefish, but the bite improved as the weather deteriorated. It was the perfect prefish for my first full year as a boater.

“My strategy for the tournament was to use my Lowrance Sounders to target groups of 2-6 fish. If my sounder filled up with bass I would electric away from them. The bigger schools could mesmerise you, following you up and down for very long periods of time without striking. The preferred depth was 43-55ft where the bite was more aggressive and patience, as always, was the key.”

In session one, Fontaine made her way to a bay in front of the 8 knots sign called the Shallows. This location held a lot of small school fish punctuated with good size bass. Luckily no other boats were in the area and Fontaine took advantage of the solitude,

“The fish were a bit slow to get going due to a blanket of fog holding over the area. I was fishing with Travis Dowling and it was his first ABT. I told him of my plan for the day and gave him a quick rundown on the type of bite it was. He was a quick learner, within 15 minutes he put the first bass in the boat. It was a super way to start the day. Then the fog started to lift and the bass were ready to play. The bite was the same as practice and I soon had my bag and couple of upgrades.

“It was a traditional deep bite. Drop the lure all the way to the bottom and super slow roll, no striking, and the fish would load up the rod at mid water or 15ft from the top.”

Fontaine fished strongly to finish session one in a competitive 11th place. Heading out for session two a change of tact was employed,

“I decided to try another bay around the trees behind Pelican Point. We got action and a bass out of there very early in the session. In reality I had no intention of going back to the Shallows. I was going to save this location for Sunday morning but the wind really started to blow, similar to the prefish, and the temptation was too great. It was the best decision I would make over the weekend. The windier it got the better it fished!

“After 15 minutes I caught the biggest bass of my afternoon followed by a couple more upgrades. I wanted to rest the area for Sunday so I moved down near the Narrows to chill out and throw a Bassman Spinnerbait around. In the end I weighed 2.56kg, and had achieved a big goal of catching a full limit each session.”

Fontaine made the following point regarding the bite in session two,

“The fish were peeling off and going back to the bottom at about 10-15ft so I would just roll up to 20ft and drop down again. If you were lucky enough to get action and miss on 1 or 2 drops in a row you had to make a decision and on the third roll you had to pull it away from him, burn it, flick your wrist or just pause. Just basically do something to make him react. If that didn’t work, electric motor well away and find fresh fish. When the wind got right up in the last couple of hours of the session it went back to a more traditional bite.”

Full of excitement and weary from little rest, Fontaine led out the field on Sunday in first position. The bite was super aggressive with most fish loading in the first or second turn of the handle. And Fontaine took immediate advantage, boating her first bass within 10 minutes and filling her limit by 7.15am. Taking a minute to enjoy the moment Fontaine reflected on what she had done and still needed to do,

“I sat down for 10 minutes and just enjoyed the moment…I had a full limit. Managing 4 upgrades and needing a fish better than 40cm I left the bay and spent 2 hours hunting, but unfortunately couldn’t find that elusive bass. Once back at the foreshore it was the most suspenseful, exciting weigh in I had ever experienced. I was delighted to be standing at the bump tubs amongst so many good anglers.

“It was great fun being on the stage with Adrian waiting for Simon to hit the magic button on the scales. I was thrilled for Adrian after watching him just miss out the year before and I was more than happy with my result.”

Fontaine's key lure was a Gulp Grub rigged on a 1/4oz Bassman jighead in watermelon colour. “This presentation complemented the Grub perfectly. These Bassman jigheads have the eyes and a touch of orange under the chin that the Glenbawn bass love. I used a stinger the whole time for those tail grabbers and a bit of extra security on the bigger bass,” said Fontaine.

Fontaine’s outfit consisted of a 6ft Ultra-Light Spin Stick built by David Williamson on a BarraBass blank teamed with a Shimano Stradic 1000 spin reel spooled with 8lb Varivas braid and 6lb Yamatoyo Rock Fish leader. On her equipment,

“The rod is shorter so you can have your rod tip closer to the waterline and finesse the bite, but they have plenty of backbone to muscle the biggest of bass. BarraBass now produce this rod and it’s aptly named the Glenbawn Special.

“A big thanks to all the other anglers for giving me plenty of room to fish. Thanks also to Bassman Spinnerbaits, Manning River Marine and Gregg Flett, who for many years has been generous enough to let me join him on pre fish and share his knowledge. My result is a culmination of what I have learnt from all the boaters I have been fortunate enough to fish with over my years fishing ABT events. Special thanks to the ABT organisers and all the ABT Sponsors that make these events possible.”

