St Clair shines for BASS Megabucks
  |  First Published: December 2015

Lake St Clair produced the goods for anglers in the Edge Rods BASS Megabucks with all teams delivering fishing to the weighmaster’s scales each session.

Lake St Clair, one of the premier bass lakes of the state, fired for anglers. A series of recent water rises, perfect weed beds and active shallow dwelling bass combined to make it one of the standout bass bites of the 2015 ABT BASS season.

Despite an impressive effort from all the teams, one team dominated for top honours. Peter Phelps and Mitchell Cone from Team 13 Fishing/Searing Tackle stamped their authority on the event by claiming 1st place and Big Bass each session.

An notable and dominant display of local knowledge and the intricate nuances that are needed to garner the bigger bites in a tournament, Phelps and Cone used a multifaceted approach to catch their fish. Dialling in on where the bigger fish where and what they wanted early, then making adjustments as required to stay on the winning bite.

Session 1
1st place
Team 13 Fishing/Searing Tackle

Phelps and Cone started their tournament in the main basin but it didn’t take long for the pair to quickly make their first change for the tournament.

“The water was simply too clear in the main basin so we stowed our rods on the deck, started up the motor and headed up the Carrowbrook arm to find water that wasn’t as clear,” said Phelps.

The move paid off with the pair filling their limit in 40 minutes throwing a combination of a Pontoon 21 Cablista jerkbait, Fish Arrow J Shad soft plastic and Bassman Shorty spinnerbait.

Fishing water no deeper than 5’ and paralleling their way long the bank, the pair fished the gutter that ran between the water’s edge and the inner edge of the weed bed.

Focusing on here as the prime area to target, the pair alternated between lures with Phelps throwing the Bassman Shorty and Cone, swapping between the jerkbait and the soft plastic.

“The bigger fish were definitely shallow and close to the edge. If we fished wider and the outer edge of the weed bed we could only catch small fish,” said Phelps.

The kicker fish in their bag, and the session’s Big Bass, was a 1.27kg fish caught of a tree on a twitched and paused Pontoon 21 Cablista.

Weighing in a 3.98kg limit Phelps and Cone secured a 410g win for the session and held momentum heading into session two.

2nd place
Team Paul Hopley Autos

For Simon Marchant and Wayne Beazley, session one at the Edge Rods BASS Megabucks was the start of a consistent and ultimately successfully event with the pair cashing in at each session.

“Wayne and I were simply looking forward to getting out on the water, having some fun, and getting to spend some time together,” said Marchant.

Upbeat and relaxed about what was in store, the pair started session one fishing the stained upper reaches of the Falbrook arm throwing top water lures.

“We threw and shook Tiemco Soft Shell Cicadas and OSP iWavers along the edges for a while then swapped to a Slider and fished it tight to the weed,” said Marchant.

Using a combination of cut down muscadine and avocado glitter coloured Sliders rigged on 1/6oz, size 2, Diztek (Marchant) and Nitro (Beazley) jigheads the presentation for the plastic involved casting it tight to the weed edge then hopping and shaking it back out.

The approach paid off with the pair weighing in a 3.57kg limit to claim the $500 2nd place cheque for the event.

3rd place
Team TT Lures/Hobie Fishing

Kris Hickson and Owen McPaul from Team TT Lures/Hobie Fishing picked up the last cheque in session one with the pair starting out in the Carrowbrook arm of the lake before moving to the main basin.

Spot hopping their way around the basin the pair focused on the gaps, allies, holes and edges of the weed to catch their fish. Throwing a TT Lures Jig Spinner the pair fitted to it a 1/4oz, size 1/0 TT Lures Headlockz jighead rigged with a 2 1/2" smoke hollowgram coloured Z-Man Slim SwimZ softplastic.

The tackle Hickson used to present his TT/Z-Man setup included a Daiwa Generation Black Trauma Centre rod, Daiwa Silver Wolf 2500 reel, 8lb PE, and 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

Catching 15 fish for the session the pair weighed in a 3.03kg limit to win themselves an Edge Rod for their performance.

