NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia — Despite lacking largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass in its waters, Australia has become the newest international chapter to join the B.A.S.S. Nation.
“In Australia, we have multiple bodies of water that hold Australian bass [Macquaria novemaculeata], which are native to Australia and live in fresh water and move to the estuary systems to spawn through the winter,” said Drew McGrath, Australia B.A.S.S. Nation managing director.
“Their habits are a cross between a smallmouth and the spotted bass that you have in the States as they fight extremely hard for their size and tend to school offshore but move into the grassbeds and structure locations at other times of the year.”
McGrath noted Australian bass have a natural range of 1,300 miles from the Burnett River Systems on the southeast coast of Queensland to Wilson Promontory in Victoria. Fishing for the native bass “has been going on for as long as man has been here,” said McGrath. Catch-and-release tournaments similar to Bassmaster events have been going strong in Australia for 13 years.
“Fishing is part of our national psyche with more than 5 million regular participants, and two out of three people own fishing gear in Australia,” McGrath said.
“Bass fishing isn’t at the forefront of fishing within the Australian community, but with the B.A.S.S. Nation affiliation, we think we really have something to capture the imagination of the Australian people.”
Helping establish awareness of bass fishing in his home country has been Australian angler Carl Jocumsen, who finished fourth in the 2013 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open finale at Ross Barnett Reservoir.
“The amount of success he has had on the Bassmaster Open circuit has been big news in Australia in the fishing community and public arena,” said McGrath. “Watching Carl work his way around the U.S.A. and do so well was fantastic for the sport and industry in Australia and assured us that we have the quality anglers to represent Australia proudly.”
The Australia chapter will be placed in the B.A.S.S. Nation Southern Division, according to B.A.S.S. Nation Director Jon Stewart. “It will be a huge benefit to have Australia join the Nation, and I do believe that it will attract other countries wanting to be members,” Stewart said.
Most of the 10 Australian bass clubs are located in the highest populated area of New South Wales. The Australia Nation has 100 members with McGrath and Lauren Kelly (marketing director) serving as the Nation’s officers.
“Initially, we would like to represent Australia in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship for the first two years and progressively build our supply of vehicles and boats in the U.S. to support the full divisional team in year 3 or 4,” McGrath said.
In its first season, the Australia Nation plans to run a four-tournament series with a Grand Final to determine the individual to represent the country in the championship.
Australia is the ninth country in the B.A.S.S. Nation. Countries represented are the United States, Japan, Italy, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Zimbabwe and South Africa.