Spotters Richmond River BASS Pro- Results, Interview and Story


Captain Kris Crushes Em’

Taree’s Kris Hickson weighed the only full limit of Richmond River bass to claim victory in the Spotters Sunglasses presented BASS Pro event – the first ABT BASS event to run in a river system. Hickson is currently the #1 ranked BREAM angler in the country, and he could well be on the way to becoming the first angler in ABT history to be ranked #1 in both species at the same time.

Tim Morgan has been #1 in both species, but never held the titles simultaneously.
Hickson piled on 12/12 fish throughout the weekend to take the win by over two kilos from local favourite, Ballina’s Adrian Melchior.
After struggling to work out a solid pattern on the official pre-fish day, Hickson turned to his BREAMing roots, diving into his bag of tricks from years of experience catching bass on the tidal waters of the nearby Clarence River.
“The only rivers I’ve ever fished run one way, and that’s out” said Hickson. Referencing his time spent on the local Manning river usually via his Hobie Kayak.

“When I couldn’t really find anything on the morning of the pre-fish, I ran down river from Coraki and basically started doing the stuff I do on the Clarence, where we catch bass as by-catch chasing bream.”
The approach worked almost immediately, with Hickson boating a number of bass in the afternoon.
Morning of Day 1 saw Hickson start off in third position. Being up the top he chose to make a start on the town bridge Coraki, and it paid off with a nice bass just as the last boat went past.

From there, Hickson worked his way down river fishing grassy, natural banks, amassing a 4/4 limit with non-boater Tony Neal to have him sitting in first place after day one.
Hickson turned to what he considers and under-utilized product for bass, from one of his sponsors, TT lures.

“I used the TT Rev Head and I rigged it with a soft plastic. The difference was how I rigged it. The vegetation was so dense and the fish were really in the thick of it, so I had to rig the plastic weedless,” explained Hickson. The rig slightly resembles what you’d see on the end of Carl Jocumsen’s line when he’s punching mats for largemouth, except the weight and hook are one item, unlike the sliding bullet weight and straight shank hook.

The Rev Head features a small spinning blade slung underneath the main jighead and Kris was adamant that was the big difference in drawing strikes. “They definitely seemed to want the bladed baits, I missed fish on an Imakatsu Shakey Chatter on pre-fish, and a normal jighead rigged plastic didn’t seem to get the same attention. So the only thing I could put it down to was the extra flash put off by the blade.”

Day 2 saw Hickson return to his milk run of spots and he and non-boater David Simmons filled their bag fairly quickly. “We worked really well as a team” said Simmons. “I’d work the more active fish on the edge of the bank with an OSP High Pitcher spinnerbait, while Kris was punching his plastic/rev head combo into the thick of it.”

This style of heavy cover ‘punching’ hasn’t featured in a BASS Pro win yet, and it’s because of the move into rivers that has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for anglers and manufacturers alike.

Hickson mainly used two combos throughout the whole tournament, a Daiwa Black Label 701MLXS paired with a Caldia SHA 2500, and a Silverwolf Zantetsu 681MLXS paired with the matching 2500 reel. He spooled the reels with Daiwa Evo 8 braid with 10lb leaders.

With the win, Hickson pocketed $2200 and has moved to second position in the Bassman BASS Pro AOY race.

Melchior Settles for Second

Local gun Adrian Melchior came into the event as the hot favourite. Having won the ABT Richmond River trial event in October 2015, Melchior was always expected to do well. However, his first session failed to live up to the hype.
“I started downriver around Woodburn and really struggled” explained Melchior. “I had a backup spot up the Wilson River, but I’d run too far and committed myself down river.” Melchior started slowly, finishing the first session with only one fish and lagging in 19th place.
Choosing to weigh the one fish in early to maximize the afternoon session, Melchior ran the opposite direction up the Wilson River almost all the way to Lismore before pulling up and starting to fish. “There was a lot of boat traffic in the Wilson, and that had muddied up some of the banks, so I just kept driving until there was no more boats” explained Melchior.
Melchior put on a power fishing 101 course, diving into his collection of Bassman Spinnerbaits and choosing a 1/2oz Bassman TW in colour #25. He customized the bait with downsized blades so that the lure would run deeper in the water column.