Macey Breaks The Pattern

Duane Macey (6/6, 5.92kg) took out the non-boater title at Lake Glenbawn.

Macey had the opportunity to prefish, but found the going tough heading into the event,

“I pre-fished on Friday with Dean Silvester, we went to a lot of spots throughout the dam. We were looking at spots that Dean had marked on the GPS over the last 12 months. We were looking in about 50ft of water and didn’t seem to be a lot of fish there. We moved to 80ft and found more active fish. I didn’t land a fish on the Friday at all, so my confidence was down”.

As things would happen, Macey drew Silvester as his day one boater at the briefing so knew what was ahead of him,

“We started the morning at Pelican Point in 80ft of water. I got one fish there on a Gulp Grub with a 1/4oz Impact Tackle jighead in smoked yellow core colour. The second fish followed on a Gulp Grub rigged on a black 1/4oz Impact Tackle jig head.”

Macey then moved across the dam to a line of trees, where fish were located in 50ft of water. Initially the fish were aggressive with many being lost and no bass being boated. A change of plan ensued, “We got smoked a lot and couldn’t land a fish. We moved away from the trees about 10ft and sat the Gulps on the bottom. With a few taps on the back of the rod and a very slow wind up I found the fish reacted better. I also removed any stinger hooks, which seemed to also help.”

When session two began Macey returned to the line of trees, and was rewarded with four fish in the first 30 minutes of the session. Black coloured Gulps proved to be the key lure for the session.

In the final session Macey was paired with Dave Young. Macey explains how the session unfolded,

“Dave and me went straight to the back of the dam where we were fishing in 50-60ft of water. I was using the same technique as Saturday. I never got a bite until two hours after we got there, but then managed to land three fish in the next hour. Black coloured Gulps were my key lure all weekend.”

Macey’s outfit consisted of a 4-8lb Hurricane Bass Rod by Black Hole NS with a 1000 size Pflueger Patriarch reel spooled with 8lb Berkley Nanofil line and 6lb Black Magic leader.

Macey dissects his tackle choices, “The Impact Tackle jighead colours I used were black, smoke yellow core, eel green and baby bass. To these I added Gulp Grubs in black, camo and pumpkinseed colour. I also used 2.5” Z-Man GrubZ in watermelon red colour.”

Big Bass

Simon Marchant caught the Big Bass for the event, securing the 1.45kg bass in session two. The $500 bass fell to a black 3” Gulp and came from 60ft of water at the back of the dam in the 8 knot zone.

OSP Photo Prize

James Reid secured the inaugural OSP photo prize by catching and photographing a 37.5cm bass. The bass came in the final session, falling to an OSP high pitcher spinnerbait. Reid secured a prize pack of lures courtesy of OSP and Imakatsu.

Winning Tackle

Rod: Majorcraft Crostage 1-5lb

Line: 6lb Unitika braid

Leader: 4lb/8lb leader

Winning Edge

Melchior highlights the functionality of his Lowrance HDS 9 and HDS 12 sounders as his winning edge, “I have come to believe that the real difference in a deep water bite is the quality of the electronics you’re using up front and trusting that what you see is going to produce results in the net.”

Boater Results

Place Angler FishWeightPayout

1 Adrian MELCHIOR 6/67.38 $3,650
2 Karen FONTAINE 6/67.05 $1,750
3 Peter PHELPS 6/66.67 $1,150
4 Mark LENNOX 6/66.34 $1,000
5 David LANE 6/66.33 $800
6 Dean SILVESTER 6/66.24 $800
7 Steven RICHARDS 6/65.99 $700
8 Paul GILLESPIE 5/65.83 $700
9 Craig SIMMONS 5/65.63 $400
10 Dane RADOSEVIC 6/65.57 $400

Non-Boater Results

Place Angler FishWeight Payout

1 Duane MACEY 6/65.92 Prize pack
2 Ben SCOTMAN 6/65.78 Prize pack
3 Ryan JONES 5/65.42 Prize pack
4 Ben LOCKWOOD 6/64.91 Prize pack
5 David WILLIAMSON 6/64.90 Prize pack
6 Mitchell CONE 4/64.53 Prize pack
7 Liam FITZPATRICK 5/64.50Prize pack
8 Mike CONNOLLY 4/64.23 Prize pack
9 Tom DEER 4/64.04 Prize pack
10 Allan PRICE 4/63.83 Prize pack
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