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Home » Tournaments-and-Events » 2018/19 The Australian Freshwater Masters

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The Australian Freshwater Masters

Last year Team Venom (Shane Banks and Stephen Booth) won The Australian Freshwater Masters. It's time to see how they are going defending their title at the 20th Anniversary year of The Australian Freshwater Masters.

Round 1 Windamere

The first round of The Australian Freshwater Masters was held at an on-fire Lake Windamere near Mudgee in NSW in November 2018.

This event sees two anglers fish as a team to land their 10 longest golden perch, with each team accumulating points per millimetre of fish. For example, a 450mm long golden perch gives the team 450 points.

Team Venom hit the water with a plan to fish blades and vibes like the Zerek Fish Trap along the edges - a tactic that had been producing amazing fishing for the previous 2 months.

On prefish day the boys worked really hard with blades and grubs in the trees to test their worth and found that the fish were responding to the bigger vibes fished on the edges with far more consistency, and the fish were far bigger in size.

The plan was to fish the edges with vibes and live or die by that decision.

Day 1 of the comp saw the team head to the dam wall area of the lake and wait on spot lock for the start time to roll around.

Boothy was using a prototype colour Fish Trap (due for release in June 2019) and as the start button was pressed, he shot out a cast, it landed, sunk and then he shook it and he was on - that quick. The boat next to the team had the timer out and within 45 seconds Team Venom had their first fish in the boat! Shane followed suit with a first cast fish as well and within 5 casts the team had 4 hits, three landed and one dud cast without any interest. Now that's how to start a comp!

By 8:17am (start time was 7am), Team Venom had a full limit and had moved into upgrade territory - the kind of territory you want to be in if you want to be competitive.

The day continued with fish pretty much at all locations the team fished and the last spot fished saw the fish going absolutely nuts!

In the last hour the team landed over 20 goldens with multiple double hook ups, dropped and lost fish and general mayhem ensuing. There were no upgrade fish caught but an amazing day overall drew to a close with the boys having smiles as wide as the Grand Canyon.

Day 2 saw the boys take only one rod out each, their vibe rods. Stephen used a Bone Drago 610M and Shane used the Blue Steel Bass Light. The plan was to just search for bigger fish and if they caught 550mm or smaller goldens, they would move on to try and find some upgrades.

Day 2 is a half day and the fishing was much slower, however the team did manage a couple of upgrades and were lucky enough to measure an absolute stonker of a fish at 596mm for Aaron Lawson caught using the Live Fibre Blade N Tails Ultralight Elite. Both teams hoped this fish would end up being the big fish of the round. We'll have to wait till after the Mulwala round to find out though.

The boys finished up with an average golden perch of 56.21cm, giving them 5621 points for the round, which had them sitting in third place behind Gottcha and Team Dog House.

Round 2 Glenbawn

Round 2 was at Lake Glenbawn chasing bass, a round where traditionally a lot of teams bag out, but getting a big bag is not so easy.

Prefish Day at Glenbawn saw the boys work on the trailer and their gear, as they already had a plan.

That plan involved fishing Bassman Jaw Knockers in low light and Bassman skirted football jigs as the sun was up high. Neither of the two had fished skirted football jigs, so to go into a round with a completely new technique was going to be testing.

Day 1 is a half day from 1pm till 7pm and the boys found the fishing really slow. By the time they had their first fish, they had already measured the eighth fish for Skeeton - a team that was fishing skirted football jigs with far more skill.

But the team persisted with their plan and fish slowly came until Shane noticed one of the banks they were fishing had chopped up a bit with the wind creating a dirty water line. He changed to a Jaw Knocker (small chatterbait) and had immediate success. Three fish in quick succession and Stephen couldn't help himself and tied one on too for a first cast bass over 400mm long!

After the first day, the team had accumulated 7 bass, but the average size was excellent. This was compared to many other teams who had already bagged out but with smaller fish.

