HOW do we define a champion?
Being a great angler doesn’t mean you are a good person, but being a great angler and a good person means you are a champion. With the best 32 Pro and Co-Anglers of 2017 hitting the shores of Lake Boondooma in the South Burnett region recently for the Atomic Championship, we had an absolutely titanic battle of will and determination, with one angler showing his dominance on the Australian bass fishing circuit.
Dean Silvester took out his first Atomic B.A.S.S. Australia Nation Championship and will now represent Australia in the US this October. The word ‘champion’ can be thrown around a lot in this day and age, but with this championship win, and three out of the past four Samurai Rods Angler of the Year titles, Dean has surely cemented himself as the ultimate benchmark in the Australian bass tournament scene.
In the Co-Angler ranks, a new angler emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Daniel McCoy stepped up to the plate on Sunday and weighed in the largest sack of the tournament to claim his first title and the Australian Co-Angler Championship.
Fishing only his third tournament, Daniel clawed his way back from 23rd place and leap-frogged a huge number of anglers to shock the crowd and claim the Atomic title. In winning the Atomic Pro title, Dean landed six-out-of-six fish totalling 6.9kg. For his efforts, he picked up the Atomic B.A.S.S. Australia Nation Champion Trophy and representative trip to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship in the US, a Garmin Quatix watch, Tonic polarised eyewear and customised Australian representative tournament shirts for a total package value in excess of $10,000.
With so many tournaments under Dean’s belt over his career, he had consciously made the decision to focus more on where he was heading and look to chase the ultimate dream of fishing in the US. This meant that for the next few seasons at least, Dean was not planning on fishing the local circuit, making this his last big tournament in Australia.
So with that in mind, the pressure to give claiming the Atomic B.A.S.S. Australia Nation title one last shot to help fast-track his international career must have been immense. With some incredible anglers chasing this victory, the last session of the year had Dean sitting 650g behind local favourite Matthew Langford, with five anglers all within 1kg of claiming the title.
This left Dean with one shot to claim the elusive title, and he had saved up a milk run that produced 2.5kg of bass to see him finish 740g clear of Mitchell Cone in second place. Before the event started, I spoke to quite a few anglers and the word ‘adaptability’ came up in nearly every conversation.
The angler who could best adjust to the changing wind, light and temperature would be the one to claim the title.
We had three sessions across two days, with the wind changing through each session dramatically from south-southeasterly to north-northwesterly and finally southwest-westerly on Sunday.
This type of change generally makes for very tough fishing, but Boondooma still gave up amazing action and we saw the big girls brought to the weigh station. Drawing 31st out of a 32-angler start line wasn’t ideal for Dean, and with only an hour and a half to go in the first session he had nothing in the well, so the signs were not good.
Moving away from the standard community holes the majority of anglers were fishing, Dean headed out on his own and picked up a Jackall Squirrel 79DD jerkbait to fish on his Quantum Smoke S3 baitcaster and Dobyns Champion 684 rod rigged with Sunline Super PE8 braid and 12lb Sunline FC Sniper leader to try to recover from his bad start.
Slow twitching this lure through the shallow banks of Boondooma, Dean quickly picked up his bag and managed two important upgrades to end up sitting in equal eighth place, a mere 470g behind the leader. At the start of session two, Dean headed back to a main community hole and alternated between Palms F-Leads and Slow Blatts on his Dobyns Champion Extreme 743 rod, Quantum Smoke Speed Freak 30 reel, Sunline PE EGI ULT 0.8PE and 10lb Sunline FC Sniper leader.
These spoon-like lures work well when slowly retrieved through the schools of bass sitting suspended across Boondooma’s flats and points. Putting together a solid bag moved Dean into third place and kept the dream alive.
With only 650g separating him from first place, Dean went back to his honey hole for the final session.
He had stayed away from this spot in the Stewart arm since the first session to not over-fish it before his final charge.
After changing techniques and gear to a Kei-tech Swing Impact swimbait and 1/4oz jig head, Quantum Smoke PTiA 25 reel and Dobyns Champion 701 rod, he managed to work the area and pick up multiple upgrades to put together his largest sack of the tournament.
With it all in front of him now, Dean can relax and focus on Lake Hartwell, South Carolina and look to enjoy the trip of a lifetime. Heading to a different country to chase a different species is difficult, but with his professionalism and determination, we are sure Dean will do Australia proud in mid-October.
Mitchell gave it his all and really stepped up in this big event, proving how much ability he has across state lines. So many anglers struggle to compete on interstate waterways and it seems the biggest challenge for NSW anglers is working out the northern strain bass.
This result will go a long way to help Mitchell in future events and he can walk away with his head held very high.
He had the determination to keep a hold of the title and only one angler stopped his march to a back-to-back victory. With limited practice and experience on Boondooma, Mitchell worked out a solid plan that almost pulled him through.
Using his electronics, he looked for fish holding on or near ledges and gutters. He had worked out that the bass needed different presentations depending on their location and used small hopping, burn and kill, slow roll and bottom shake retrieves through the tournament.
His go-to gear consisted of a Millerods US BassFreaK matched with a Shimano Ci4 Stradic reel and spooled with Sufix 832 4lb braid and Sufix Super 21 FC leader. The third-placed Pro was Brett Turner whose six-out-of-six bag totalled 6.19kg.
Brett won a $600 Atomic cheque, Garmin VIRB camera, $590 Atomic entry credits voucher and the Atomic Championship third-place trophy. Brett is a Kingaroy local who seems to improve in every tournament. Having an early draw in the first session, Brett decided to attack the community holes and had a specific location near the Carsberg area in 12-18m of water.
