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Slater Slams the Classic- - Full Report

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B.A.S.S. AUSTRALIA NATION
Thursday, June 28, 2018

The weather turned it on over the weekend and the lake setup for perfect conditions with mild winds and clear skies allowing the anglers plenty of time to focus on the go to locations, and a break in the fog for the full 2 days of competition meant no late starts on Saturday or Sunday. 78 Anglers hit the water and 78 anglers hit the scales which shows just how good St Clair is and the fact that the smallish lake can handle 3 days of full pressure. 

The weather turned it on over the weekend and the lake setup for perfect conditions with mild winds and clear skies allowing the anglers plenty of time to focus on the go to locations, and a break in the fog for the full 2 days of competition meant no late starts on Saturday or Sunday. 78 Anglers hit the water and 78 anglers hit the scales which shows just how good St Clair is and the fact that the smallish lake can handle 3 days of full pressure. 

With an incredible field set and so much on the line in the 5th round of the Berkley Series for so many anglers, St Clair in June is set up to test the anglers differently to any other fishery we have on offer in Australia. Big numbers of bass hitting the scales are guaranteed, (372 made it to the scales), the big issues are always finding the right pattern that temps the larger of the species and being able to consistently land quality over the 3 sessions. With so many 600-700-gram fish on offer, it sure is hard to move away from fish on the sounder, but Tom Slater stuck to his guns and took out the Keitech St Clair Classic by only 50 grams from Diamond Dave Welfare.

In the Co-Angler ranks all eyes were on 2 anglers as they pushed their way towards the major Tabs Boats & Honda Marine motor Co-AOY prize package, but Dane Pryce stood up and is more than relevant after claiming his maiden win in the Classic. Gaining the full 100 points on offer Dane is now one of 5 anglers in the hunt for the co-angler AOY and took home one over $2,000 in cash and prizes for the weekend.

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Tom Slater – 6/6 – 5.05kg – Keitech Champion Trophy & $3,300.00.

Slater has had an extended break from B.A.S.S. Australia and with a comeback on the same lake that saw him secure his maiden win 4 seasons ago, he was always going to competitive come the Championship Sunday weigh-in.

Slater understood that every morning the bite period was extended and he was going to busy early up, so he used a Sawamura OneUp Shad rigged very light on 1/8thand 1/12thjigheads to keep the lure above the weed bed lined banks of St Clair. It was important to get the lure right into the strike zone, so in the light winds he was able to use the very light presentation towards the drop off areas of the weed. 

Understanding the area, he was able to cast out and allow the lure to slowly sink down the face of the weed where the bass would shoot out and take what was on offer, and then try and bury back into the weed. He used a (soon to be released) Daiwa TD Black LT 3000, matched with TD Black ‘Whippet’ 701MLXS-ST combo which is ideal for light weighted jig heads, which allowed him to rip the plastic out of the weed easy while stick being able to feel the presentation. He landed over a dozen bass in the first session and was confident heading into session 2 that he would be able to secure his limit.

In session two he managed his limit by 1:20pm and then moved to a flippin technique using his trusty Pro’s Factory 3/8oz Equip Hybrid jigs and found 2 solid keepers that realistically secured his victory for him, The final session was a grind for the entire field, but Slater managed 3 legal bass I in the session using the plastic morning presentation to take home the $3,500.00 in cash and prizes.

Taking this win has Slater in a favourable position with instant qualification for the Berkley Championship and we know he has some great history on Lake Glenbawn. If he manages to go one better and secure a win he will be heading to the USA in early November to take on the best the world has on offer from the Nations and will have his shot at making the largest and most prestigious fishing tournament in the world, the Bassmaster Classic.

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Diamond Dave Welfare – 6/6 – 5.0okg – Keitech 2ndPlace Trophy & $1,200.00.

Diamond Dave is always one to watch in the southern swing and again he was at the pointy end of the Classic being only 60 grams from Victory.

Welfare has an extended intimate knowledge of Lake St Clair with years’ experience on the waterway, this time he had found a particular location that was holding some better size bass than most of the schools. With 6 days of practice over 2 weeks before the blackout period put in he found a better than average fish are in a channel between a weed bed, rocky bank and a tree dropping from 5 to 30ft.

He mentioned that his primary technique involved two main plastics which were the Keitech Easy Shiner and ZMan Slim Swims. Matching these plastics to one particular jig was also a key in his presentation and using he 1/6 and ¼ Berkley Dam Deep with Owner Hooks gave him confidence to stay on the fish and put them in the boat once hooked.

