ABT stalwart Mark Lennox has claimed his second victory at Lake St Clair, taking out the Haswing Lake St Clair BASS Pro event, the second stop on the BassCat BASS Pro Series 2016.
Lennox stormed home from fourth position on day two to dethrone overnight leader Tom Slater with an astonishing 4/4 limit that weighed in at 3.71kg, besting the next heaviest bag by almost half a kilo.
For Lennox, the victory is a special one. His father-in-law owned the land used to build Lake St Clair and he has family who live on the dam.
Lennox is no stranger to success, having won the ABT BASS Pro Grand Final in 2012 on St Clair. He’s also won ABT BREAM qualifiers, and he’s featured on the Australian Fishing Championships.
Lennox started the tournament fishing the Carrowbrook Arm of the dam. He threw a dressed Yamba Prawn blade to the weed edges to catch his early limits. From there, Mark and his non-boater changed tactics and opted for a Berkley Gulp Minnow Grub slow rolled as the sun rose higher.
It turned out to be the perfect one-two punch for Lennox, who delivered a full 12/12 limit for the tournament and the Duffrods Big Bag for his final day heroics.
“I started with the dressed blade because you tend to catch a lot of fish on them at this time of year,” said Lennox. “You don’t necessarily get the bigger bites, but it was a good option to fill the bag before looking for upgrades.”
Lennox chose to use a black coloured fluted Indiana blade on his beetle spin arm, and was lucky not to lose it as he only had one!
Once the sun rose high and the clear waters of St Clair became apparent, Lennox employed the popular tactic of slow-rolling a grub style plastic on the outside of the weed.
“The weed stops growing once you get to around 25ft of water,” Lennox said. “I would find the outside edge and just work my way around, casting the grub out, allowing it to sink and then slowly winding it back through the fish.”
Most of the fish Lennox targeted were holding mid-water, around 15-20ft down. The slow wind off the bottom with a 1/4oz jighead meant the plastic would hang in the strike zone for the longest period of time possible. Lennox also rigged his grubs with a stinger hook, a modification that many NSW BASSers swear by for this time of year.
“The fish were biting timidly, which is not too uncommon for a deep summer bite, so the stinger hooks worked well to convert those timid bites to solid hook-ups.”
Mark relied on a Duffrods Kustom TBS72114 matched with a Megabass Luvito 256 for his plastics outfit. The connection to his plastic was 6lb Unitika PE with an 8lb Toray LEX fluorocarbon leader. For the dressed blade, Lennox upped the class of his rod, opting for a Duffrods Kustom X-851SP, he upped his braid to 8lb Unitika to match and continued with the 8lb Toray LEX leader.
With the win, Lennox secures his place in this year’s BassCat BASS Pro Grand Final for his shot at winning the big-show twice.
NSW’s Brian Everingham held second place over the two days, weighing some very consistent bags to finish the tournament with a 9.05kg 12/12 limit. Coming off the back of a solid final day bag in the opening round of the NSW BASS Pro double-header, Everingham had all the momentum he needed to carry him to a podium finish at the Haswing Lake St Clair BASS Pro.
Everingham focused in on one particular pattern more so than a particular spot or area to produce his bag weight.
“There were thousands of fish throughout the dam holding in 15-25ft,” said Everingham. He chose to target the fish with a Berkley Gulp Minnow Grub, which he pitched 20ft ahead of the boat. This technique ensured Everingham always moved slowly along the bank, and targeted new fish to maximise his chances of finding the active fish that would follow and bite his presentation. Once his bait sank to the bottom, he began a slow retrieve to allow the lure to pendulum from the bottom ahead of his boat, to underneath his trolling motor. Covering water was the name of the game for Everingham, who left his trolling motor on low and mooched along the bank with every pitch.
“Paralleling the bank in around 30ft of water was the key for me this weekend, I was really stoked to work out the pattern on the pre-fish day, and execute my plan into a second place finish.”
Everingham chose to use an Austackle Featherlight 1-3kg rod, paired with the matching Austackle Verto 2000 reel spooled with 4lb Krypto braid to convince the timid fish into biting.
ABT veteran, Tony Neal took the non-boater title at the Haswing Lake St Clair BASS Pro event, by accumulating a 12/12, 9.23kg limit to best his nearest competitor by 360g.
Fishing with Brian Everingham on day one, and local guru Peter Phelps on day two; Tony had the perfect pairing for success on Lake St Clair.
“Day one was all about the Berkley Gulp Minnow Grub, that’s how Brian was catching them and that’s what I relied on all day,” said Tony. “On day two, Peter had me fishing a little differently to the day before. But when I saw the opportunity, I picked up the grub and started catching fish again.”
Like Everingham, Tony targeted the fish that suspended off the bottom in 20-30ft of water. The slow roll presentation with the Gulp Grub proved to be the perfect method for getting the fussy fish to bite.
“On day one I casted wider than Brian, to present my lure to the odd fish hanging outside of the key depth zone. It was a team effort and we covered all options,” said Tony.
Tony opted to rig his Gulp Grub on a 1/4oz jighead, a staple piece of tackle for NSW impoundment bass. His rod and reel set up consisted of an Elite Industries rod by Gladiator Tackle, he preferred the 1-3kg model to feel the bites. Neal paired the rod with a Psyborg Reel, which he spooled with 4lb braid and 4lb leaders.
For his efforts, Tony will take home a huge assortment of product from Angler of the Year naming sponsor Bassman, making sure he is fully equipped for the remaining two regular season events and the Grand Final later in the year.
Austackle Big Bass
Non-boater Cameron Ley took home the $500 Austackle Big Bass Award, along with a respectable ninth place finish. Ley currently also holds down first position in the coveted non-boater Angler of the Year race after starting the year with a second place and ninth place finish.
Rod: Duffrods TBS72114
Reel: Megabass Luvito 256
Line: 6lb Unitika PE
Leader: 8lb Toray LEX Fluorocarbon Leader
Lure: Berkley Gulp Minnow Grub (Camo) Yamba Blade with Beetle Spin arm.
Lennox equipped his soft plastic with a trailing stinger hook, which was the difference in converting timid bites to solid hook-ups.
|1||Mark LENNOX||12/12||9.33||$1900 + Duff Rods Big Bag|
|1||Tony NEAL||12/12||9.23||Bassman Prize Pack|
|2||Simon JOHNSON||12/12||8.87||13 Prize Pack & OSP Rookie Award|
|3||Jason MARTIN||12/12||8.83||Spotters Prize Pack|
|4||Mark KING||12/12||8.56||Spotters Prize Pack|
|5||Aimee THOMPSON||11/12||7.97||Berkley Prize Pack|
|6||Luke DRAPER||12/12||7.94||Austackle Rod & Prize Pack|
|7||Rod THOMPSON||12/12||7.69||Prize Pack|
|8||Robert TILLEY||12/12||7.48||Prize Pack|
|9||Cameron LEY||12/12||7.42||Prize Pack + Austackle Big Bass ($500)|
|10||James REID||12/12||7.08||Prize Pack|