JASON EHRLICH, the 27-year-old from Toowoomba who took out the 2003 Yamaha BASS Pro Grand Final, has won his second BASS Pro qualifying event at the Blue Fin Boondooma BASS Challenge. Bagging a six-fish limit of 6.23kg, Ehrlich finished 110g ahead of a fast-finishing Gavin Dunne (6/6, 6.12kg) and also bagged the Daiwa Big Bass cheque and the Yamaha BASS Bonus for being the highest placed boater with a Yamaha outboard.
Session One leader John Schofield finished third (6/6, 6.05kg), while Spiro Zantiotis (5/6, 5.40g) and last year’s event winner David Green (5/6, 5.35kg) rounded out the top five placings.
Ehrlich had a definite plan and stuck to it until near the end of the last session.
“Early in the sessions, I’d fish for suspending fish down near the dam wall,” Jason said. “These bass were sitting between 10ft and 15ft deep and on these fish I’d use a hard-bodied TN-60 Jackall lipless crankbait. I’d cast, count it down into the strike zone and then retrieve with a six-wind, six-second pause pattern. Mostly these bass were smaller and would belt the lure on the drop.”
Ehrlich fished these Jackalls on a Strudwick 6’6”, 4kg SicStik, Abu Cardinal 502 reel, 6lb Fireline and 15lb Vanish leader.
To upgrade to the bigger limits, which he knew he’d need to take home cash, Ehrlich would switch to shallower water and target bigger fish using a ‘soft’ Jackall that imitates a small bony bream. Ehrlich’s favourite spot for this was a gully running off the main dam just below the split of the Boyne and Stuart arms of the impoundment.
“We’d sit in the submerged creek channel – in maybe 20ft to 30ft of water – and cast towards the bank, landing the lure in around 10ft,” Jason explained. “Then I’d let the lure sink all the way to the bottom and wind it back for 10 turns of the handle. I’d then pause and let the lure sink for a few seconds on a tight line before freespooling the lure back down. Most of the hits came in the first few seconds of the drop, which is why I’d keep the reel in gear at that time.”
For the shallower water, Jason also downsized his gear – swapping to a 7’ Struddie SoftBodz rod, 501 Cardinal and 4lb Fireline.
Although over 360 bass were weighed in for the weekend, Jason commented that the ‘shut down’ conditions helped him.
“There are plenty of bigger bass in Boondooma, and the fact I latched onto more than most other anglers helped me out a lot,” Jason said. “If all of the big bass decided to feed, it would have been more of a lucky-dip.”
Gavin Dunne weighed his biggest bag in the final session, taking his final limit in three casts on a rockpile on Ehrlich’s ‘upgrade’ flat. Fishing deep-fly techniques, Dunne commented that both big fish inhaled the fly just after it bumped over the rough ground.
Ironically, Ehrlich’s final fish was landed on fly after he watched Dunne’s successful technique.
“I went around the corner where I knew there were more big bass hugging the bottom and pulled my final upgrade [on fly] there,” Ehrlich said. “Without that fish, I wouldn’t have finished first!”
Adding to Jason’s $2500 was the $500 Daiwa Big Bass – a 1.73kg fish he landed in the second session, making the weekend very profitable.
The next event in the Yamaha BASS Pro series will be held at Somerset Dam in late June. Call Simon Goldsmith on (07) 3268 3992 b/h for further details. - ABT
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1. Gavin Dunne with his final session limit that propelled him up the leader board to second.
2. Jason Ehrlich not only won the tournament convincingly, taking home a $2500 cheque, he also won the Daiwa Big Bass award and added $500 to his kitty.