Matt Johnson has won his second BASS Pro event on the bass-filled waters of the South Burnett’s Lake Boondooma. Storming home with the big bag of the DEPS Boondooma BASS Pro on Sunday’s final session, Johnson was the best on the lake by a margin of 2.5kg over second place Steve ‘Killer’ Kanowski and Peter Phelps in third.
Johnson led the tournament wire-to-wire, never faltering after his Saturday morning session weight of 4.2kg sat him atop the leader board. His worst session, coming on Saturday afternoon, was still second best of the session and miles apart from the rest of the field. Johnson relied primarily on one spot, which consisted of a deep rock wall with standing timber located up the Boyne River Arm of Boondooma.
Session one saw Johnson head straight for the productive area where on Friday’s pre-fish day he had caught two fish in two casts making it a likely hotspot for the tournament. On the second cast of the day, Johnson’s co-angler partner Troy Lowe scored the event’s Big Bass prize with a 1.57kg kicker. That set the tone for Johnson and Lowe’s day, as the pair worked through the area to put together a solid limit with time to spare.
With time in the bank, Johnson decided to head to the area of Boondooma known as ‘the Junction’ and scored a nice upgrade. “I was pretty happy after that upgrade and knew we would be competitive with what we had, so I decided to weigh-in as soon as the scales opened,” explained Johnson.
Saturday’s afternoon session is always the toughest, and this proved true again with the majority of the field failing to score a keeper bass throughout the minimum four hours fishing time. For Johnson, he returned to the Junction where the Boyne and Stewart River arms of Boondooma meet, where he targeted fish holding tight to the bottom. “I caught one solid fish off the Junction before the fish went quiet. From there I headed back to my honey hole up the Boyne Arm.”
His hotspot failed to produce, only landing one barely legal keeper off the deep rockwall for two hours of fishing. It was time now for Johnson to spot hop, targeting isolated rock piles he could see with his sounder. “I think the bass were keying in on shrimp and crayfish this weekend, and I believe that the shrimps and crays like to live around the rocks when a cold front hits, because they hold heat.”
Johnson used this technique to put another keeper in the well and decided to save his go-to bank for Sunday morning’s vital final session.
Heading back to the rock wall inside the Boyne River Arm, Johnson and his Sunday co-angler Jason Martin decided they would live and die by the one spot, choosing to go back and forth along the one productive bank until their time ran out. The choice turned out to be the right one, as the pair put together the Duffrods Big Bag of the event, weighing an impressive 5.28kg bag to lift Jason to fifth overall in the co-angler section and raise Johnson’s winning margin to an impressive 2.5kg.
His go-to technique for the whole weekend revolved around one lure, a 1/4oz NextGen metal blade in two different colours retro-fitted with assist style stinger hooks to get the best hook-up on the timid bites. “Those two baits were key, just hopping them around the rocks and trees. The fish were holding super tight to the bottom all weekend, so a blade buzzing up and down in front of them is eventually going to get one to react.
“The stinger hooks were key this weekend. I did try a treble hook, but I didn’t feel confident in sticking those bites. I didn’t really feel a typical bass bite all weekend; A lot of the hook-ups would come as I went to hop my blade again and I’d have lost contact, meaning a fish had picked it up and swum off.”
Johnson delivered his winning baits on Barrabass custom rods, in-particular an XP902 and North Fork 402 fitted with 2000 sized spinning reels, 10lb braid and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. “I’ve helped Bradley from Barrabass make what I believe to be the best rods money can buy for the sort of fishing I do. These two models are what we came up with specifically for the technique of hopping blades and mask vibes. You really can’t beat them!”
Johnson took home over $2000 in cash as well as the Duffrods Big Bag award for his stellar Sunday morning sack.
For the second time on the BassCat BASS Pro Series for 2017, Steve Kanowski came second. Following up from his runner-up finish in the Lews Cania Dam BASS Pro, Kanowski again proved why he’s one of the best in the business by backing it up on a tough DEPS Boondooma BASS Pro. He weighed the only complete 12/12 tournament limit of the entire field.
Having marked fish deeper than most of his fellow anglers during Friday’s pre-fish round, Kanowski returned to these bass in 30ft of water on Saturday’s first session. Unfortunately, the congregations of fish he’d found just one day before had scattered, leaving him to scramble for only one small keeper off his primary area.
“The bass were moving around so much this weekend, it was hard to stay on top of them,” commented Kanowski. From there, Kanowski moved much shallower to another patch of fish he’d located in 15ft of water. Again, like his primary area, the bass had scattered.
