THE SMITHY’S Earth Moving team (Brad Smith/Steve Almond) combined local knowledge and fishing skill to take out the Terrace Boating/Yamaha MegaBASS held at Lake StClair in NSW’s Hunter Valley on Aril 26 and 27. The pair eclipsed last year’s winners, Team Lowrance (Peter Keidge/Harry Watson) and Toowoomba based NJ Canvas (David Green and Ian Black) to finish with a 10/12 bag of bass that weighed in at 13.18kg.
Twenty-six teams competed for the highest cash prizes ever offered in an ABT tournament, with seven teams sharing the $19,900 cash between them over the three skins-style sessions. The MegaBASS skins concept allows teams to start on an equal footing each session, ensuring that no one is out of the running to win the big bucks.
Session 1 saw some excellent fish come to the weigh master, with the productive Caloundra City Power Boats team of John Schofield and Matthew Mott outfishing Team Lowrance in second place and Smithy’s Earth Moving in third.
Fishing a 12–15ft deep flat opposite the main camping area, Schofield and Mott combined Berkley Power Shad plastics with 1/8oz jigheads to secure their bag.
“I used a Loomis Drop Shot rod matched with a Daiwa Regal-S 2000 spinning reel to land my fish,” an elated Schofield said at the presentation. “The Drop Shot rod’s soft tip allowed me to work the plastic with small shakes rather than sharp lifts, and this had the desired result.”
Session 2 was the toughest of the three-session tournament, with only 28 fish brought to the weigh master’s stand. In a display of great fishing in tough conditions, Team O’Brien’s Glass (Jamie Hardman/Marty Van Vegchel) weighed in four fish for 5.52kg to top NJ Canvas (David Green/Ian Black) with 4/4 for 5.10kg and Mullet Gut Marine (Carl Jocumsen/Jason Ehrlich) with 4/4 for 4.42kg.
“This is sensational,” beamed Hardman as Tournament Director Steve Morgan handed over the $3100 winner’s cheque. “It’s great to win some cash and beat some of the quality opposition.”
Hardman used a G.Loomis GL2 matched to a Shakespeare Pflueger Trion reel spooled with 20lb Bionic Braid and topped off with a 15 or 30lb Super 100 leader, while Van Vegchel teamed a Daiwa Procaster-X rod with a TD-X 103HJ reel spooled with 20lb FireLine topped off with 15 or 30lb Super 100 leader.
“We had to upgrade our leaders as the larger fish were busting us off in the timber,” explained Van Vegchel. “We fished in 18–26ft of water using 3/8 and 1/2oz olive skirt Greenfish Custombait. The method was simple – we cast out and wound the lures through trees quickly where weed was, or we let them sink for five to 10 seconds in clearer patches before retrieving. The bigger fish were all associated with the trees, with some smaller fish found on the weed edges, to fill out the bags.”
While Saturday was a great day for O’Brien’s Glass, Sunday was tough for reasons other than the lack of fish. While tucking in for a comfortable night’s sleep, Van Vegchel was bitten by redback spider and became very ill. He decided to tough it out and fished through Sunday before going straight to hospital after the tournament for an anti-venom injection. What a way to finish off a successful tournament!
Session 3 was the icing on the cake for Smithy’s Earth Moving with a 20g victory (4/4, 5.84kg) over the consistent Team Lowrance (4/4, 5.82kg) and the pre-tournament favourites, Millerods/Minn Kota (4/4, 3.88kg). Attributing their success to 1/8oz AusSpin jigheads rigged with Berkley 3” Drop Shot Minnows, Smithy’s Earth Moving angler Steve Almond was ecstatic with the session win.
“I knew we had a big bag, but the delay while Steve Booth weighed the fish was excruciating. And to be 20g in front of Harry and Keidgy in the final wash-up was awesome.”
Smith used a Loomis Popping Rod matched to Daiwa Procaster 1000 threadline spooled with 4lb Berkley Fireline and an 8lb Siglon fluorocarbon leader, while Almond used a Shimano Stella Spin matched to a TD-S 2000 reel spooled with 4lb Fireline and 8lb Siglon leader to present the jigs. Smithy’s Earth Moving fished two locations to accrue their bags.
“On Saturday we fished alongside trees in 50 foot of water where we could see the fish suspending,” Smith said. “We’d drop the jigs straight down and jiggle the lure in front of the fish until we got a strike. After the strike the fun started, with the aim being to keep the fish away from the sticks. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.
“On Sunday we fished an open flat of 53 foot with a stump or rock on it. The fish were piled up over it and the same lure and technique worked here too,” added Smith. “We also caught two of our bag on AusSpin spinnerbaits, but the soft plastics were definitely more successful.”
To add to their stash of cash, Smithy’s Earth Moving took out the Greg Fernance MegaBASS Big Bass trophy and prize of $1000. Weighing a 2.36kg StClair bass in the first session, Smithy’s had to go through two serious Big Bass challenges from Mullet Gut Marine and Team Lowrance, with both teams weighing in a 2.32kg bass each to miss the mark by a mere 40g.
Yamaha/Terrace Boating MegaBASS, Lake StClair April 26 – 27, 2003
|Caloundra City Power Boats||4/4||5.62kg||$3100|
|Smithy’s Earth Moving||3/4||4.96kg||$1100|
|Mullet Gut Marine||4/4||4.42kg||$1100|
|Smithy’s Earth Moving||4/4||5.84kg||$3100|
|Miller Rods/Minn Kota||4/4||3.88kg||$1100|
|Smithy’s Earth Moving||10/12||13.18kg||$5200|
Smithy’s Earth Moving 2.36kg
|$4000 Yamaha voucher||Mick Clarke|
|$200 Compleat Angler Pack||Craig Simmons|
Total Payout $24,100
Major Sponsors: Yamaha, Terrace Boating
Local Area Sponsor: Singleton Tourism
1) Session One winners John Schofield and Matt Mott represented Caloundra City Power Boats.
2) Session Two winners O’Brian’s Glass were represented by Jamie Hardman and Marty Van Vegchel.
3) Session Three and overall winners Smithy’s Earth Moving were represented by Brad Smith and Steve Almond.Reads: 850