“I actually flattened my electric motor batteries on Saturday, I’ve never done that before” said Melchior. Choosing to fish fast and target the more active fish, rather than picking apart each piece of structure on the river. It was textbook power fishing, with Melchior and his non-boater catching fish quickly and easily, even having a double hook-up at one stage.
Day 2 started and Melchior returned to his honey hole up the Wilson River, quickly starting where he’d left off on Saturday.
Although the bigger fish from Saturday afternoon eluded him on Sunday, he still weighed enough to overtake young gun Joseph Urquhart and claim second place and the $1200 cheque that went with it.
Melchior relied on baitcasting tackle to deliver the bait accurately along the snaggy banks of the Wilson, reaching for a new Samurai Infinite B16-F66 rod paired with a Daiwa Steez 103. He filled the spool with Unitika 18lb braid and chose to run 12lb Unitika fluorocarbon leader for the entire weekend.
Melchior thanked long time sponsors Frogley’s Offshore, Bassman Spinnerbaits and Ballina Marine Land for their continued support.


Tony Neal wins two in a row

Tony Neal is making a habit of winning ABT BASS Pro events, as the NSW BASSer has taken his second victory in as many starts at the Spotters Richmond River BASS Pro. Tony fished with event champion Kris Hickson and Tom Slater throughout the weekend, and piled on enough weight on day one, to hold onto top position despite weighing only one fish on Sunday.
Day 1 saw Tony paired with Hickson, and the pair targeted various spots down river from the event start at Coraki. All types of banks produced fish, from timber laden snag hotspots, to open grassy stretches, however it was the grassy stretches that proved most fruitful. Tony, like Hickson relied on a bladed jig head with a weed less rigged soft plastic to catch fish throughout Day 1.
On Day 2, Tony couldn’t replicate his winning technique and himself along with Slater struggled to stay connected to the bites they encountered. Towards the end of the session once the tide had risen, Tony managed a 780gram fish on a weed less rigged plastic and beetle spin combo.

Tony armed himself with his trusty Elite Industries 6-9lb rod by Gladiator Tackle, paired with a Gladiator Psyborg 2000 reel. He spooled up with 10lb Super PE and tied on 8, 12 and 20lb Sunline FC Rock leader throughout different stages of the weekend.
Tony’s not going to be left in need of any product anytime soon, taking home a second swag bag full of staple bass tackle thanks to major sponsor Bassman Spinnerbaits. With two first place finishes from as many events to start his 2016 campaign, Tony is in the hot seat to dethrone current Bassman AOY leader Aimee Thompson if he makes the road trip north to Boondooma Dam in July to attend the final round of the season. “You bet I’m going to come to the final round, I’ve already spoken to my wife about the trip, with two wins from two starts there’s no better opportunity to win than this year, so I’ll be there with bells on!”

Tony thanked his long time sponsors Gladiator Tackle, Barz Optics and Haswing Marine for their support throughout the year.

Austackle Big Bass

The Austackle Big Bass was caught by Steve Kanowski on day 2. Kanowski caught the 1.32kg kicker of a single small stick on the bank of the Richmond River. The lure of choice was a Smak 1/2oz spinnerbait in a blue/purple/pink colour. His gear of choice was a long 7ft baitcast rod, paired with an Abu Revo Premier reel spooled with 15lb Spiderwire Stealth braid and topped with a 15lb Stren fluorocarbon leader.

OSP Rookie Reward
Paul Vandenboom claimed the OSP Rookie Award courtesy of his 4th place finish in the non-boater section. Vandenboom totaled up 8/12 for 4.87kg to edge out Dom Jordon by 50grams. Vandenboom will take home a great selection of some of the hottest baits on the ABT tour courtesy of OSP and FishTec Solutions.
Aimee Thompson has taken the lead in the Edge Rods Rookie of the Year race, with the winner at the end of round 4 taking home an Edge First Strike rod valued over $500.

