By ~ Sean White
Imagine if you can, it’s Christmas Eve, and you can’t sleep. You’ve known that tomorrow would arrive since last year. You’ve re-spooled all your cookies, and packed your wish list of various baits and lures. You can get the present you want, but you’re gonna have to fight roughly 126 other dudes first.
South Eastern Bass Open is coming, to town.
Saturday October 6th marked the last event for South Eastern Bass open in 2012. Time to name Angler(s) of the Year for 2012!
Consistency, nice theory, right?
Early observation proved true in the end, a pattern emerged immediately in the first events of 2012… “The chemistry between team members appears to be paying off large. And this will prove critical at the end of the season for Angler Of The Year 2012.” ~ Militant Outdoors “SEBO on Rideau River” article
Well shit, who would’a thunk it?
Anglers that fish together consistently will win together most often, it just makes sense. To quote a certain pair of 2012 SEBO Anglers of the Year (yes, both), “We have been fishing for over 50 years combined experience.”
Jason Kluver and Barry Thompson got an early lead, finishing the first couple of events with 11 points tallied. Andrew Murdock and Chuck Dobson had just 4 points in the same time and John Horton added his first 6 points after taking 2nd place in the second event of the year held on Rideau River (Taylor Park). This particular event saw a 2, 3, 4 (2nd place John Horton & Rick Boyer, 3rd place Kluver & Barry Thompson, 4th place Murdock & Dobson) finish for the three teams.
In the following two events, Murdock & Dobson earned an additional 11 points with a 4th place on White Lake, and then a 1st place finish two weeks later on Mississippi Lake. They were looking to increase their lead, without a doubt, already with their sights set on the final stretch of the season. When asked, Chuck admitted, when he and Andrew fish, they fish to win, but they always try to keep things in perspective, “Our motivation is to have fun. This is an expensive hobby and I don't ever want to turn it into a chore. Win or lose, fish or not, we both enjoy fishing and each others company. Our wives are good friends and we all spend a lot of time together. So, in the grand scheme, winning or losing isn't that important. Having said that, YES, we swing for the fences at every event!”
During the mid-season stretch, John Horton re-asserted his contention for AOY, and his knack for cashing some cheques as well. In this the 5th event on the Ottawa River. Horton grabbed a 2nd place finish, followed by a 1st place finish in the next event on Muskrat Lake, keeping his hopes of a title shot alive.
August 12th, Clayton Lake Ontario
As though it were some kind of strange witchcraft, the top 3 teams of the event and the Big Fish prize apparently required team members be related. Mike Butler and Bill Butler (1st), Matt Harps and Ryan Harps (2nd), Rick Dolgowicz and Mike dolgowicz(3rd), and Big Fish? Jim Patrois and Sean Patrois with a 5.19 pounder that only added some sting to the Harps brothers’ narrow 2nd place finish and second Big Fish prize, for both they were edged out by only a slim margin. No points were posted by the three major contending teams however. Horton, Kluver & Thompson didn’t fish. Murdoch & Dobson did, but finished a frustrating 28th, so no change in the top three of the points series… for now.
Kluver & Thompson were fighting back by the season’s eighth event held on Rideau River (Kilmarnock) after not posting any points in the past 5 events. They added a point to their season in Kilmarnock, but Murdock & Dobson nailed a 1st place in this same event, propelling them ahead in the points standings. This left just 2 events remaining for the season; St. Lawrence River September 2nd and Rideau River October 6th. Kluver & Thompson were now sitting at 12 points, John Horton with 19 points and Murdock & Thompson with 22 points. Again… 2 events remaining…
The 2nd last event held on the St. Lawrence was all Kluver & Thompson. A 1st place finish, Big Fish prize, and 7 points. You want to see a couple guys smiling after 8 hours in a boat, this was it… And then, as an added bonus, Murdoch & Thompson didn’t add any points to their season and John Horton didn’t fish. The standings were now neck and neck; Kluver & Thompson 19 points, John Horton 19 points, Murdock & Dobson 22 points… with one event to go.
