Steve ‘Killer’ Kanowski claimed the biggest honour in Australian BASS fishing with the 50 year old tournament veteran shaking off the bridesmaid tag to secure victory in the 2014 Toray BASS Pro Grand Final on Queensland’s Lake Wivenhoe, 18-19 September.
Grabbing the lead on day one with a new ABT Big Bass bag of 5.91kg, Kanowski reined supreme in a talented field to claim his second win for the year and his maiden Grand Final win.
Find the needle in the haystack in the lead-up to the tournament, Kanowski identified an area in middle reaches of the lake as the area on fire and it was here that he headed to first up on the Saturday morning.
“It was a 30-35ft flat that was adjacent to the river channel on the eastern side of the lake and it was here that I had a collection of GPS marks and that I found solid showings of fish,” said Kanowski.
The first two marks produced nothing but the third was where everything fell into place.
“I spotted a fish on my sounder sitting mid water so I drop the lure down to it and the fish hit it. Initially I thought it’d missed the lure but when I went to wind up the slack he was already powering away with the ice jig,” said Kanowski.
A short fight followed and Kanowski soon had his first fish in the well. Where there’s one bass there’s often another so Kanowski once again fixed his eyes on his Lowrance and motored around in search of his second fish. He didn’t have to wait long and he soon found a cluster of fish sitting on the bottom.
“I free spooled the ice jig to the bottom and gave it a couple of sharp hops.”
A big fish bit and soon Kanowski had his second fish in the well.
“It was 9 o’clock and I had my two fish, and they were two good fish. Kris Hickson had a look at my limit and thought I had close to 6kg,” said Kanowski.
Resigned to the fact that he was unlikely to upgrade what he had Kanowski searched around for the rest of the session looking for fish for day two.
Weighing in a 5.91kg limit Kanowski claimed the day one lead with ease, and heading into day two was in a comfortably position to claim his maiden Grand Final win.
“I’ve picked up every place in a grand final except first, so I was keen to make sure I finally got the one [1st] that always alluded me,” said Kanowski.
Straight back to his flat at the start of day two Kanowski, like all in the anglers in the field, found that things had changed.
“I found a couple of fish on the sounder, but the majority of fish had simply vanished. The weather change had really shaken things up,” said Kanowski.
Searching hard and fishing hard Kanowski managed to catch two catfish, a yellowbelly, and most frustratingly lost four bass.
“I pulled the hooks on three fish, then had another one get away because my line broke mid fight,” said Kanowski.
With no bass in the well, and time to think on the 30 minute drive back to the finish line Kanowski had already resigned himself to another missed grand final victory.
“I was busy thinking about what prizes they had for 4th place, I really thought I’d let it slip it away,” said Kanowski.
With a 1.37kg lead heading into day two and shut down day final day bite plaguing the entire field, Kanowski’s lead in the end was too much for anyone to run down.
“Those two big fish I got on day one proved to be enough. To finally claim the major title that has always alluded me is incredibly satisfying,” said Kanowski.
Anstead’s Glynn Barkhuizen stood up to be counted in the 2014 Grand Final, with the 40 year old tournament angler weighing fish each session to come close to denying Kanowski his Grand Final win.
Fishing the 30ft depth zone in the middle reaches of the lake close to the old riverbed, Barkhuizen used a soft plastic approach to catch his fish.
“While there was fish holding in 30ft of water, it was the area with a layer of silt or vegetation on the bottom that held the best fish. You could pick this layer up on your sounder and the bigger fish would sit in it,” said Barkhuizen.
Using a watermelon/chatreuse tailed 3” Charlie Brewer Slider rigged on a 3/8oz PML jighead, Barkhuizen would drop his offering directly below the boat until it hit the bottom then start a slow roll back.
“You’d occasionally get a hit on the sink, but most of the bites came as you were rolling the plastic vertically back to the boat. If you got a bite you’d just keep winding and wait for the rod to load up,” said Barkhuizen.