Session 2
1st place
Team 13 Fishing/Searing Tackle

Rather than returning to the scene of their successful opening session, Phelps and Cone headed to Falbrook arm in session two.

“We wanted to rest the Carrowbrook and we were confident that the Fallbrook would hold fish just like our session one area,” said Phelps.

The validity of the pair’s thinking was quickly confirmed and in 30 minutes they had their limit filled.

Using the same approach and techniques as in session one, the pair once again threw a combination of a jerkbaits and soft plastics and spinnerbaits. While Cone threw the jerkbait and plastic, Phelps focused his efforts on the spinnerbait, but in contrast to session one when he threw a Bassman Shorty, in session two he threw a super-compact customised 1/4oz Bassman.

The retrieve for the jerkbait was a standard three twitch pause fished tight to and over the weed, the plastic was fished with a slow roll with a twitch every 3-5 turns of the reel, while the spinnerbait was given a slow roll with a small surge in the retrieve every 3-5 cranks of the handle.

Numerous upgrades followed throughout the session, their best going on to secure the Big Bass Prize for the session, and falling to a soft plastic in 4’ of water.

2nd place
Team Paul Hopley Autos

Marchant and Beazley were on the fish and on the money again in session two. The pair fished the main basin for the afternoon session targeting the weed beds and the clear area between the weed bed and the bank. The pair threw their cut down Sliders for a successful session.

Weighing in a 3.7kg limit for the session, Marchant and Beazley claimed second place by a mere 30g.

The tackle Marchant used to catch his fish was Samaki Zecton Phase 2 rod, 1000 Daiwa Luvias reel, 6lb Stren Microfuse mainline and 7lb Sunline FC Rock leader, while Beazley used a 6’8” Pflueger Patriarch rod, Patriarch 9530 reel, 6lb Berkley Fireline, 6lb Berkley Sensei leader.

3rd place
Team Legend Boats/Hyper Marine

John Picton and David Lane had a red hot session two. The pair caught 35 fish for the session to finish the day with big smiles and a new Edge rod to their name for their 3rd place performance.

Fishing the Falbrook arm for the session, Picton and Lane threw a two-lure combination, soft plastics and spinnerbaits.

“We started with a soft plastics and picked up a fish in the first 10 minutes, but there was not much after that so we tried a spinnerbait and caught a fish almost immediately,” said Picton.

Listening to what the fish were telling them, the pair then stuck with spinnerbaits, throwing a combination of 1/2oz Bassman and Smak models. With the water dirty, the pair cracked a pattern for success, a key element that they needed in their lure selection to get the bites.

“You needed to have red in your spinnerbait skirt. We used more natural colours to begin with but they worked with limited success. The best colour was a skirt with 8-10 strands of red in it,” said Picton.

The retrieve for their spinnerbait involved casting it to the edge, sinking it to the bottom, then giving it five cranks of the reel handle, sinking it again, then giving it another five cranks.

“A lot of the hits came as the lure was sinking back down,” said Piction.

Session 3
1st place
Team 13 Fishing/Searing Tackle

After resting their session one location (Carrowbrook) for session two Phelps and Cone returned to the Carrowbrook arm for the third and final session.

“It was just too good not to go back and see whether we could go back and get them again,” said Phelps.

Rather than fish the same banks again, the pair fished a long way up the creek deciding to fish water that rarely gets fished and water that they believe would hold fish due to the prevailing water level and bite pattern.

The approach paid off with the pair once again getting stuck into plenty of fish with their shallow water three-lure approach.

Catching their heaviest limit for the tournament, Phelps and Cone in the end secured a comfortable win for the session, and just like they had in the first two session picked the Big Bass prize for session three. Incidentally, the fish was caught off the same tree as their session one big bass.

Phelps’ tackle included a 13 Fishing 71LM Envy Black spin rod, 6lb PE Delux Amigo/8lb Gamma line for his soft plastic and jerkbaits, and 13 Fishing 71 medium Envy Black baitcast rod, 13 Fishing Concept C reel spooled with 16lb Delux Amigo PE braid and 12 lb Gamma leader for his spinnerbaits.

