SA Bass

“I live and breathe just to catch fish,” says Michael Matthee.

Get to know FLW South Africa’s first Forrest Wood Cup qualifier

- >> George Robey

The 31-year-old is a longtime winner in the South African tournament circuits who has earned alpha status in his home country with a blend of undying determinat­ion, skill and versatilit­y. Look no further than his meteoric rise in the first ever sanctioned FLW South Africa fish-off.

Matthee and team mate Wayne Louw, swamped a field of 100 competitor­s to earn a berth in the Costa FLW Series Championsh­ip on Kentucky Lake in November, where he finished ninth overall and first in the Internatio­nal Division to qualify for the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Ouachita.

We wanted to learn more about Matthee and his prospects as a Cup competitor, so we assembled this list of 20 questions.

1. Where did you grow up? .

I’m from South Africa and grew up in Centurion.

2. How did you get started fishing?

My parents are from Zimbabwe, and I spent many holidays there with my grandparen­ts, fishing Kariba Dam, the Zambezi River, Darwendale and stayed often at my grandparen­t’s beautiful home on the banks of Lake Mazvikadei.

3. What types of fishing have you done in southern Africa?

Tiger fishing, deep-sea fishing, specimen carp fishing; those are some of my favourite fish species in southern Africa.

4. What inspires you about bass fishing?

From a very young age I was inspired by my grandfathe­r

Published with the express permission of FLW - USA and father. I spent most weekends on the water fishing with them and learning this fantastic sport. As I got older I spent time watching all the pros and following them in the magazines. The American pros inspired me to become a profession­al fisherman. South Africa is a beautiful country, and I have been blessed to travel throughout southern Africa and meet people that are as passionate as I am about fishing. All these interactio­ns inspire me.

5. What is your occupation?

I am currently a self-employed cabinetmak­er. I started my business before I left school in 2003, borrowed my dad’s van and tools to do installati­ons of cabinets, and earned enough money to buy my first machine. I started the business in my parents’ backyard, then moved to a very small rented factory. Today, 14 years later, I have my own much bigger factory with 30 employees. It’s hard work, but it allows me to go fishing every weekend, which is my biggest passion.

6. How does your business work ethic translate to fishing success?

My business is very discipline­d. I am proud of our product and our service, and I think this shows who I am and the way I approach fishing.

7. What or who caused you to focus on competitiv­e bass fishing?

My first introducti­on to competitiv­e fishing was as a junior. I earned my Protea Colours a few times. Then I left competitiv­e fishing to focus on my business. Eventually, I started with competitiv­e fishing when a friend’s father asked me to fish a local club tournament, and from that day forward I was hooked. Now, all I can think of is bass fishing.

8. How many tournament­s do you fish in South Africa in a year, and what are some of your biggest successes?

Without a doubt, qualifying to compete in the Costa FLW Series Championsh­ip through FLW South Africa is one of my greatest achievemen­ts. I am also proud to have earned both my South Africa Junior and Senior Protea Colours.

I fish a series of tournament circuits every year that keep me on the water most weekends, including, SABAA Divisional, SABAA Nationals, EBass, SA BASS Cast-forCash and FLW South Africa Gauteng Division.

9. What is your preferred method of bass fishing on your home waters?

Power fishing. Trolling motor on high, covering as much water as I can.

10. What were your top fishing strategies in Africa that enabled you to qualify for the Costa FLW Series Championsh­ip?

I fished completely different than the other competitor­s, always looking for something different. I like to show fish something different than what the other anglers are using. It was tough to qualify because South Africa has so many top-quality anglers.

11. What do you have to say about the trend toward internatio­nal competitio­n?

I joined FLW South Africa for the opportunit­y to fish in the USA. This was a lifelong dream of mine, and when I qualified my dream came true. It took me about a week to realize that I actually qualified to fish the Costa FLW Series Championsh­ip and compete against some of the world’s best anglers. Thanks to FLW, many internatio­nal anglers have been given the same opportunit­y. It’s a lifetime opportunit­y to fish the Costa FLW Series Championsh­ip with a chance to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup.

12. Was the championsh­ip your first trip to America?

It was my first trip to the USA.

13. After qualificat­ion, what was your preparatio­n plan? Was it difficult to make practice arrangemen­ts? And how much practice did you get?

I didn’t have much preparatio­n. Three days before I left for the USA I was fishing SABAA National Championsh­ip here in SA. I did a lot of internet research on Kentucky Lake and a lot of mapping homework. I only had three days practice, one day from a tinny (aluminium johnboat) up at Kenlake Marina and two days on a Ranger boat I borrowed from FLW.

14. Who are your heroes in the world of bass fishing? Did you get to meet any of them at the championsh­ip?

Denny Brauer, KVD, Gerald Swindle, JT Kenney and Bryan Thrift. I was very fortunate to meet Bryan.

15. What did you think of Kentucky Lake?

Wow. It’s massive. Completely different from any of our fisheries in South Africa. It’s an amazing Lake. I caught seven different species of fish.

16. What pattern did you develop, and how did it hold up during the tourney?

I developed two main patterns. Firstly, I targeted medium-depth water around 6 feet near schools of shad with a Zara Spook Jr. Secondly, I used an umbrella rig around deep bluffs and sand humps, covering lots of water,

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 ??  ?? Matthee - Photo By Jesse Schultz
Matthee - Photo By Jesse Schultz
 ??  ?? Matthee - Photo by D.Wreed
Matthee - Photo by D.Wreed

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