To enhance his contact with the lure and for maximum feel, Barkhuizen used his newest go-to rod, a Samurai Reaction RE302-70.
“The grip on the new Samurai allows you to feel more, while its greater sensitivity means you feel every hit and bump,” said Glynn.
Glynn’s deepwater plastic approach paid dividends, delivering him his limit in the first hour, and a 3.28kg bag that had him sitting in 5th place at the end of day one.
Heading back to his day one hot spot on the second day, Barkhuizen struggled to find fish like he did the day before.
“I scanned all the locations that had fish on the first day but struggled to find any so I moved to an nearby slope that in the past has held fish,” said Glynn.
Once again looking for the fish holding layer on the bottom, Barkhuizen dropped his plastic to the bottom and on the retrieve came up tight on a fish. With one fish in the well, Glynn went searching for his second, and almost found it.
“I pulled the hooks on a fish not long after the first, but that was it,” said Glynn.
While he searched hard he was unable to catch his second and returned to the weigh-in with only one fish. One of only two boaters to weigh fish both days, Glynn’s 1.42kg bass was enough to elevate him to second place and a podium finish in the Toray BASS Pro Grand Final.
Shaun Falkenhagen claimed his biggest win to date in his bass career with the 30 year old Redland Bay angler compiling a 2/4, 5.69kg bag to secure the non boater title.
Fishing a flat with Warren Carter on day one, Falkenhagen threw a Maria Tailspinner working it with a lift and drop retrieve.
“The key was to lift the Maria a fair way of the bottom then let it sink back down on a semi slack line. Most of the hits came as the lure was sinking back down,” said Falkenhagen.
While Shaun’s retrieve was standard fair for tail spinning, his lure was less straight out of the packet.
“I swapped out the rear blade and upsized it to a mag willow, a cross between a Colorado and a willow, for more vibration,” said Shaun.
The approach delivered Falkenhagen his limit in the first 10 minutes of the fishing, 6 fish for the session, and 1 upgrade.
Weighing in 5.69kg limit for the session Shaun held down a 2kg lead heading into day two. A lead that would seem insurmountable, but on a lake that holds 4kg fish, no lead is ever assured on Wivenhoe.
Back to the productive day one flat and fishing with Dave Young, Falkenhagen once again threw his tail spinner in search of fish.
“Search as we did we couldn’t sound up any fish,” said Falkenhagen.
Despite covering lots of water and throwing a host of different lures Falkenhagen headed back to the finish line fishless and with no addition to his day one bag.
“I really thought I’d blown my chance, but as it turned out everyone struggled and I held onto the lead to claim the win,” said Falkenhagen.
The tackle he used to claim the win included a Barrabass XP841 rod, Daiwa 1000 Luvias, 8lb SAS braid, and 8lb Sunline FC Rock fluorocarbon leader.
The foundation of Kanowski’s win was thorough prefishing. The 2014 champ identified a reliable and productive area of the lake where he recorded multiple GPS that he called upon.
Rod: 6’4”, 2-4kg, Pflueger Trion (baitcaster), 6’8”, 2-5kg, Pflueger Patriach (spin)
Reel: Pflueger Patriach (baitcaster), Pflueger Arbor (spin)
Line: 12lb Berkley Fireline Exceed Crystal (baitcaster), 4lb Berkley Fireline Exceed Crystal (spin)
Leader: 8lb fluorocarbon (baitcaster and spin)
Lure: 11g Smak ice jig (colour purple nightmare), fitted with Decoy Stinger hooks (small)
|5||David LANE||2/4||3.88||Fish Arrow Prize|
|1||Shaun FALKENHAGEN||2/4||5.69||Prize Pack|
|2||Aaron WATSON||2/4||4.64||Prize Pack|
|3||Ben BIGGS||2/4||3.69||Prize Pack|
|4||Allan PRICE||2/4||3.29||Prize Pack|
|5||Samuel HOSKINS||2/4||3.11||Prize Pack|