ON MY way between The Clyde River BREAM comp and the Glenbawn BASS tournament I visited Steve and Cindy Ross of Black Diamond Rods. Their rod production facility near Woolongong is very organized and professional, which is what you’d expect given the finish on their rods. I got to have a play with some of their new prototype rods as well as some of their southern market rods, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Cindy also revealed the name of their rod blank manufacturer in the states, Rainshadow, which is major force in the production of blanks worldwide. Black Diamond rods in the future will have Rainshadow as part of the logo, so look out for them.
As we pulled up at our lodge, looking at the view we’d have over the next four mornings, big Kev announced: “I’m excited!”
It’s an awesome looking body of water, mainly due to the recent good rain, and the water was still clean and clear. We had booked a lodge through the State Park four months ago and we were lucky we got in early. The spacious lodges supplied everything except for sheets, all for $95 a night. At the customary pre pre-fish social drink Jasyn deForrest-Haddleton kept his good form up with some heavy partying while playing an American bass fishing game on the Playstation II. One late starter left his fishing partner waiting at the boat ramp the next morning for hours while he slept off a big night.
Earlier this year I took QFM writer Jason Ehrlich jack fishing in Bundaberg, and he returned the favour by taking me on a guided tour of Lake Glenbawn – a waterway I’d never fished before. On the morning of the pre-fish the wind was up a little, but in Jason’s boat I hardly noticed.
We first concentrated on spinnerbaiting around the edges and bays of the lake. Jason used an AusSpin spinnerbait and I tied on a Fina. I got plenty of rattles and hits but it was Jason who caught them. They were relatively small fish for this dam, but still – a fish is a fish.
When I changed over to an AusSpin I started connecting to a few. We were in a small bay around noon when, as I pulled my spinnerbait out of a mess of trees, I looked down to see a large cod follow my offering all the way back to the boat… only to have a swipe and disappear.
Jason decided to look for schooled fish in the deeper water, in the hope of locating larger fish – which mean more points in a tournament. We motored to the small bay next to the dam wall and instantly found fish schooled in around 55 feet of water. We both rigged up with Sliders, Jason putting on a smoke colour and me selecting the green with a black core. I rigged mine on a 3/8oz Nitro jighead and Jason used a 1/4oz head. We both dipped them in Spike-it scent and then dropped them into the school.
The reaction was instant, and Jason and I started boating fish ranging from 800g to 1kg. We moved off, knowing where that school was and the size of fish in it – valuable knowledge in a tournament.
We looked further down the bank and found some more schooled fish sitting in 80 to 100 feet of water, holding at around 50 feet amongst some bait schools. Jason is an expert at targeting suspended fish, and showed me how he does it.
As we sat on top of the fish they started to concentrate in our sounder beam and rose closer to the surface. Jason started stripping the exact amount of line of his reel to where the fish were, doing it a foot at a time. He then started slow rolling (a slow, gentle retrieve) through the fish, and whenever he felt a tap he quickly opened the bail arm and dropped back 6-8 inches of line. He then resumed the rolling. The result was mayhem! He was on, then I was on, and they were very good fish. After a quick photo and a lesson on air bladder puncturing we released the near-50cm bass. A great buzz!
The school just got thicker under the boat and Jason and I caught a couple more big bass. Then, with me protesting (and still casting), Jason headed for home. On the way back to the ramp I decided that even if I didn’t do well at the tournament, I had learned heaps and had a great day.
Friday night’s briefing the usual well-organized affair, with the tournament being declared the biggest attended BASS event ever. 2003 is going to be a very big year!
I drew Kerry Simms as my fishing partner for the Saturday session, and we went outside and organized our morning meeting time and place. After returning to the lodge and re-tying all my leaders (something I now do as a rule thanks to Trent Butler and Tim Morgan) it was time for bed.
It’s always exciting getting ready for the start; there are boats everywhere, you’re wishing good luck to the other guys and still making sure you’re confident with your plan of attack. When your boat number is called (they’re allocated to the boaters on briefing night) you pass the official slowly with your life vests on and your lanyard attached with your live well open. The official then gives you a key tag with that number on it, which you have to place on the hanging board before the end of the session. It’s all pretty easy… usually. One very keen guy (who I’ll call ‘Duncan McSplash’, after the key tag bounced off the live well and landed in the drink, decided at 6:30am to jump in after it. He managed to get back in the boat OK and did save the key tag. What a great team player!
I got away mid-field, as my number was 40, and wasn’t surprised to see about nine boats lined up where we caught the big ones the day before. I stopped, and on my first drop my Slider was eaten. I was stoked until I felt the tell-tale weight of a sluggish yellowbelly. We persisted for a while but then, as I saw the fish weren’t as concentrated as the day before, I moved over to the small bay.
