If we thought June was busy, we were about to become a little more educated about how much you can actually cram into a month! July was absolutely BUMPER for us, with thousands upon thousands of kilometres of Aussie terrain put under our wheels, boat and ’yak.

Jo Starling with her 1.91kg bag during the final session of the Native Watercraft BASS Australia Nation Kayak Round at Lake MacDonald, QLD.
This 1.91kg bag was the heaviest of the last day of the Native Watercraft BASS Australia Nation Kayak Round at Lake MacDonald, QLD.

Many of you probably know that Jo’s been bitten by the bass bug in a big way. It all started when she fished her first BASS Australia Nation kayak round for Native Watercraft. That event in March launched an addiction that’s proving hard to shake!

It’s the challenge of doing everything solo! From the long-haul drives across the country (nine hours has been my shortest one-way jaunt yet), to coming up with a strategy for a brand-new location, to fishing in competition with some of the countries best kayak anglers. It’s all on me… and I’m loving it!

Jo fished the second-last round for 2017 on Lake MacDonald, on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and we all travelled up together for this one.

On the way, we had a lazy stop-over at our mate’s place near Coffs Harbour, none other than Scott Amon of FishLife magazine fame. Steve snuck out for a sneaky fish off the rocks while Jo slaved away over some design work she had on. What do you know? Steve achieved a life-long dream of catching a jewie off the rocks! And not just any jewie… Check it out!

Starlo with his first ever jewie off the rocks
Starlo with his first-ever jewie off the rocks.
Jo's 42cm pre-fish bass gave her confidence
This 42cm bass was one of two Jo caught during her shortened pre-fish, giving her great confidence.

Another day’s drive saw us on the Sunshine Coast, just in time for a look at Lake MacDonald for the BASS Australia Nation kayak round. Jo’s tournament didn’t start out as planned. She had a truncated pre-fish, having busted a rudder cable on her kayak as we unloaded it from the roof-rack. Fortunately, fellow Native Watercraft team member, Ben Faro had a spare! It’s also fortunate that it happened on pre-fish day and not during the tournament! There’s always a silver lining… Jo’s pretty chuffed that she now knows how to change her rudder cable.

Two hours on the lake for pre-fish gave Jo a pretty good idea of what she wanted to do for the comp. With two good fish, she was quietly confident.

Oh, how a night can change fortunes! The weather turned sunny and glorious… and the fishing changed. Whilst many anglers were whoopin’, hollerin’ and upgradin’, Jo was struggling. The change in conditions didn’t play into her hands at all and she only weighed a tiny little squeaker in the first session and NOTHING in the second.

Start at dawn. Jo's toes show her anticipation.
Jo’s toes show her anticipation as the sun rises for the dawn start of the Lake MacDonald round.
Jo Starling fishing from a standing position from her Native Watercraft Slayer 13 Propel kayak. A return to her original strategy, with a few sneaky change-ups, put Jo back amongst the fish on Day Two.
A return to her original strategy, with a few sneaky change-ups, put Jo back amongst the fish on Day Two.

Jo concedes that she let the changing conditions get to her and the varying tactics of other anglers got inside her head.

My biggest mistake was second-guessing myself.

After a big rethink, she went back to her own strategies, but added a little “outside-the-box” thinking as well. The result saw Jo weigh in the biggest bag for day two (and her first-ever complete bag in these tournaments) and leap from 23rd to 12th position for the round! She also up to the same position nationally as she prepares for the final round at Lake Moogerah in August.

 

Jo enjoys weighing in her first-ever two fish bag at 1.91 kilos
Jo enjoys weighing in her first-ever two fish bag at 1.91 kilos.
steve starling interviews Champion angler felippe gapsky and runner-up allan britcliffe at the Smak Lures Round of the BASS Australia Nation Kayak Round, Lake MacDonald
Steve interviews Champion Angler Felippe Gapsky and Runner-up Allan Britcliffe at the Smak Lures Round of the BASS Australia Nation Kayak Rounds, Lake MacDonald.

 

 

Here’s the interview she gave after the round:

It really was a treat to travel together as a family for this round… the support was greatly appreciated. As we strapped up Jo’s Slayer 13 for the last timed though, we had to go our separate ways. Steve was off to Copeton Dam to catch up with good mate and fellow Mad Keen devotee, Glen Stewart—and to do a bit of filming.

starlo smiles murray cod fishflicks
Starlo is elated with this healthy Murray cod, caught for the cameras whilst filming for his new show on Fish Flicks. Image courtesy Glen Stewart © Glen Stewart.

You see, online fishing and outdoors channel, Fish Flicks has proposed that their first “Fish Flicks Original” show will be a series of fishing adventures with Steve! Where better to kick it off than at this picturesque dam chasing its famous inhabitants, the Murray cod?

Starlo talks to the camera about his favourite lures for catching Murray cod
Starlo talks to the camera about his favourite lures for catching Murray cod. Image courtesy Glen Stewart © Glen Stewart.

It proved gruelling and freezing, with the sea-deck on our lovely new boat proving very slippery under ice. But the trying conditions just made catching the fish even more satisfying. We can’t give too much away, but Starlo reckons the production values for the show are incredibly high and we are looking forward to watching the first episode.

Here’s a teaser for you…

Of course, our SFF gear is going to become super trendy once the show goes on air! Speaking of which, we were stoked to see folks wearing the SFF shirt when we were at the AFTA Trade Show at the end of the month! The Trade Show is an industry-only event, where wholesalers promote their wares to retailers. It’s satisfying to see that those who know their gear are choosing to wear ours.

Well, that’s it for July. August looks huge too, so we’ll catch you then!

KEEPING UP WITH THE STARLINGS : JULY 2017
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