“They were still there, just not schooled up tight like the day before. I knew they’d be in the area, so I just expanded a little and knuckled down.”
Kanowski persevered and managed three more keepers to fill out his limit.
Heading back out for session two on Saturday afternoon Kanowski was in trouble with only one in the well and an hour to go until weigh-in. He pulled up on a small point in the ‘Narrows’ section of the main lake and within fifteen minutes was upgrading his catch. “That goes to prove you’re never out of it in tournament fishing, we were thinking it was all over, then just like that we’ve got a bag and we’re upgrading – that’s the magic of tournament fishing.”
Sunday’s final session played out in a very familiar pattern for Kanowski. After running all over the dam and hitting every spot from the day before, Kanowski and his co-angler Aimee Thompson had just one lonely bass in the livewell.
Praying for more of the same, they returned to the point that was so good to them on Saturday afternoon. After a slow start, Thompson snagged up behind the boat. When they went back to get it off, they found the fish and proceeded to catch no less than 14 scoreable bass in the next hour to fill out their limit and upgrade multiple times.
Like tournament victor Matt Johnson, Kanowski also relied on a blade to catch the entirety of his weight – an Ecogear ZX40 in the new #440 colour. Kanowski vertically jigged the blade on fish he could see on his sounders, dropping straight down to them once they appeared on the screen.
Kanowski returned from the QLD double-header road trip of the BassCat BASS Pro Series nearly $3000 richer thanks to back-to-back second place finishes. He now sets his sights on another Costa BASS Pro Angler of the Year award with three rounds to go.
Troy Lowe continued the tradition of success in a first ABT event. The rookie tournament angler blitzed the field by over a kilo to take victory in the DEPs Boondooma BASS Pro.
Fishing with Matt Johnson on Saturday and NSW up and comer Luke Draper on Sunday, Lowe was always going to be around the action, and it couldn’t have started any better.
“Saturday with Matt started in perfect fashion. I stuck the event big bass of 1.57kg on literally my second cast – in an ABT event, you couldn’t ask for a better start than that,” said Lowe.
Starting Saturday’s morning session on Johnson’s hotspot up the Boyne River Arm, Lowe wasn’t going to take any chances. “I stuck to the same techniques as what Matt had identified was working, so I tied on a NextGen 1/4oz blade and hopped it from the shallows in 3-6ft out to where the boat was holding in 15ft of water. Getting that big one second cast told me I was doing the right thing, so I stuck with that for most of the weekend.”
On Sunday with Luke Draper, Lowe and Draper again fished up the Boyne River Arm, targeting the rocky banks just like Johnson had in the previous sessions. The pair worked hard to put two keepers in the boat for a respectable 1.25kg limit. In the end, Lowe didn’t need the two extra bass on Sunday, but they provided plenty of breathing room for Sunday’s staged weigh-in on the foreshores of lake Boondooma Holiday Park.
Lowe has now qualified for the season ending BassCat BASS Pro Grand Final to be held on the Richmond River later in the year. Certainly there’s no better feeling than qualifying for the biggest bass tournament of the year on your first try!
Matt Johnson saved his best for last delivering a 5.2kg limit to the scales on the final day to claim the event win and the Duffrods Big Bag for the tournament.
Troy Lowe claimed the Big Bass Prize catching the $500 fish in session one on a black and purple vibe in the Boyne River Arm of the lake. – ABT
|Rod||Barrabass XP902 rod|
|Reel||2000 spin reels|
|Line||10lb braid and 10lb fluorocarbon|
|Lure||1/4oz NextGen metal blade retrofitted with assist-style stinger hooks|
|1||Matt Johnson||11/12||11.86||$2100 + Duffrods Big Bag|
|1||Troy Lowe||9/12||7.83||Westin Rod and Prize Pack + $500 Big Bass (1.57kg)|
|2||Dylan Byron||7/12||6.40||Bassman Prize Pack|
|3||Aimee Thompson||8/12||6.31||Prize Pack|
|4||Bert Lumley||9/12||6.21||Prize Pack|
|5||Jason Martin||5/12||5.98||Prize Pack|
|6||Matthew Domjahn||7/12||5.90||Prize Pack|
|7||Brett Hyde||6/12||4.91||Prize Pack|
|8||Bronsojn Tilley||6/12||4.88||Prize Pack|
|9||Keeghan Painter||5/12||4.86||Prize Pack|
|10||Paul Aldous||5/12||3.84||Prize Pack|