Militant Outdoors spoke briefly with Jason Kluver prior to the final event of the season, Rideau River (Taylor Park). Jason, for those who don’t know, is amongst one of the most intelligent and resourceful anglers out there. He shared with us that he and his partner Barry had no plan to pre-fish for the event, “…we’ll just let the fish tell us what to do.” In fact in previous discussion with Jason he expressed his belief that a lot of anglers tend to tie up only specific baits heading into an event or commit to a specific pattern which can predefine their state of mind or otherwise set expectations of the fish, not allowing anglers to be as flexible as they should be. Jason is a firm believer that anglers need to learn to adapt, and to be more open to figuring out current conditions and patterns as they unfold. Always an effective team, this final event would be the second tournament that Kluver & Thompson would fish out of Jason’s newly purchased Ranger 482VS, which Kluver laments, “It’s a tool, and only a tool,” also noting that it wouldn’t change anything about the team’s approach when compared to fishing out of Thompson’s rig.
We also had the opportunity to catch up with Chuck Dobson prior to the last 2012 event. When asked what he and Andrew have been up to during the short break from bass tournaments, and how they were preparing for the final push to potential AOY titles, Chuck shared, “We have been practicing since last week. Andrew knows “The Ditch” like no one else.” On the subject of preparation for tournaments, in particular the SEBO final with such a close points race, Chuck went on to say, “We try to locate a couple of good fish that we can go and get first thing. Usually some kind of structure, dock, log, rock, whatever ...Most of our prep involves fine tuning color and size, who bites what, and eliminating water …This weekend is special. We know that 4th or better gets us the TOY. Preparation of equipment will be meticulous. We know what we have to do, heads down, get to fun.”
Early October can bring some nasty weather in Eastern Ontario. October 6th 2012 was the typical mix bag of rain, wind, some sun in the early afternoon, and then big winds just in time for weigh in. On the water anglers were notably struggling to get their 5 fish. Many were finding numbers but nothing of size. In fact, of the 63 boat field, 23 teams didn’t weigh in. Due respect goes out to all anglers who found themselves out of reach of the points series coming into this event, but committed to getting out on the water. This simply shows your passion for your sport, and your desire to win. Competitive angling at its best.
And this season witnessed some serious wins... Consistency amongst the points leaders proved to have been critical, of course. But, interestingly, as we saw early in the season, top finishes came from those teams that paired all season. That is, with the exception of John Horton. John repeatedly continued to finish in top 3 in the middle of the season where other teams struggled. Fishing with only a couple of different partners over the season, he put the run on the points race staying in 2nd place between Kluver & Thompson, Murdoch & Dobson, a great run finishing 3rd in the points overall with 19…
Weights at the final event were not immediately posted on the event’s scoring display. Anglers were directed to return their catch immediately. Kluver & Thompson were one of the last to weigh in… so too were Murdoch & Dobson.
The crowd of competitors drew closer to the weigh station to see what the hell happened. Low spoken voices swirled from one competitor to the next as each kept mental notes on who had what.
Finally the announcement. Kluver & Thompson win the event… actually they smashed it wide open …Murdoch & Dobson? They finished 2nd place… meaning?
Murdoch & Dobson take the series as Anglers of the Year!
Congratulations go to Chuck Dobson and Andrew Murdoch on you’re earning the status of South Eastern Bass Open Champions! And Congratulations to Jason Kluver and Barry Thompson on your great season, and event win!
SEBO has a great prize package this year for South Eastern Bass Open Champion 2012 winners, consisting of a 1 year sponsorship through Towey’s Bait and Tackle with Canada Pro, prize money (of course), South Eastern Bass Open Champion jackets, and tournament jersey’s for next season. Great job guys! Outstanding season all!
In discussion with Chuck about tournament fishing he explained, “We try to figure out what weight we will need to get into the points/money. Don't care what this team or that is throwing or where. I don't mind getting beat; I'll be the first to offer congrats to the winners. I don't like losing, by that I mean getting beat by my own mistakes, lack of preparation or inattention to detail. Like any sport, as you get into top level competition, the winning edge gets finer, the details smaller and smaller. The guys that have the ability to deal with this come out on top, not all the time but way more often than the guys that don’t.” This is the mindset of a competition angler at the top of his game.
Militant Outdoors… … …What’s Your M.O.? TM