UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

Fritts crowned FLW champion

David Fritts shows off his first-place trophy to the crowd.

North Carolina native nets $100,000, records first FLW victory since 1997

CLEWISTON, Fla. - It was a long time coming for David Fritts.

Despite not landing in the FLW victory column since 1997, Fritts persevered through unseasonably cool weather, battled the frustrating conditions of Lake Okeechobee and outfoxed some of the nation's best anglers to capture the first Wal-Mart FLW Tour event of the year.

However, victory would not come easily. Clinging to a 4-pound lead over perennial powerhouse Kevin VanDam, Fritts watched in nervous anticipation as the Kalamazoo, Mich., native approached center stage with one fish left to weigh in. With no fish left in own his bag of tricks, Fritts could do nothing but watch VanDam thrust his fifth and final fish into the air and head to the scales.

But as it turned out, VanDam's fish was 15-ounces too small.

After a four-year drought, Fritts was crowned champion once again. Thrusting his own arms into the air, Fritts could hardly contain his joy.

"I really didn't think that I had enough to win," said the native of Lexington, N.C. "I don't know what to say. I haven't had this feeling since 1997."

Fritts, who had won three FLW tournaments in 1997 - including victories on Lake Eufaula and Kentucky Lake as well as the FLW Championship at Lake Ferguson - had not tasted victory in a long time. And it showed.

"It's a great feeling," he said. "Winning a championship never gets old."

Fritts recorded a final catch of 17 pounds primarily using crankbaits in the fickle but gracious waters of Lake Okeechobee.

"I knew the fish were out there," he said. "I threw a lot of crankbaits, but I also tried a little bit of everything over the last four days. I waited and I waited and it finally paid off."

VanDam, who fished strongly all tournament long, said that he did his best and was pleased with his performance even though it only netted him second place.

"I had the opportunities to do really well today, but as the water warmed up, the fish weren't hitting my baits as well as I would have liked," said VanDam, who netted a nice consolation prize in the amount of $35,000. "But that's the way it goes."

However, VanDam said that he did regret the few fish that got away.

"I was just losing too many fish today," said VanDam, who registered a final catch of 16 pounds, 1 ounce. "And against guys like this, you really have to make sure that you get your fish in the boat. Today, I didn't do that."

Kim Stricker of Howell, Mich., recorded a final catch of 12 pounds, 6 ounces - a mark good enough for third place and a check for $20,000.

"I just couldn't get that fifth bite today," he said. "But it's been a great tournament and Lake Okeechobee is a fantastic lake. I've had a lot of fun."

Mark Hardin of Canton, Ga., finished fourth with a final catch of 12 pounds, 6 ounces - losing a tiebreaker to Stricker based on the combined catch totals for days one and two.

"I'm really thrilled with how this week went," said Hardin, who scored a check for $16,000. "I was catching quality fish all week and I put every fish that bit today in my live well. I just couldn't get the big bites today."

Kelley Williamson, fishing in his first FLW tournament, finished in fifth place with a final catch of 4 pounds, 3 ounces.

"I'm just happy to be here," said Williamson, who won $14,000 for his efforts. "I just didn't have enough today. I had one spot that was working for me all week, but it just gave up on me today. I lost a lot of fish, but that's the way it goes."

The next stop on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour will be at D'Iberville, Miss., on the Pascagoula River Feb. 14-17.

Links:

Quick Bites: Day 4
Press release
Results
Photos


Tags: headline-story  gary-mortenson 

/news/2015-08-01-browne-sticks-to-the-bank-to-win

Browne Sticks To The Bank To Win

A lot would have had to happen for Glenn Browne to relinquish his hard-earned lead on the final day of the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Plano on Lake Champlain. It turned out that a lot did happen, but with help from his friends and a great pattern, Glenn Browne socked 18 pounds, 7 ounces on the final day for a 63-pound, 8-ounce total and a payday of $34,097 plus a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-hp outboard. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-01-champlain-midday-update-day-3

Champlain Midday Update Day 3

Day three of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain started with a beautiful sunrise and light rain that had tapered off by the beginning of takeoff. For leader Glenn Browne, the beauty was soon marred by a breakdown that occurred shortly into his run south. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-31-top-5-patterns-from-champlain-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Champlain Day 2

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Plano on Lake Champlain definitely shook up the leaderboard. While Glenn Browne took a huge lead, the rest of the pack swapped around and remained pretty tight. Browne is catching his fish down south near Ticonderoga, but the north end has also produced very well for the rest of the field. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-31-browne-crushes-again-leads-by-6-

