UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Dale Hollow Lake

South Africa Takes the Lead

South Africa Takes the Lead

Day two of the XIII Black Bass World Championships saw some shuffling on the leaderboard as team USA jumped up two places, while home team South Africa stole the lead from Italy. Germany is hanging tough in third place as the elite team of American pro anglers gained ground in its bid to return home with a coveted gold medal.

The three boats representing the red, white and blue placed second out of 39 teams on day two. The strong showing enabled the American team to ascend from sixth place on day one to fourth overall. Each of the three American squads weighed a limit of five fish.

James Watson and Fred Roumbanis led the American pack with a bag weight of 8.88 pounds, followed closely by David Dudley and Mark Rose with 8.84 pounds. Scott Martin and Scott Canterbury followed with a total weight of 6.51 pounds for a total day-two team weight of 24.24 pounds, leaving the Americans with 92.5 penalty points. Remember, the aim of a Reverse Grand Prix international scoring system is to end the tourney with the lowest number of penalty points.

“Our approach was for each of us to play to our strengths until we started getting onto something,” says American pro David Fritts. “We are finding fish, but the Vaal River has been a difficult place to read.”

Home team South Africa unseated Italy and ended day two atop the leaderboard with a consistent showing. All three African boats placed high in the rankings, reducing their overall penalty points. The total weight for South Africa on day two: a solid 28.7 pounds and 50.5 penalty points. Team members indicate they are onto a good pattern but say the fishing is becoming more challenging as the tourney progresses.

Italy fell to second place with a total bag weight of 23.8 pounds and 71 penalty points. The Italian team has remained consistent through the first two days.      

“During practice we looked more and fished less,” says Eddy Peruzzo, Italy team captain, who used electronics and shoreline observation to target hot spots. The team found some good locations, caught a few fish and developed a pattern.

“We prayed for rain on day two but didn’t get it. The worse the conditions, the better for us,” says Simone Bruccoleri. “In Italy, we use light line, sometimes down to 2-pound test, fish slowly and use very small baits.”

Bruccoleri broke tournament silence and pointed out the use of similar tactics on the tricky South African venue. The Italian team has downsized to 5-pound-test line and small baits to entice limits of fish both days of the tourney.

Germany sits in the third position and on day two managed a full bag among all three boats with a total weight of 23.7 pounds, which awarded the team 91 penalty points. Although the range in penalty points among the top five teams appears wide, the standings remain quite close. Any of the top five teams could change tomorrow’s leaderboard with a strong showing.

A total of 172 bass were weighed on the seond day of the event, with an average weight of 1.53 pounds. The big fish of the day registered 5.61 pounds on the official scale. Only 26 of the 39 teams limited on day two.

Here are the standings at the end of day two:

  1. South Africa
  2. Italy
  3. Germany
  4. USA
  5. Zambia
  6. Spain
  7. Swaziland
  8. Namibia
  9. Zimbabwe
  10. Portugal

Complete results

The quality of all anglers attending the XIII Black Bass World Championships remains evident. The results represent vast knowledge and experience from capable bass anglers around the world. Competitors remain secretive about patterns and tactics, but one resounding theme appears: Vaal River bass are on the spawn, and all teams are targeting them.

Yesterday’s post-game analysis from American pro Lionel Botha about day one woes caused by low light conditions hinted at his focus on spawning fish. As well, other competitors have spoken about water turbidity in some areas that limits visibility. This type of conversation means one thing – sight-fishing for spawning bass.

Steve Engelbrecht, owner of World of Fishing tackle store in Northcliff, South Africa, and a frequent visitor of the Vaal, says competitors from each country would have studied seasonal patterns ahead of time and charted areas to target spawning fish. It’s no secret the international teams are targeting them.

“I have no doubt the class of anglers here will quickly figure it out. But it won’t be easy,” Engelbrecht notes.

Spawning bass on the Vaal are routinely targeted around ditches, creeks, holes in the reeds, slipways and boat ramps – just like in any other fishery – but specific techniques on this system can be challenging for foreign anglers. It’s difficult to learn about current, gravel flats and historically productive spawning grounds in just a couple days.

“There are hundreds of slipways and jetties, and not all of them hold bass,” Engelbrecht muses.  

Weather predictions for the third and final day of the tournament are calling for morning thunderstorms, heavy downpours, high wind and temperatures around 72 degrees. Conditions will be difficult, but perhaps the very edge to propel an experienced American team to the top of the leaderboard.

“The ability to change [tactics] is something we are very good at,” says David Fritts.

 

Additional photos

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