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Region V 2016 Bass Tournament, Nandoni Dam, Limpopo Province, South Africa.

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After a defeat at the hands of South Africa in 2015, the Zimababwe National Bass Team was out to make amends in 2016. After the announcement of the team early in the year, preparations began for the team to participate in the competition on June 12-18. South Africa hosted Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Namibia at Nondoni Dam.

Each country would put forward a thirteen-man team, including a reserve, fishing out of six boats. Each boat would be required to catch and keep alive their five biggest fish each day for the three tournament days. The combined weight of the six boats would make up the points for each country. The country with the highest points after three days would be crowned the winner.

The two practice days prior to the tournament would prove to be vital to each team's success. The National team put their time to good use and were able to secure two patterns that would separate us from the other competitors.

The first pattern proved to be the winning pattern. In practice, the team identified one of the rivers having fresh water flowing into it. The banks of this river were covered with a grass matting that sat on top of the water, providing the only overhead cover for the bass in the whole dam. This was due to receding water levels as the dam was at roughly 60% capacity. The fresh water was the attractant and the grass provided the homestead of the quality fish required to win the tournament. The fresh water also meant that the area would reload overnight, which was crucial to the pattern holding out for three days. The grass was pitched with a Dean Rojas Fighting frog on 15lb fluorocarbon line with a 1/4 to 1/2 ounce tungsten weight, depending on how thick the patch of grass was. The second pattern was more of a finesse presentation, a total contrast to the first. On day two of practice, the team identified smaller but larger numbers of fish holding close to small brush in the shallows near the mouth of the main river. This proved to be the go-to pattern on day three, where the team required numbers of fish over quality in order to secure the victory. The brush was fished with weightless five and six inch Gary Yamamoto Senkos. These were cast extremely shallow, 1-2 foot of water, where the bass were coming up to feed on the smaller bait fish residing in the shallows.

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Once the game plans were identified, it was on to the tournament. Day one proved to be very close between Zimbabwe and South Africa, with only 470g between the two teams, but there was a clear difference in the quality of fish brought to the scales. South Africa had slightly better numbers, but Zimbabwe had the weight of bigger fish. The biggest bag came from a Mozambique boat earning 8.52 points.

Day two got off to a good start, with the team feeling confident as a result of the previous day's results. Knowing South Africa was close on our heels, we knew we had to boat all our fish and there was very little room for error. Day two proved to be the separating day, as the team stuck to its guns and came through winning the day with Zambia coming a close second and South Africa third. This meant we had put some distance between ourselves and South Africa, yet Zambia had now entered the race for the title.

It was a nervous day three start, but the team knew what needed to be done; between us we needed to catch twenty weighers regardless of size and the other teams would not be able to catch us up. And so the countdown began. Throughout the morning, we slowly ate away at the target. As each team reported their catches, our confidence grew as we eventually achieved and passed the target. A total of 23 fish were weighed between the team, Zimbabwe won the day and overall tournament.

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Consistency was the key, as our team was the only one to produce the same results for three consecutive days. This was achieved through team confidence and every member, on and off the water, performing to their best.

Events such as these cannot take place without the work and support of the people around us. The Zimababwe National Team would like to thank all its sponsors, Evolution Insurance, Zimnat Lion, Yamaha Marine Centre, N Richards and Health International for their support. We would also like to thank our wives and families for their support in allowing us the time away from home. Fitness Jenneration, for their support and help in the team building done prior to the tournament. We would also like to thank SABA for hosting the tournament in very difficult conditions.

In 2017, the Region V Tournament will be hosted here in Zimbabwe, and the team looks forward to defending its title. A
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Title Annotation:Competition Comment
Author:Orphanides, Strati
Publication:African Fisherman
Geographic Code:6ZIMB
Date:Aug 1, 2016
Words:842
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