Winning Ways
Hickson turned to his BREAMing roots to identify a winning pattern. After failing to make the techniques he’d hoped to use work in the official pre-fish, Hickson went back to basics and ran down river to find less pressured fish hiding amongst heavy cover on the river bank. Rigging his plastics weed less on a TT Rev Head was the key tackle modification.

“The Rev Heads are a standard shaped hook, so to rig a plastic weed less on them you need to nose hook it and then come back through the body so the plastic sits on a slight angle,” he concluded.

BASS Pro: Spotters Richmond River BASS Pro Boater Results

PlaceAnglerStateSession 1WeightSession 2WeightSession 3WeightTotal FishTotal WeightPayout
1Kristoffer HICKSONNSW42.8142.3243.57128.7$2200 + Duffrods Big Bag
2Adrian MELCHIORNSW10.8143.5142.4796.791200
3Joseph URQUHARTQLD42.7431.7342.13116.6975
4Daniel BROWNNSW22.2421.1121.664.95725
5Paul GILLESPIENSW21.5743.2864.85550
6Daniel CLANCYNSW21.3721.1332.0474.54
7Mark LENNOXNSW42.4931.9374.42
8Brian EVERINGHAMNSW32.1531.9864.13
9Mitchell CONENSW10.8142.1511.164.06
10Stephen KANOWSKIQLD0010.7232.8143.53$500 Austackle Big Bass
11Craig SIMMONSQLD31.7810.7810.5853.14
12Shaun FALKENHAGENQld0021.3321.642.93
13Michael THOMPSONQLD31.6821.1652.84
14David YOUNGQLD21.1410.7610.5842.48
15Alex ROYQLD32.03010.4442.47
16Tom SLATERQLD10.5911.0110.7832.38
17Wayne ROBINSONNSW0021.5621.56
18Peter PHELPSNSW0010.8510.5521.4
19Tony THORLEYNSW10.6710.4321.1
20Warren CARTERVic10.4910.60021.09
21Joe ALLANQLD10.5110.4820.99
22Malcolm STEWARTNSW0010.8710.87
23Dan MALLORYQLD0010.7710.77
24Steve ELDREDQLD10.7310.73
25Malcolm DRAPERNSW0010.410.4
26Peter LEGGETTQld0000

BASS Pro: Spotters Richmond River BASS Pro NonBoater Results

PlaceAnglerStateSession 1WeightSession 2WeightSession 3WeightTotal FishTotal WeightPayout
1Tony NEALNSW42.8142.3210.7895.91Bassman Prize Pack
2David SIMMONSQLD10.5911.0143.5765.1713 Fishing Rod & Prize Pack
3Matt CUSCHIERINSW10.8142.1531.9384.89Spotters Prize Pack
4Paul VANDENBOOMNSW42.7431.7310.484.87Spotters Prize Pack + OSP Rookie Reward
5Dom JORDANNSW31.6821.1631.9884.82Berkley Prize Pack
6Paul PIPERNSW10.8143.5154.32Austackle Fireblade Rod & Prize Pack
7Orton MARCHANTNSW0010.8543.2854.13Prize Pack
8David WELFARENSW22.2421.1110.7754.12Prize Pack
9Brett HYDENSW42.4911.153.59Prize Pack
10Brendan PIESCHELNSW10.5110.4842.4763.46Prize Pack
11Aimee THOMPSONQLD0010.4932.8143.3
12Aaron SWANSONNSW21.3721.1310.4352.93
13Peter MORGANQLD10.6732.0442.71
14Rod THOMPSON32.0310.5842.61
15Robert THORNTONQLD31.7810.7842.56
16Mark KINGNSW21.1410.7610.4442.34
17Leroy FINCHQLD0021.3310.8732.2
18Ben RANDELLQLD32.1532.15
19Peter KELLEHERNSW0042.1342.13
20Aiden KANENSW21.5710.5532.12
21Simon JOHNSONNSW0021.621.6
21Simon MARCHANTNSW0021.621.6
23James HICKSONNSW0021.5621.56
24Jason MARTINNSW0010.7210.621.32
25Luke DRAPERNSW10.7310.5821.31
26James REIDQLD0000

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