UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Lake Champlain

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

South Africa Wins Gold, Silver for U.S.

South Africa Wins Gold, Silver for U.S.

VANDERBIJLPARK, SOUTH AFRICA (Oct. 7, 2017) – South Africa raced to the top on the third and final day of the XIII Black Bass World Championships to earn the gold medal of world bass fishing while the United States surged to silver.

The South African team, dressed in green and gold country colors for the final tourney day, might have been twice a bridesmaid the last two years, earning silver in both Italy and Portugal, but it now owns the title of world champion.

The elite American team ended day one in sixth position, and by day three scratched its way to a second-place finish. The anglers on Team USA gained strength from the first day to the last. One can only be reminded of the Vince Lombardi quote, “I’ve never lost a game, but have upon occasion run out of time.”

“Our approach for the tournament was to stay consistent and be in the hunt. We wanted each of our boats to bring in 8 to 10 pounds a day,” says the U.S. team manager Lionel Botha. “I think we did a pretty good job.”

Italy, a strong competitor who held top spot on day one, lagged on the final day and remained unable to outmaneuver the powerhouse American team, finishing third and earning bronze. It became a game of ounces on a South African day of mixed clouds, thunderstorms and heavy rain.

The European country of Spain made a surprise appearance on the leaderboard and unseated Germany for fourth place. Germany held a top-five position throughout the tournament before being toppled on Saturday and falling to eighth. Fifth place was awarded to Zambia, an African country much closer to the equator without bass.

Here are the final top-10 rankings for the XIII Black Bass World Championships:

1. South Africa

2. USA

3. Italy

4. Spain

5. Zambia

6. Zimbabwe

7. Namibia

8. Germany

9. Swaziland

10. Mexico

 

Championship tactics

The South Africans have put together a crackerjack bass team over the last few years, consisting of top anglers capable of competing anywhere in the world. Team captain Justy Varkevisser is widely considered to be the best bass angler in the nation. Varkevisser has won virtually every bass title in the southern Africa region and competes often in the U.S.

“I leave in four days for the B.A.S.S. Nation event on Lake Hartwell, and then to the Costa FLW Series [Championship] event at Kentucky Lake in early November,” says Varkevisser, who credits his team with much of the heavy lifting on the road to gold.

He says his team’s knowledge of Vaal River spawning habits was at the core of its game plan. The Vaal River exhibits a few unique characteristics the South Africans used to their advantage. One important technique is to fish slowly for spawning fish, and the other important factor relates to river silt.

“The river has become silted over the last 10 years, and it causes bass to spawn in defined areas,” Varkevisser explains.

The silt covers the gravel where bass like to build nests, so the South African anglers targeted areas with heavy boat traffic, where boat wakes washed the silt off the gravel. They also targeted jetties and break walls that were built upon gravel. River current exposes the old gravel beds on the upstream side, while the downstream side remains silty. The South African team not only targeted spawning fish in those specific areas, but focused on postspawn fish far upstream when competitor boats stacked up in the more obvious bedding spots.

The champions employed soft plastics on active spawners and a combination of spinnerbaits and jerkbaits on the postspawn bass. A few other international teams picked up on the patterns, and those that realized the importance of a slow presentation fared best.

Eddy Perruzo, Italy team captain, disclosed early in the tournament that his anglers used practice days to “look more and fish less.” They found good concentrations of spawning bass near the jetties and break walls in an area known as Millionaires Bend. The river location is about 9 miles downstream from the launching point and exhibits the clearest water.

The Italian anglers, three-time world champions, noted that many of the boat docks and slips in the region were too muddy to hold spawning fish, and they found harder bottom structure in other places. Initially, the European anglers found the bass reluctant to strike and began a regiment of finesse fishing with 5-pound-test line and a Texas rigged 4-inch soft-plastic bait, predominately a Yamamoto Stretch 40.

“We had to fish very slow,” says Italian vice-captain Simone Bruccoleri.

He says most of the time the bites were very subtle, but for very short periods of time the bass would become active and strike viciously.

The U.S. team came to Africa armed with a wealth of Vaal River knowledge thanks to Lionel Botha, a South African-born professional angler. Botha spent many days on the Vaal River honing skills that would later carry him to America.

“Our approach was to target spawning areas by sight-fishing,” Botha says.

The Americans found fish by sighting them on warm and sunny practice days, but stormy skies greeted them during the tournament and limited their ability to see the fish. The frontal system pushed many of the same fish off the beds.

The U.S. team caught fish on jerkbaits, a few on jigs but mostly on light line and soft plastics. The fish wanted a slow fall and subtle presentation. Botha says the use of light line contributed to several heartbreaking losses, including several 4-pound fish.

Although the American team hoped to return with a gold medal in hand, a second-place finish and a shiny silver medal amidst a field of top-rated anglers from around the world represents a major victory. The Americans adapted to a unique team concept scoring system and a tough challenge from the home team.  

“The entire American team enjoyed this tremendously. The comradery was great,” says Botha. “We fish against each other in America, and this type of tournament brings us closer together.”

