Kris Hickson has done it again! The man can do no wrong it seems as he convincingly slammed home the victory by almost 2kg from his nearest competitor. The Lews Reels presented round of the BassCat BASS Pro Series returned to Cania Dam near Monto in Queensland for the first time since the 2012 BASS Pro Grand Final.
With the dam at full capacity and the bass biting, almost fifty of the country’s keenest bass anglers descended on the picturesque lake to try and hoist the trophy.
In the end, it was Hickson who undoubtedly showed his class as one of the most adaptable and diverse anglers we’ve ever seen on the ABT circuit. Currently ranked number one in both the BREAM and BASS rankings, we see no sign of anyone catching the Taree-based angler anytime soon.
For Hickson, the triumph on Sunday afternoon didn’t come easily. His trip was hampered by more than one hiccup on the long drive from Taree to Cania. “All sorts of things went wrong on this trip, but in the end the fishing made it more than worthwhile and I’m thrilled to get another win under the belt,” said Hickson after Sunday’s final weigh-in.
To catch his better-than-a-kilo average 12/12 bag for 12.52kg, Hickson relied on a tried and true QLD bass fishing staple – a metal vibration blade. This particular model was a Yamba Prawn Blade in a golden olive colour, which he fished tight to the bottom in 6-10ft of water to draw bites of schooling fish.
“I found a spot in pre-fish about 3km up into the timbered section of the lake. It was a hump out away from the main cluster of trees in 6-10ft of water and the bass were schooling pretty thick on the spot. I wasn’t sure if they were going to last the three sessions, but as it turned out we had our four fish on Sunday morning within thirty minutes, before the bite started slowing down and the day got very tough after that.”
Preferring to fish away from the majority of the field, Hickson’s plan worked out perfectly. “I didn’t think that main school of fish that most of the field were working on would last and as it turned out the guys found it pretty tough on Sunday. I think the key to my consistency was finding something a little further away from everyone else. Steve Kanowski was my nearest competitor both on the scoreboard and on the lake, so clearly the move away from the bigger schools was important to finding those consistent bites.”
The key ingredient in the victorious pattern was using a blade much heavier than you’d typically use in such shallow water. “It was key to puff up the silt on the bottom when your lure touched down. I think that’s what was triggering the fish to bite and the blade touching down then vibrating out of a cloud of silt was just the surprise to get the bass to commit.”
As always, Hickson relied on quality Daiwa equipment to get the job done with his long time sponsor delivering the goods in the form of a Black Label V2 spinning rod and Luvias 2004 spinning reel. His line of choice was Daiwa’s Evo 8 braided line, which he topped with a rod-length of fluorocarbon leader. A key aspect of his winning bait was the use of free-swinging stinger hooks, which can be found on many blades from various manufacturers, or bought separately to retrofit onto standard lures.
“The assist hooks seem to hook up much better and more securely. Because they’re attached by cord, there is no leverage for the fish to work against like there is with trebles, so you very rarely drop a fish after hooking up initially.”
Hickson took home $2100 in prize money and extends his lead as the number one ranked BASS angler and also takes the lead in the Costa BASS Angler of the Year race after a successful start to the year at the Hawkesbury River event in April.
Steve ‘Killer’ Kanowski finished second last time the ABT BASS Pro Series hit the waters of Cania Dam and unfortunately for him, the feat was to be repeated as Kris Hickson bumped him to second with the last bag to hit the scales on Sunday.
Like Hickson, Kanowski travelled up into the timbered sections of Cania Dam to catch his 10.75kg 10/12 bag fishing a similar presentation to capture most of his bass over the weekend.
“We knew the morning bite up in the timber was going to be the time to get them. They seemed to shut down once the sun got high in the shallower water we were fishing. I think my first six casts had five fish on Saturday morning and we upgraded a few times to get to the tournament big bag of 5.15kg in the first session.”
After Saturday’s perfect start, Kanowski was begging for a few more spots to search for a full limit. “It was a tournament of what could have been for me. The average fish up here is a good size and had I caught a full limit I would have been right there with Kris at the end. As it was, I just didn’t have enough spots to catch fish and I wore out the one spot I had for all it was worth.”
Normally a man to stick with one lure or technique, Kanowski was uncharacteristically swapping and changing lures throughout every session. He alternated between a white coloured Smak lures Smako, a Smak Spoon, a Jackall Mask Vib and a Next Gen Blade, which put most of the fish into the boat over the weekend.
Kanowski is pro staff for event sponsor Lews and applauded their equipment on the stage. “I’ve been fishing for a very long time and I’ve been fortunate to try a lot of different outfits over the years. I’m in love with my Lews outfits and couldn’t recommend their products any higher!”
Warren Howe, a long time ABT non-boater, has notched his first victory at the Lews Cania Dam BASS Pro, winning convincingly with almost 1.5kg more than his nearest rival Peter Morgan.
Fishing with local angler Jordan Stoddart in session one, Howe and Stoddart began their morning on the popular ‘cattleyard’ flats and quickly put a fish in the livewell using an ice jig. From there, the pair switched paces to metal vibration blades in the form of Ecogear ZXs which they fished with small hops and slow rolling close to the bottom.
After returning to weigh in their first limit, the pair returned to attempt to fill another limit. This time, it was the reverse. With one fish falling to a blade for the middle part of the day, it wasn’t until the final hour when the pair sat above a school of fish and began to use ice jigs to fill their limit, upgrading numerous times.
Sunday’s session saw Howe paired with event champion Kris Hickson. They both sat in second position overnight, then thanks to a brilliant morning bite fishing blades up in the timbered section of Cania, both finished the event well in front of their nearest rival.
Howe now qualifies himself for the BassCat BASS Pro Grand Final, which will be contested in a river for the first time since the tour’s inception in 1999. The Richmond River will host the country’s best bass anglers and upon completion will crown a champion who will walk away with a BassCat boat/motor/trailer package worth more than $55,000.
For more information on the BassCat BASS Pro Series or any other of ABT’s tournament series, head to www.abt.org.au.
Jonathon Bale claimed the Big Bass Prize at the Cania event with the Queensland BASSer securing the $500 cash prize for his 1.82kg kicker fish caught on day two. – ABT
|Rod||Daiwa Black Label V2|
|Reel||Daiwa Luvias 2004|
|Line||Daiwa Evo 8 PE|
|Lure||Yamba Prawn Blade in a golden olive colour|
|2||Stephen Kanowski||10/12||10.75||$1300 + Duffrods Big Bag|
|8||Jonathan Bale||9/12||8.62||$500 Big Bass (1.82kg)|
|1||Warren Howe||12/12||11.96||Westin Rod and Prize Pack|
|2||Peter Morgan||12/12||10.5||Bassman Prize Pack|
|3||James Hickson||12/12||10.38||Prize Pack|
|4||Paul Aldous||9/12||10.16||Prize Pack|
|5||Jason Martin||9/12||9.75||Prize Pack|
|6||Dylan Byron||11/12||9.72||Prize Pack|
|7||Leone Walker||10/12||9.43||Prize Pack|
|8||Don Johnston||9/12||8.8||Prize Pack|
|9||Simon Johnson||10/12||8.58||Prize Pack|
|10||Tom Deer||9/12||8.36||Prize Pack|