2017 Costa FLW Series Championship - Kentucky Lake, Tennessee
Henry Petersen, Wayne Louw, Michael Matthee
Costa FLW Series Championship
Kentucky Lake, Paris, Tennessee, November 2017
>> Hannes Lindeque, Jody White, Curtis Niedermier and Matt Pace
Following a very successful first official FLW South Africa Championship that took place at the Vaal River, Vanderbijlpark where one hundred of the best Cast-for-Cash anglers competed to see who the very first FLW South African Champions would be, our four FLW South Ambassadors eventually arrived at the 2017 Costa FLW Series Championship in the USA.
The annual Costa FLW Series Championship consists of top anglers from five U.S. and one International Division to advance to the Forrest Wood Cup based on their performances at the championship. In November 2017, 384 anglers from across the globe met on Kentucky Lake Tennessee to compete for huge prize money, two Ranger boats with Evinrude outboards, priority entry to the FLW Tour and ultimately for slots to the Forrest Wood Cup in 2018.
Each International partner has four slots (two pro- and two co-anglers) and our four FLW South Africa ambassadors were; Michael Matthee and Justy Varkevisser. The two co-anglers were Wayne Louw and Henry Petersen. They were joined by Gareth Dryden who participated in the FLW International Friendship Tournament.
Before the pre-tournament meeting on Wednesday all the international anglers visited FLW’s head office in Benton, Kentucky to strengthen FLW family ties and experience U.S. hospitality first hand.
The pre-tournament meeting later the day was held at the Events Centre in Paris, TN, which consisted of a “Costa Happy Hour”, registration and a buffet-style meal.
Pictures of all the anglers were taken and legends, like Roland Martin, were met in person. The atmosphere was great and everybody looked forward to compete.
Day-1: It was overcast with high winds and half meter waves. Due to low water levels anglers had to navigate their way through a complex water way following marker buoys showing the river channel. There was no way that one could quickly take short cut and shoot across shallow sand bars and hidden hill tops.
Day-2: We headed off to the launch ramp in heavy thundershowers. It was cold, wet and overcast.
Day-3: There was a fog delay, but once the anglers were on the water the weather was confusing. We saw the sun for fifteen minutes and encountered rain.
Day-1: Michael was in the first flight of the day. FLW USA supplied him with a Ranger boat fitted with a 250 Evinrude outboard and when we tried to follow him with the media boat he just disappeared from our sight. We caught up with him at his first stop, but soon lost track of him for the rest of the day. He managed to catch four fish weighing 11 pounds 9 ounces which gave him a good head start.
Day-2: With South Africa taking the lead in the International Division all eyes were on Michael. He continued to weigh four fish, 15 pounds 8 ounces, and finished 9th overall over two days. Being under the top ten he continued to fish on day three. Up for grabs were $50,000 and a Ranger Z518C with a 200-hp Evinrude outboard.
On day one Justy managed to weigh 3 fish (8 pounds 4 ounces). On day two he was in flight one and we followed him with the media boat but soon lost track of him. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find any keepers and was out of the race.
Wayne had a terrible day one. Wayne and Michael caught keepers during their pre-tournament practise, but fishing from the back of the boat as a co-angler, was very difficult. Wayne had to adapt to the pro-angler’s fishing style and things weren’t going well.
On day-2 Wayne had a new skipper and better luck. He managed to weigh a keeper weighing 1 pound 14 ounces.
On day-1 Henry’s boat had mechanical problems and he couldn’t make the weigh-in in time.
On day-2 while I was busy attending to my e-mails and admin, Henry suddenly showed up at 10 o’clock. Either I was seeing his twin brother (that he doesn’t have), or there was big trouble for him to be off the water.
“I was disqualified for bad sportsmanship”, he said.
I nearly had a stroke!
“No - my partner had a heart attack and was evacuated to hospital”, he replied.
What a disappointment. What are the odds of having two bad days in a row! Travelling this far and after all the effort he has put in, only to see how his dream slips away was enough to make my stomach turn…
At least he still had one opportunity and that was to compete in the International Friendship Tournament on day three.
Eventually Henry’s luck turned and he managed to land the one and only fish on day three to win the FLW International Friendship Tournament. For this he and Wayne received trophies from FLW.
Was it easy?
The fishing was downright bad for most in the 2017 Costa FLW Series Championship on Kentucky Lake. Instead of a strong topwater bite or a taste of the winter umbrella rig bite, most of the top finishers – outside of tournament-winner Bradford Beavers – had to scramble around and fish odd patterns or do a little bit of everything. Out of 192 boats, only seven pros limited each of the first two days, and only Beavers managed three limits in a row.
Many of the local pro-anglers fishing on home water didn’t weigh any fish. In total only seven pros limited each of the first two days. If Michael didn’t drop his kicker on day two, he also would have managed to weigh in a limit.
“It is an incredible accomplishment that Michael won the International Division at the Costa FLW Series Championship and became the first international angler to also make the top-ten”, said Vice President of Operations, Dave Washburn.
Thank you to our tournament partners; Garmin South Africa, Arma Juris, SA BASS magazine, Yamaha Distributors and Hillbilly Poisen, who made this historic opportunity possible.
FLW South Africa would also like to thank FLW USA and all the FLW international partners for making the 2017 Costa FLW Series Championship an unforgettable experience. In particular a special word of appreciation towards FLW USA for all their effort in presenting an international event of this magnitude and spoiling our anglers with various mementos.
SA BASS magazine and the Cast-for-Cash Tournament Trial offer the same opportunity that Michael, Wayne, Justy and Henry just had, to all our anglers. Anglers qualify through the monthly Cast-for-Cash tournaments in six regions to fish the FLW South Africa Championships from where the top four anglers get priority entry to the Costa FLW Series Championship.
Every year four South African anglers will represent FLW South Africa at the Costa FLW Series Championship in the USA. Who will be our next FLW SA Champions?
*Hannes Lindeque is the founder and publisher of SA BASS magazine since 2001, the tournament director of the SA BASS Cast-for-Cash bass angling tournament trial and FLW South Africa.
SA BASS magazine