Browne Crushes Again, Leads By 6+

Averaging 20 pounds or more is a difficult thing to do in a multi-day tournament on Lake Champlain, but Glenn Browne might be on his way to doing it in the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano. After two days, the Ocala, Fla., pro has run to Ticonderoga twice and sacked up nearly identical bags for a total of 45 pounds, 8 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-31-champlain-midday-update-day-2

Champlain Midday Update Day 2

While day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain was wracked by high winds and rain in the morning, day two has been almost as good as Champlain can be. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-30-cioppa-leads-on-champlain

Cioppa Leads On Champlain

David Cioppa of Hopkinton, Mass., weighed 22 pounds, 13 ounces late in the weigh-in to grab the lead after the first day of the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Champlain. Cioppa weighed all largemouths and says that he caught the entirety of his weight by about 9 a.m. from one location in the northern end of the lake. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-30-top-5-patterns-from-champlain-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Champlain Day 1

Lake Champlain was rough and wild on day one of the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Plano, and a bunch of the anglers still got it done in a big way. David Cioppa caught largemouths in the Inland Sea, but the rest of the top guys spread out all over the massive lake. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-30-champlain-midday-update-day-1

Champlain Midday Update Day 1

Takeoff was placid enough, with a beautiful sunrise and a light breeze in the slightly protected corner that is Plattsburgh. By about 6:30 a.m., day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain was already beginning to get rough. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-21-top-picks-from-icast

Top Picks From ICAST

A few days of walking the floor at ICAST is enough to exhaust a body, but it isn’t enough to know exactly what’s worthwhile. For that, you need some time to reflect and probably a few tournament seasons to fly by to see what rises up. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-renfrew-fished-to-win

Renfrew Fished to Win

Ian Renfrew of Phoenix, New York, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division tournament on Oneida Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Renfrew earned $4,695. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-docks-and-rocks-key-for-synders

Docks and Rocks Key for Synders

Rus Snyders of Nashville, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Music City Division tournament on Old Hickory Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Snyders earned $2,703. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-jig-crankbait-carry-powroznik

Jig, Crankbait Carry Powroznik

Ryan Powroznik of Prince George, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 15 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Piedmont Division tournament on the James River. For his victory, Powroznik earned $7,507. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-persistence-pays-for-arning

Persistence Pays for Arning

Ray Arning Jr. of Walnut Hill, Illinois, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Illini Division tournament on Rend Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Arning earned $5,804. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-17-new-rod-roundup

New Rod Roundup

Rod companies continue to impress each year with a new crop of lighter, faster and more affordable (sweet!) rods. On the subject of price, these days, a tournament pro or an average angler could be fishing with rods that cost less than $100 apiece, but without giving up anything in the realm of quality. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-17-new-terminal-tackle

New Terminal Tackle

Don’t skimp where it counts the most – terminal tackle. Hooks, weights, jigheads and the like are the keys to taking all those new soft baits and swimbaits to the fish, hooking them and getting them in the boat. Here’s the best stuff we saw on the floor at ICAST 2015. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-flw-announces-2016-tour-schedule

FLW Announces 2016 Tour Schedule

FLW announced the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour regular-season schedule today in a live press conference held at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando, Fla. With the help of six veteran Tour pros, the company unveiled each of the six events, one-by-one, to a crowd of observers gathered around the FLW booth. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-6-new-reels-to-try

6 New Reels to Try

Whether you need to replace an old reel or you’re just looking to add to the arsenal, here are some of the latest and greatest from ICAST. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-6-new-lines-from-icast-2015

6 New Lines from ICAST 2015

Line might just be the most important part of the package when it comes to landing fish. From presenting the bait to getting them in the net, your line is involved the entire way. If you’re looking for something new to try, the following lines are worth a shot. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-icast-best-of-show-winners-

ICAST Best Of Show Winners

One of the highlights of ICAST is the annual “Best of Show” awards. Not everything at ICAST is of interest to bass anglers, but the below might end up being staples for a long time to come. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-10-new-frogs-and-toads

10 New Frogs and Toads

These days, frogs and toads aren’t just mimicking frogs and toads. They’re designed to be perfect imitations of rats, bream and various oddball creatures. New models at ICAST this season offer anglers some of these “alternative” species, as well as new sizes, colors, action types and degrees of realism. Here are 10 new models that we feel are of greatest interest. Click here for complete 2015 ICAST coverage. READ MORE »