If I were a BETTING man

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If I were a BETTING man

Leisure Boating takes a closer look at the exciting B.E.T.T. for all our bass-loving readers.
For those of our readers who can’t get enough of a fishing fix, it’s time to head inshore and check out the Bass Equalizer Tournament Trail (B.E.T.T.) which provides anglers with ample opportunities to bag some big bass!

The B.E.T.T. was introduced in 2005 by Lionel Botha, with the intention of launching a professionally organized and executed bass tournament circuit. Lionel emigrated to the US in 2009 while Warwick Brown, co-owner of RAW and director of the B.E.T.T. show since 2008, has taken on an active role together with his team in assisting with the smooth running of the tournament while producing the B.E.T.T. show. Since 2008 there have been 51 premiere broadcasts of the Bass Equalizer Tournament Trail on Supersport
The initial idea was to start a monthly competition at a variety of venues in Gauteng, managed by anglers with international experience and governed by a set of rules. However, the competition showed substantial growth in popularity and subsequently expanded to include KwaZulu-Natal. In 2006 the average participation per event was 30 boats – 60 anglers – as it is a team event; in 2012 there are 60 teams (120 anglers) competing per event in Gauteng and on average 264 anglers per KZN event as they permit day entries as well as preregistered teams.

In organizing the B.E.T.T., the founders’ aim was to unite the South African bass angling fraternity; to encourage juniors, women and family participation; to expand the sport of bass fishing in SA; to conserve the fishing resources by implementing the catch-and-release system; and to create a professional fishing environment and platform for tournament anglers. In 2012 there is an event every month from January through October and all events are televised on Supersport. The B.E.T.T. is a monthly catch and release bass fishing tournament and dead fish are penalised! Competitors have nine hours to catch the heaviest collective five-fish limit, constantly looking to improve their weights. There will be nine qualifying tournaments, eight of which scores will count towards qualification for the combined final (between GP and KZN anglers) or the ‘Classic’ at Albert Falls Dam.

Just 13 teams will qualify for the Classic: the top 10 teams, 25th position, 35th position and one Wildcard draw. Some of the venues on the Gauteng trail include Rust de Winter, Renosterkop, Makolo, Bronkhorstspruit, Roodekopjes, Arabie, Witbank and Nandoni. Bass abundant B.E.T.T venues in KZN include Inanda, Sterkfontein, Goedetrou, Woodstock, Midmar and Albert Falls.

This year the Gauteng anglers fished a venue that has never before featured on the B.E.T.T. trail when the May 2012 venue was changed from Rust de Winter to Roodekopjes Dam in order for Rust de Winter to recharge its fish reserves. The Gautengers were apprehensive of the new venue as they have never fished it before, and were even more hesitant after the practise sessions didn’t go all that swimmingly. Many of the anglers struggled during the event, but at least two teams managed to bag some big ones.

Allan Baker and Adrian van Vuuren of Team McCrystal Insurance 2 was one such team. According to Baker, they did a lot of research regarding depth, temperature and potential fishing areas at Roodekopjes. They pre-fished a week before the event and discovered that the fish were congregating in river inlets, moving to between 25ft and 12ft breaks with rocks and trees. They also found that they were often successful with baits displaying red, most likely because the bass in Roodekopjes feed off red-breasted Kurper, or something similar. However, despite some good-sized fish landed by Team McCrystal, they were bested by Team Triton Mercury 2 who claimed top spot with 6.78 kg – 1.07 kg more than second placed Team McCrystal could manage on the day.

Meanwhile, in KZN, the guys fished a back-to-back event at Sterkfontein Dam at the end of March. This was to compensate for the fact that no event was to be held at the end of April due to the Inanda Dam Classic. Nevertheless, March 31st counted as the third leg on the trail and the next day, April 1st, as the fourth leg. Sterkfontein Dam is situated near the KwaZulu-Natal/Free State border and is South Africa’s third largest dam. It is known for its fantastic Yellowfish angling, while also boasting a healthy bass population. On the weekend of the back-to-back event, weather conditions were poor at Sterkfontein and anglers were having a tough time with stubborn bass refusing to be tricked by their lures.

On the second day the cloud cover lifted slightly, accompanied by a breeze causing small chop. Competitors hoped this would change their fortunes but the bass remained obstinate. Anglers knew that if results were to be based on the first day’s fishing, average bag weights would be a little over 2 kg and they were therefore gunning for that one elusive big one to put them in the prizes. Neville Reis and Brian Dimock of Team Dubmar Manufacturing managed just that, and with a bag weight of 3.46 kg they secured first place along with their first podium finish of the year. Grant Hewitt and Andrew Read of Team Ruffthumb Skov took second place with a bag weight of a mere 345 grams less than that of the winners.

When asked if the tournament is helping to grow the sport of bass fishing in South Africa, Brown responded: “Most certainly. I base my answer on the amount of new faces that join the circuit year by year – anglers from different fishing facets are trying their hands at Bass angling. More importantly, the amount of juniors who have joined the circuit indicates that the sport has new blood entering the competitive arena every season.” Warwick believes the fast growing popularity of the tournament is largely due to the exposure the show is getting from Supersport. “Feedback from the competitors also suggests the shows are well received by the public, as they are recognized from time to time and stopped by the public while frequenting public places.” “We hope to continue the development of the sport together with the television show and we at RAW have some exciting plans up our sleeves for the 2013 season. Watch this space.” If bass fishing is your thing, the B.E.T.T. is for you! The tournament is open to everyone and a fee of R600 is payable monthly or per event.

Visit or their Facebook page for competition rules and more details. Also, don’t forget to catch exciting video trailers of the various events that are to be televised on Supersport 6.


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