Welfare has been using these particular Owner hooks for years and he feels they are the stickiest, sharpest hook on the market, allowing him to fish with a clear mind that they will do their job if he finds the bites.

Dave’s plastic setup consisted of a new rod from Duffrods, the Multi Light model, made for Australian Bass and this technique fits perfectly with the range, he matched the rod with a Freams 200 sized reel and spooled up with Unitika Bream Super PE brain in 8lb & Sunline FC 5lb leader material.

This result will have Welfare sitting well in the AOY standings after Boondooma and most likely will help him stay in the top 12 for the $10,000.00 Motackle invitional.

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Matthew Langford – 6/6 – 4.91kg – Keitech 3rdPlace Trophy & $1,000.00.

Langford had multiple goals last weekend and this 3rdplace sees him with one hand on the AOY trophy, which will see him travel to the USA to compete in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship in 2019.

With a stellar run of 16 top 10 finishes, another top 3 on St Clair was all important and he focused all weekend around weed banks to secure his limit each session.

Using a Nories Inlet Shad matched to a 1/6thjig head he was fishing across the top of the weed banks and allowing the lure to drop down the face of the structure.

Langford used Millerods for all his outfits and matched a Finesse Freak with a 1000 Stradic to get the job done.

Travelling overseas for a few weeks, Langford won’t have a chance to practice before the Atomic Boondooma AOY Championship event, and only arrives back in the country a couple of days out. With Cody Haynes breathing down his neck he will be looking for another top 3 to secure the AOY title.

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Dane Pryce – 6/6 – 5.11kg – Keitech Co-Angler Champion Trophy, $680.00, Keitech Prize Pack & Kistler Rod. Tonic Big Bass Eyewear

Dane Pryce took out his maiden win, landed the largest limit of the tournament and also the Tonic Big Bass of the event which saw him take a huge payout for the weekends work. 

Using a combination of Keitech Easy Shiner plastics and Daiwa Double Clutch jerk baits, Pryce found the larger bites came on the jerk bait technique. This included the big bass of the tournament which really helped him take out the win. Pryce also matched his plastics to the 1/6th Berkley Dam Deep jigs.

Fishing with confidence he was able to rotate between the techniques and felt comfortable that he would be able to land a limit easy with the plastic at any stage.

Using a brand new Mellerrod Finesse Freak rod, he matched a Daiwa Luvias 2004 to get the job done and spooled up with Daiwa Evo 8 10lb Braid and 6lb Sunline leader material.

This win has Pryce well in contention for the Co-Angler AOY title which includes a Tabs Boat and Honda Motor package worth over $22,000.00, and with solid momentum he will defiantly be one to watch late July.

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Kyle Lewis – 6/6 – 4.50kg – Keitech Prize Pack & Atomic Rod.

Kyle Lewis is always consistently towards the top in the Co ranks of the southern tournaments and again he wasn’t far behind the winner on St Clair. Using Keitech Easy Shiner plastics matched with Berkley 1/6thDam Deep jigs he landed one of the largest sacks over the final session.

Also using a Millerrod Finesse Freak and a 1000 Stradic, but he spooled up with only 5lb Sunline mainline and 6lb Sunline leader material.

Lewis has had a great year, but is on the bubble for the Championship qualification spot, only after Boondooma will he know if he makes it to the Championship.

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Nick Price – 6/6 – 4.47kg – Keitech Prize Pack.

Nick Price used a slightly different technique to most of the field which still included an Keitech Easy Shiner in Pumpkin Chartreuse colour, but he rigged it weedless on an Owner Finesse hook to be able to get the lure deeper in the weed.

Price had only fished a few events and is growing in confidence every time he hits the lake, and with access to his local lakes of Glenbawn and St Clair close by, he wil be looking to compet hard once he steps up to the pro level in 2019.

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The Keitech St Clair Wrap.

Special thanks to Baden Sparrow and Keitech crew for the support over the weekend, there was a great turn out of anglers and with over 370 bass hitting the scales the Classic is secure for the coming years.

Also the team at Berkley have supplied a huge amount of tackle for the prize packs, you will seeing some large prizes later in the year.

Thanks to the helpers including Cam Jones & Tracy Brown, you make the tournaments great.

Next month we are at Boondooma, which is a smaller lake but in late July should be firing on all cylinders, if you are looking to compete as a pro or co-angler it will be best to get your entries in ASAP to secure a great starting position and to guaranteed your entry in the co’s