Catching over 40 bass through the tournament, all Brett needed to do was look for solid upgrades, and he worked out that mixing up a variety of spoons through the day resulted in success. His go-to spoons were the Nories Metal Wasaby, new Maria Mucho Lucir and Smak Knife.
He mentioned the Maria was by far the standout, and fishing both the 25g and 35g lures meant he could change setups to make the lures work the way the fish liked. Brett’s lighter setup comprised a Dobyns 701 rod matched to a Daiwa Certate 2000 reel spooled with 6lb Berkley FireLine Exceed and 10lb Sunline FC.
When he picked up the heavier 35g lure he switched to a Dobyns 743 rod and Daiwa Certate 2500 reel with 8lb Berkley FireLine Exceed and 12lb Sunline FC. The difference in line weight also affected the sink rates and allowed Brett to have complete control over the fall of the lures.
After this solid third place, it will be very interesting to see how Brett takes on next season and how he improves.
In the Co-Angler division, Daniel McCoy’s four-out-of-six bag weighed a solid 5.35kg, which was enough for him to take the title. Daniel won two Garmin Striker 7DV fishfinders with GPS, a Samurai Refraction rod, Samurai Reaction rod, Tonic polarised eyewear, $100 motackle.com.au voucher, the Atomic B.A.S.S. Australia Nation Champion Co-Angler trophy and the Atomic Championship prize pack.
Daniel is the perfect example of how an angler can improve over a short season and in three quick tournaments claim the Atomic B.A.S.S. Australian Championship along with a swag of gear. Being so close on Lake St Clair in a recent tournament, Daniel has vivid memories of Rob Tilley snatching victory from him.
So when Rob stepped to the stage at Boondooma as the last to weigh in, Daniel mentioned how he felt a strong sense of déjà vu, and in the end couldn’t believe he came from so far back to take the title.
Practising all year with good friends Garry Harman and Justin Freney, these three anglers devised a plan that they stuck to all weekend.
The plan involved fishing a combination of Nories Metal Wasaby spoons and Halco Twisties for the duration of the three sessions. Seeing Daniel waiting in the morning to board Mitchell Cone’s boat, he was holding just one main setup in his hand and said he was in the last session just to try to help Mitchell succeed in the Pro division.
Well that one setup did its job well and consisted of a Daiwa Generation Black Wild Weasel rod matched to a Daiwa Gen Black 2500 reel spooled with 8lb Daiwa J-Braid and 12lb Sunline FC Rock leader. The trick to his success in the last session was the movement of his lure, and he mixed it up with hops, shakes and pauses to allow the ultra-big bass to hit the lure like trains.
Managing the Tonic Eyewear Big Bass of the event, Daniel landed a 2.21kg Boondooma monster to also score a set of Tonic sunglasses. Daniel now has a huge amount of tackle to top up the box and is super-keen to get stuck into next season. The second-placed Co-Angler was Justin Freney with a six-out-of-six bag weighing 5.18kg.
Justin picked up an Atomic Arrowz rod, Samurai Reaction rod, $100 motackle.com.au voucher and Atomic Championship prize pack.
Rounding out the top three in the Co-Angler division was Andrew Carlyle whose six-out-of-six bag pulled the scales down to 4.65kg. For his efforts, Andrew went home with a Samurai Inflict rod, Atomic Arrowz rod, $100 mot ackle.com.au voucher and Atomic Championship prize pack.
Andrew is no stranger to success on Lake Boondooma, having taken the win in a previous qualifier, and he was again at the top of his game, managing the all-important six from six limit throughout the tournament. Landing over 40 bass in the weekend, Andrew used a vertical hopping technique to entice the hook-ups on a Palms Slow Blatt 30g lure. His setup comprised an Ecooda Black Hawk rod, 2500 Shimano Sustain reel, 10lb Shimano PowerPro braid and 10lb Sunline FC Rock leader.
The Atomic Championship wrap
We have run a huge number of events this year and over the past four years, but this recent Atomic Championship was easily the best tournament we have put on in the four seasons. The professionalism of the sport is ever-increasing and the anglers really need to pat themselves on the backs with the huge effort they have put in this season.
A special thanks needs to go to all the sponsors that have contributed so much over the season, and especially the Frogley’s Offshore family. Without all their help, the sport wouldn’t be in such good shape and we are looking to go bigger and better in 2018.
A special thankyou also to the South Burnett Regional Council and staff of the Lake Boondooma Caravan and Recreation Park: the area is looking fantastic, the lake is fishing well and we are thankful for your support. Do yourself a favour and get online today to book your next fishing and camping trip to Boondooma, catch the bass of a lifetime and enjoy the outdoors like no other place on earth.
Visit lakeboondooma.com.au for more information.
The staff and helpers at B.A.S.S. Australia Nation are the final pieces in the puzzle that make this all possible, so thanks to Cameron Jones, Tracy Brown and Lauren Kelly for an amazing season. Stay tuned for announcements regarding next season.
The dates are already online, so head to bassaustralia.com.au and search for ‘dates season 5’. Book your holidays now, before you miss out. Keep an eye on these pages as we bring you all the highlights from Dean Silvester and Dylan Fryer’s trip to the US in October.
We are super excited to put these two anglers together and are very interested in seeing how they do on Lake Hartwell.
Thanks to all the fans who tuned in; see you next season.