Mark Pertot had a sensational season on Somerset fishing the Stessl Family Bass Challenge. His results were outstanding, earning him the overall Senior Champion prize: a $30,000 Stessl boat package.
We thought it would be interesting to hear how he went about fishing so consistently on a lake that many anglers find the most inconsistent fishery in southern Queensland.
The first round of a new series is always a bit nerve-wracking for competitors, but with some solid pre-fishing behind him, Mark Pertot attacked the Pelican Point area of the lake where he had found good showing of scattered bass in 20 feet of water. The key was the showing of bigger bass hugging the bottom.
Initially Mark tried a Slider rigged on a jighead, but this didn’t work at all. He then remembered reading an article on fishing spinnerbaits down deep on light line. He tried this with 10lb braid and a 1/2oz gold TT Vortex spoinnerbait and came up trumps first cast.
The trick was to cast a long way, take 10 slow winds and then let the spinnerbait fall back to the bottom. He was exclusively targeting the bigger bass showings and caught plenty of fish in the 47-51cm range. Throughout the tournament Mark returned to the Pelican Point area and concentrated on these fish to fill out a six-fish limit that had him finish first for the round.
After some heavy rain before the tournament that saw the lake rise, Mark said he made a bad decision: to fish around Beams Creek. He fished in 30 feet of water using Slider 3” Grub Smoke/Yellow Core on 1/2oz TT jighead for small fish.
Although he landed only five fish, Mark persisted with the plastic rig covering the bottom half of water column. The tactic was to take 15 winds of the reel off the bottom then drop the lure back. Most fish were 35-38cm and this forced Mark to also fish the flat out the front of Wyangi Creek where similar sized fish were encountered.
This was the tournament that Mark said was really rewarding, not just because he won but because a well-made plan came together and produced fish.
Fishing up in trees of Kilcoy Creek with gold 1/2oz TT Vortex spinnerbaits, Mark cast to grassy edges where the bass seemed to be holding. The area was hard to get to and only Mal Favager and Mark fished the area.
Most of the fish were in the 45cm range, but by Sunday the fish had moved into the creek channel and were holding in about 20 feet of water. This meant a slight change in tactic from casting to the bank, to casting onto the flat and slow rolling the spinnerbait over the creek drop-off and into the fish. This tactic worked as well, and allowed Mark to post a six-fish limit that won him Round 3.
The second day of Round 4 was called off due to storms and high winds. This meant anglers could weigh in only four fish, and Mark got only two on the Saturday.
There were two choices: to fish the edges and maybe catch a big fish, or to fish small schooled fish. Mark chose to fish the schooled fish with his favourite Slider rigged on a 1/2oz TT jighead.
He fished around Queen Street for scattered fish and then moved to Wyangi Creek. The fish averaged 38cm and Mark commented that it was Somereset at its worst, with tough, cold conditions making it unpleasant just to be on the water. Mark also thought that two fish from a possible four and a 14th place was a good result, all things considered.
Round 5 was when another plan came good.
After finding the fish on the pre-fish day, Mark decided to fish on the dam wall side of Spit using soft plastics. The fish were holding at a depth of 30 feet, regardless of the overall water depth. He found the bigger bass that were up to 50cm were sitting of water that was just 30 feet deep, whereas the smaller bass (fish between 38 and 40cm) were sitting 30 feet down in water that was 80 feet deep. The early bite before 9am was the key to the bigger fish and Mark moved around a bit after the shallow bite shut down.
Session 2 was tough so Mark moved from The Spit to The Hump and didn’t see too many fish, but slow rolled up some measurers in 25 feet of water using an ultra-slow wind and trying to keep the plastic right on the bottom.
The last session saw Mark move back to The Spit where heaps of boats were fishing in the deeper water. Mark moved into the shallower water and got a limit early, then upgraded with a 50.5cm bass that also won the Big Bass for the tournament.
Everyone suspected that the final result was going to be close, so Mark decided to fish in an area between Pelican Point and Red Rock. This was a very similar are to the first round and Mark had his confidence up with the light line spinnerbait technique that had been working all season for him.
Fishing in 20 feet of water, there was algae all over the bottom and the trick was to find areas where it was thinner or non-existent. Mark got two 40cm fish in the first session and went back to the same area for the second session.
In Session Two, mark landed a 47cm and 48cm bass on a 1/2oz gold TT Vortex spinnerbait and he was feeling nervous but confident of the win – if he could only land two fish in the final session.
Conditions were unsettled for Sunday but Mark fished a similar area but moved in shallower (16 foot) and got a 50cm fish on the gold TT Vortex. He landed his second fish (40cm) on spinnerbait too and finally felt confident he had done enough.
As it turned out, he had. Mark had won a tough, year-long series on Somerset.
Mark said he learnt some valuable lessons over the season. Here he explains his top three lessons:
1. I caught a lot of fish in the last hour. I watched Andrew Robinson at Boondooma in the ABT BASS Pro and learnt not to give up, and it was a hugely valuable lesson. Throughout the entire season, especially the last half of it, keeping on casting was the most important tactic. I kept willing the fish onto the lure every cast, right up to the end, and it really mattered with gaining an upgrade or a limit fish.
2. Pre-fishing was a huge benefit. Groundwork before a tournament is vital to know what you want to do for the two days of competition. In at least two of the rounds the pre-fishing exercise was hugely important to the win.
3. Try something new and stick with it. Casting spinnerbaits on light line was totally new to me and while I caught a fish first cast with the new technique, I had promised myself to really give it a crack before putting it away. Always give a new technique a fair go.
Mark appreciates his sponsors and credits his time to tournament fish and his success to his sponsors’ support. He would like to take the time to publicly thank Davo’s Bait and Tackle at Noosa where he works and is happy to help anyone with their bass fishing questions, TT Lures for supplying him with jigheads and the successful Vortex spinnerbaits, Slider plastics and the importers of G.Loomis rods.