Day 2 was looking to be a very long and frustrating day on the water as the team tried to nut out the skirted football jig tactics. Shane continued with the Jaw Knocker and managed to crank out 2 fish while Stephen got 1 to have the team at a full limit of 10 bass. Shane had 6 and Stephen only had four so they made the decision to head up to the Nursery to get Stephen his fifth fish, knowing full well that it was likely to be 300-340mm.

Dropping a skirted football jig down the tree trunks soon had fish five in the well, a fish of 320mm, and the team headed back to the bigger fish bank to see if they could eke out some larger fish to increase their overall 10 fish limit.

The afternoon wore on and late in the day the team managed to get two good upgrade fish, including their biggest of 425mm to the fork that helped them into third place overall for the round behind Skeeton and Woodonga Caravan and Cabin Park. Their average bass was 39.47cm to the fork (3947 points), showing that their stubbornness to stick with the plan and target bigger fish was a good, but frustrating plan.

With two third placings and full limits at each event, Team Venom managed to be sitting in second overall going into round 3 at Mulwala behind Gottcha.

Round 3 Mulwala

In early February 2019, the Grand Final Round was to be held at Lake Mulwala chasing the iconic Murray cod, and it is here we pick up the story of the 20th Anniversary year of The Australian Freshwater Masters.

Unlike most species, it's hard to prefish for Murray cod because you definitely do not want to catch fish a day or two out from the tournament. While Mulwala has thousands of Murray cod in its waters, it's a big disadvantage to 'sting' your competition fish.

With this in mind Stephen and Shane had a plan to look for fish in waters that they could use as backup locations for the competition. They chose to leave their successful areas and snags from the previous year's tournament well alone, trusting that the fish would be there and ready to go come tournament time.

Fishing deep into the Evergaldes area and the flats downstream of the Majors Creek boat ramp, the boys had a fairly productive prefish, finding a few cod. The general rule they applied was to only catch 2 cod in an area and then move on, hoping that a couple of fish on a flat or in an area would indicate good concentrations of fish.

Overall, the prefish saw half a dozen legal cod caught and a few undersized fish as well, giving the team confidence in their backup locations should their preferred and unfished favourite areas produce no fish.

Day 1 started with a briefing at 11am where all the rules and regulations, including session times, were laid out for the competitors. Day 1 would see the teams fish from 12 noon through to 7:30pm.

Heading up into the river area above Majors Creek, Team Venom started their day in a backwater that had produced three legal fish the year before. Unfortunately, this area did not yield a single bite from a cod with only one small golden perch cracking the spinnerbait and the team decided to head into a different backwater to have a look and see what was about.

This particular backwater is littered with snags, both standing and laydown and gave the team more than a kilometre of water to fish. It was in this backwater where the team found their first fish, a neat 60.5cm cod falling to Stephen.

And it was five minutes after this capture that a massive storm rumbled through, growling and spitting in an angry display for 15 minutes of hell on the water!

After the storm, things settled down a little and the decision was made to head to the flats south of Majors and see if they could scrape out a couple more legal fish.

Starting an electric powered drift into the strengthening wind it was Shane who was first to score a measurable fish for the team on the flats and then the curse of the lake minnows set in with the team amassing quite a few undersized fish.

With 35 minutes to go for the day, Stephen's lure got slammed on the drop. He missed the bite, cranked the handle once and got slammed again, but this time the hooks stuck and after a bit of weaving around a few small stand up snags, a beautiful 620mm cod hit the decks.

The team was ecstatic with this last gasp capture and ended the day with three legal cod to their name.

Back at the tournament dinner, the boys discovered two teams had landed four fish and they had three, so the race to win was well and truly on for Day 2.

With a horrible wind forecast to roll in about 10am, the boys decided to fish the productive flats early while the wind was down before heading into the backwaters for protection and opportunities.

Thirty minutes into the session they realised the flats were not going to be the place for them as the wind forecast was totally wrong and the electric motor had them sitting still on a power level of 6. They were concerned about draining all their electric power too early and having none left for the afternoon. The waves were also looking a little menacing, with the wind averaging about 15 knots but gusting up to 25.