 

 

 

More photos

 

Big Little Boats

Big Little Boats

There is a massive surge in innovation in the fishing kayak industry, as evidenced by a showroom floor packed with canoes, kayaks, boats – and, in many cases, a combination of all of them – at ICAST 2019. READ MORE »

4 Hot New Reels from ICAST

4 Hot New Reels from ICAST

2019 is the year of the trolling motor at ICAST, but it wouldn’t be ICAST without at least a few next generation reels from some of the best manufacturers in the business. READ MORE »

New Baits from ICAST 2019

New Baits from ICAST 2019

Here’s a primer on some of the baits that we thought stood out at the show. It’s not a comprehensive list. Rather, it’s just a taste of what will probably make a splash on the market in the coming months.  READ MORE »

Sign up for Polaris Sportsman Giveaway

Sign up for Polaris Sportsman Giveaway

FLW has teamed up with its partners at Polaris to give away a Polaris Sportsman® 570 EPS valued at approximately $7,799. This special giveaway offer is being shared with FLW members and fans. READ MORE »

Ouachita to host Dee Zee FLW/KBF Cup

Ouachita to host Dee Zee FLW/KBF Cup

The Dee Zee FLW/KBF Cup presented by YakAttack will feature up to 238 of the top kayak bass anglers from around the country who have qualified for the event through the FLW/KBF Kayak Open, the KBF National Championship, the KBF Trail and the KBF Pro Tour. They will be competing for a total prize package of $18,000 – a $3,000 Dee Zee gift card and $15,000 in cash. READ MORE »

Winning Baits from the 2019 FLW Tour

Winning Baits from the 2019 FLW Tour

Before we shift our focus to previewing the 2019 FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton, let’s start with a look back at the baits that were used to win the seven FLW Tour events this season. READ MORE »

First 2020 FLW Tour Invites Sent

First 2020 FLW Tour Invites Sent

Today, FLW sent out 119 invitations for the 2020 FLW Tour to the top performers from the 2019 FLW Tour. These invitations are in alignment with the 2019 FLW Tour rules that were announced last summer that transitioned the Tour to a qualification system, as well as one amendment made to accommodate changes in the pro bass fishing industry. The amendment was announced to pros at the registration meeting for the season finale on Lake Champlain last week. READ MORE »

2019 FLW Cup Roster

2019 FLW Cup Roster

With Casey Scanlon’s win at Lake Champlain in the books – not to mention the crowning of David Dudley as Angler of the Year for the fourth time and Ron Nelson as Polaris Rookie of the Year – the 2019 FLW Tour season is complete. Now, focus turns to Hot Springs, Ark., and the 2019 FLW Cup August 9-11. READ MORE »

Cortiana Recovering from Wreck

Cortiana Recovering from Wreck

Oklahoma pro Kyle Cortiana was involved in an accident near Indianapolis on his way home from the FLW Tour event at Lake Champlain on Saturday. He has since been released from of a local hospital and is now in a hotel room recovering and waiting for a ride home to the Sooner State.  READ MORE »

Melissa Browne’s First Look at Champlain

Melissa Browne’s First Look at Champlain

When Browne passed away last month after a difficult fight with cancer, there was one item on his list with regard to Champlain that remained unchecked. And it had nothing to do with actually competing there.  Glenn never got to take his wife, Melissa, to visit Champlain and spend time together in the Adirondack region. She’s remedying the situation this week by participating in the FLW Marshal program. READ MORE »

Jonathan Henry, 1982-2019

Jonathan Henry, 1982-2019

Professional angler Jonathan Henry of Grant, Ala., lost his battle with cancer today. He was 36 years old. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Buddy Gross

Check-in Time: Buddy Gross

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Buddy Gross.  READ MORE »

FLW Spain Championship Recap

FLW Spain Championship Recap

The 2019 FLW Spain Championship took place June 1-2 in the waters of the Garcia Sola reservoir. The event, which was the qualifying route to the Costa FLW Series Championship, was hosted by the municipality of Herrera del Duque. The team of Mario Sánchez and Juan Luis Sánchez topped the field with a total weight of 19 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: David Williams 

Check-in Time: David Williams 

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with David Williams. READ MORE »

Reserve Your FLW Cup VIP Pass Now

Reserve Your FLW Cup VIP Pass Now

If you’re an FLW member, now is the time to start planning your trip to Hot Springs, Ark., for the 2019 FLW Cup Aug. 9-11. Act now to take advantage of special members-only VIP benefits by signing up for a special VIP pass. READ MORE »

Cox and Dudley on their AOY Chances

Cox and Dudley on their AOY Chances

Every angler starts his season with the hope of being in contention for AOY by the final tournament. Mathematically, only a handful of anglers are still in it this year, but realistically, as the FLW Tour heads to its final stop of 2019 at Lake Champlain, it’s a two-angler race. READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Premieres at 2 p.m. CT

Rapala Varsity Bass Premieres at 2 p.m. CT

The long-awaited premiere of Rapala Varsity Bass is here. In Episode 1, college fishing competitor Tyler Anderson takes on Lake Texoma. Along the way, Tyler offers an intimate portrait into his life as a YouTuber, tournament angler and senior at Texas A&M. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Josh Douglas

Check-in Time: Josh Douglas

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they've been up to, what they're listening to, who they're following and where they're heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Josh Douglas.  READ MORE »

Bass Fishing's in the Blood for Swanson Brothers

Bass Fishing's in the Blood for Swanson Brothers

You could debate whether it’s nature or nurture that starts an angler toward success in tournament bass fishing. In the case of Thor and Mitchell Swanson, the answer is both.  READ MORE »

Grand Lake FLW Series Event Moved to Sam Rayburn

Grand Lake FLW Series Event Moved to Sam Rayburn

Due to extreme high water on Grand Lake, the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division tournament scheduled there June 13-15 has been moved to Sam Rayburn Reservoir out of Umphrey Family Pavilion in Brookeland, Texas. The FLW Series Southwestern Division tournament scheduled Oct. 3-5 on Sam Rayburn has been moved to Grand Lake out of Wolf Creek Park in Grove, Okla.   READ MORE »