We saw plenty of fish on my Legend 3005 fishfinder, and started targeting them with the slow rolling Sliders. Kerry was very good at this and we started to have a ball. We landed quite a few fish around the kilo mark, then moved around a little and started to pick up a couple of better ones. Both Kerry and I had one good fish and one around 1kg, so we were relatively happy until my good fish started looking crook. I had used the needle on this fish, as it came out of quite deep water, but through inexperience I guess didn’t do it properly. In the last half hour I tried desperately to put another fish in the boat and let the other go, but to no avail. In the end Kerry weighed his two fish but mine was too far gone. A lesson painfully learned!
After a quick lunch at the lodge (and a fun time playing with my two kids) I headed for the water. Kerry was sympathetic with my situation and was very encouraging.
Many anglers had spent the first session spinnerbaiting with mixed results, so the deep water bass schools were even more crowded than the first session. We stuck with the same pattern as the first session until the bass moved from that bay. We moved back over to where the crowd was and watched the sounder and kept rolling Sliders through the schools of bass. Trent Butler was right next to me and catching a few, so it was a friendly fun time until my MinnKota stopped responding. I checked everything and decided it was a crook cell in the battery. My spare battery was back at the lodge, so we deployed the wind anchor (a four-litre bucket on a rope) and it worked well enough for both of us to put a fish each in the well at that spot.
Another move saw us out of the breeze, a bit near one of the spots we caught bass on the pre-fish. This area also had a few boats on it. As we stopped Jason Ehrlich quickly opened the bail arm of his reel and then closed it, and he was on, glancing over to me and giving me a grin. I repeated his technique after getting a bump and I was on too – a nice kilo-plus fish. I’d just had a good lesson on deflating fish from the two Steves (Morgan and Bain), and it worked well. Kerry then put his second fish in the well, ending a successful session and a good day.
On the way back in Kerry mentioned he was a bit nervous about who he would get as a boater for the next day. He needn’t have worried – he drew Tim Morgan!
My new fishing partner for the day was Dale Gilliver from Burleigh Heads, an apprentice mechanic with Wild Marine. Dale had travelled down to the comp with his mate Jesse Lomas.
My new partner and I discussed tactics for the session, and he mentioned that his boater from the previous day (Barry Oxford) had found some nice fish near boat harbour point, and was there alone for the whole session. Barry told Dale he was welcome to bring his next day’s boater over, and this is part of the great sportsmanship shown by tournament anglers. In some cases when a comp is very tight you may not get the invite, and it’s considered bad form to turn up in a spot the next day – and really bad form if you tell all your mates.
We decided to give Barry’s spot a try as we left as boat number 30 (my new position as a boater on the ladder) and there were plenty of boats in front of me. As we approached Barry he was already there and into a nice fish. Dale got into it straight away, using the same colour Slider as Jason did in the pre-fish, and put a kilo fish in the well.
The fishfinder showed a school of better fish sitting halfway down the back of a tree in around 60 feet of water, so I positioned the boat over the school and fed the line out, counting the seconds as it sank. I stopped when I thought I was in the zone, and then rolled the Slider slowly through the school. The hit was hard, and the fish made a dive for the tree. I had my Black Diamond Bream Reaper fully loaded and still had to put extra hurt on the spool to stop this big fish’s lunges for the timber. Luckily I managed to stop it, and as I got it clear of the side of the tree it made another desperate dive for the submerged treetops. It was a good fish on 6lb Fireline.
After putting the net under it Dale helped me deflate and put the fish in the well. The bass weighed 4.8lbs on dales and I was stoked. Dale put his second fish in the well and the morning was looking good.
I repositioned the boat with the Minn-Kota and put my plastic back amongst the fish. The next fish did the same thing and once again I had to give everything to get it out. This fish went 4lbs and it wasn’t long before Dale hooked a big guy. Unfortunately, it well and truly did him.
I managed another 4lb fish when my biggest fish started to look a bit stressed. Having learnt my lesson the day before I asked Dale if he was happy with his bag and he was, so we headed in. Steve Booth and Steve Morgan greeted us back in the weigh-in area, our fish were weighed in, my bag went 4.08kg and it was a great way to cap of a sensational tournament. I had caught all my fish on 3” Sliders in the chartreuse/black core colour on 3/8oz Nitro jigheads.
Glenbawn was Tim Morgan’s first win of the year, following four second places in both the BREAM and the BASS comps, cementing him as the circuit’s most consistent angler (yes Tim, you rock).
The next stop is closer to home, with the Bass Electric at Lenthalls Dam.
1) Big deepwater fish were the order of the day at the Motorguide Glenbawn BASS Challenge
2) All anglers had to learn how to needle swim bladders to ensure the comfort and survival of the fish.Reads: 603