Moving into the backwaters of the Everglades, the team persisted through some tough fishing conditions where the wind really whipped itself into a frenzy and the occasional storm rolled over the top of them.  Through sheer persistence and hard work, the boys managed to land three legal fish - the best going a fantastic 78.5cm.

This gave Team Venom 6 legal fish for the tournament, which was the mark for the win the previous year. They had no idea if it would be enough, but were confident of a top 5 finish.

On arrival back at camp, the team discovered one team had 7 legal fish and two other teams had 6 legal fish, meaning the race to finish on top would be solely up to the size of the fish taken.

Team Venom Wins

At the presentation it was revealed that Team Venom had won overall Champion Team for the second year running by only 140 points, which is equivalent to 14cm in total length. Over the 26 biggest fish they landed (10 golden perch, 10 bass and 6 Murray cod), 14cm is not a lot of margin per fish.

It also ended up that the top three teams were all within one legal fish of taking the win - as close a finish as the Masters has had for a few years.

To add to this great finish, it was also revealed that Stephen Booth had come in second place for Champion Angler behind gun freshwater angler Mitchell Skeers. A great personal achievement for Stephen showing his all-round freshwater fishing abilities.

Check out the full results in the tables hereabouts.

Fact Box

The Australian Freshwater Masters is an event that pits teams of two anglers against other teams in a three round series. Points are allocated at 1 point per millimetre of legal fish. For example, a 458mm golden perch will receive 458 points. Teams measure in their top 10 fish to accumulate a total team score per round, while individuals measure in their top 5 fish for the Overall Champion Angler section per round.

The event visits Lake Windamere near Mudgee for the golden perch round, Lake Glenbawn near Scone for Australian bass and the final leg is at Lake Mulwala on the border towns of Yarrawonga/Mulwala for the Murray cod round. Three iconic freshwater species in three iconic freshwater lakes.

If you're interested in participating at this event, contact the organisers via their Facebook page:


Top 10 Teams

Position Team Windamere Glenbawn Mulwala Total
1 Team Venom (Shane and Stephen) 5621 3947 3681 13249
2 Jigheads (Brad and Mitch) 5404 3418 4286 13108
3 Mines Bigger (Aaron and Corey) 5246 3840 3675 12761
4 MLC (Peter and Duncan) 5190 3540 3754 12484
5 Woodonga Caravan and Cabin Park (Corey and Ben) 5205 4025 1155 10385
6 Team Dog House (Scott and Joel) 5672 3743 581 9996
7 Skeeton (Scott and Glen) 5225 4037 640 9902
8 Gottcha (Michael and Andy) 5780 3882 0 9662
9 Make Eyewear (Murray and Mark) 5327 3530 583 9440
10 Avid Anglers (Chris and Frank) 2552 3638 3210 9400

Top 10 Individual

Position Angler Windamere Glenbawn Mulwala Total
1 Mitchel Skeers 2625 1819 3102 7546
2 Stephen Booth 2797 2033 2569 7399
3 Aaron Graham 2621 1915 2402 6938
4 Duncan Eddington 2305 1716 2493 6514
5 Ben Faro 2670 2030 1155 5855
6 Shane Banks 2818 1914 1112 5844
7 Corey Hohnberg 2625 1923 1273 5821
8 Peter Kerr 2702 1822 1261 5785
9 Chris Bird 950 1883 2640 5473
10 Scott Hartley 2895 1933 581 5409

Team Shuffle Round by Round

Position Team Position After Each Round
1 Team Venom (Stephen and Shane) 3, 2, 1
2 Jigheads (Brad and Mitchel) 4, 8, 2
3 Mines Bigger (Aaron and Corey 6, 6, 3
4 MLC (Peter and Duncan) 9, 9, 4
5 Wodonga Caravan and Cabin Park (Corey and Ben) 8, 5, 5
6 Team Dog House (Scott and Joel) 2, 3, 6
7 Skeeten (Scott and Glen) 7, 4, 7
8 Gottcha (Michael and Andy) 1, 1, 8
9 Mako Eyewear (Murray and Mark) 5, 7, 9
10 Avid Anglers (Chris and Frank) 10, 10, 10


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