While Cone used a Millerods Finesse Freak rod matched with 5lb Power Pro Bite Motion mainline and 8lb Gamma fluoro leader for his jerkbaits and soft plastic.

2nd place
Team Paul Hopley Autos

Marchant and Beazley started the thrid and final session in the Falbrook arm of the lake.

“The first half of the session was essentially a repeat of session one with fish coming from the weed edges on plastics and the occasional top water,” said Marchant.

Later in the session they moved to the main basin and picked up where they left off in session two throwing and working soft plastics along the weed beds and the weedless gutter between the weed bed and the bank.

With a double figure catch card for the session the pair weighed in a 3.96kg for the session to claim another podium finish and pick up their third cheque for the tournament.

Post event Marchant was acknowledging of his sponsors, both for the event and the year.

“I would like to thank Paul Hopley Autos from Lake Macquarie for sponsoring us. It's great to have a sponsor outside the fishing industry I hope this continues to help grow the sport. Also Darren Dizzy Borg from Diztek lures for his support this year,” said Marchant.

3rd place
Team Costa/Smak

Saving their best until last, Craig Simmons and Steve Kanowski hit main basin points in the final session to catch their fish.

Fishing spinnerbaits (OSP and Smak) early the pair focused on the outside of the weed edge and worked their spinnerbaits with a slow roll, interspersed with the occasion jerk. The approach delivered them their limit by 8.30am.

“The cloud came in around 9am so we decided to give top water a run,” said Simmons.

Throwing a combination of Imakatsu Dilema Poppers and Tiemco Soft Shell Cicadas, the Simmons and Kanowski caught multiple fish, with the bite lasting up until 10 minutes before the 11.30am end of the session.

Fishing the dirty water gutter located between the inner weed edge and the water’s edge, the pair found the fish active and numerous, much to both Simmons and Kanowski’s surprise.

“This was something that neither of us has seen much before, bass hitting surface lures on a muddied edge,” said Simmons.

The dirty water approach delivered them a 3.66kg limit for the session and saw them secure the final prize for the session and the tournament.

Overall Champion Team

It was a dominant performance from Phelps and Cone with the formidable pair claiming a perfect score, top honours and Big Bass each session, to stamp their name on the overall winners’ trophy. Compiling a 12/12, 12.78kg limit for the tournament, Phelps and Cone attributed much of their success to many years of experience on the lake, particularly in conditions like those in the tournament.

“St Clair can be a challenging place when the water is clear and has risen. But it suits our preferred style of fishing which is hitting the shallow edge,” said Phelps.

For their perfect performance Phelps and Cone cashed in to the tune of $3,000.

ABT would like to thank all competitors and event sponsor Edge Rods for once again making the event a huge success and one of highlight bass events of the tournament calendar.


PlaceTeamAngler 1Angler 2FishWeightPayout
113 Fishing/Searing TacklePeter PhelpsMitchell Cone12/1212.78$3,000
2Paul Hopley AutosSimon MarchantWayne Beazley12/1211.23$1,500
3Legend Boats/Hyper MarineDavid LaneJohn Picton12/129.46Edge Rods
4TT Lures/Hobie FishingKristoffer HicksonOwen Mcpaul12/129.27Edge Rods
5Team DuffrodsGreg BeattieTroy Danes12/129.26
6Ilona Fine CandlesKaren FontaineDeborah Kowalczyk12/129.23
7Costa/SmakCraig SimmonsStephen Kanowski12/128.76Edge Rods
8Fillet And ReleaseTony ThorleyPaul Gillespie12/128.52
9Bass N Bream TackleMark FergusonLuke Mulholland12/127.79
10Duffrods/TorayMark LennoxMichael Thompson12/127.47
11Tackle World ToowoombaWayne GordonJustin Scott11/127.44
12Team TennesseeJohn BriderMark Lawson9/126.72
13Grumpy Old MenPeter LeggettPeter Morgan8/124.92
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