June 23, 2001 by Gary Mortenson
Arkansas native adds another chapter to his legendary status
DETROIT - Believe it or not, for all his great accomplishments in the sport of professional bass fishing, Larry Nixon had never won an FLW title. That is, until today. Bolstered by a sensational catch of 18 pounds, 2 ounces, Nixon used some veteran angling experience and a determined effort to capture first place in the Forrest Wood Open on Lake St. Clair. Not only did his achievement land him the first FLW win of his career, but he also walked away with a $200,000 check and some rousing applause from the fans who packed the arena to cheer him on.
Standing at the winner's podium with trophy in hand, Nixon could hardly contain his joy after completing the one goal that had eluded him for years.
"This is one of the most amazing days of fishing I've ever had," said Nixon, who avenged his 1999 fifth-place finish on Lake St. Clair. "It's just been an awesome day. I lost a good friend last week and I feel like this if for him. This feels just incredible."
Nixon said that while he had "struggled" during the first few days of the tournament, everything worked out perfectly today.
"I just made all the right moves today," said Nixon, who lead or owned a share of the lead over the last three days of the tournament. "I knew where the fish were and I knew what to do. I thought I had a good chance to win this tournament if everything worked out right. And that's exactly what happened."
Nixon said that after leaving the marina early this morning, he went straight to his prime fishing location. However, after landing three smallmouth bass on topwater lures, Nixon's suddenly found that the fish were no longer biting. Without hesitation, Nixon decided to shift strategies. It was a crucial decision that ultimately won him the tournament.
"After I caught those three fish, it sort of dried up on me," said Nixon. "But I thought I knew what to do. So I grabbed some soft plastics and a few minutes later, I caught another fish. A few minutes after that, I caught a 3-pound bass. And wouldn't you know it, I caught another one that was even bigger than the first a few minutes later. It was just one of those days where everything seemed to work out."
With 17 pounds of fish in the boat by 10:30 a.m., Nixon started to realize that the tournament was his to win or lose.
"When it's your turn to win, it's your turn to win," said Nixon. "But I had been close to winning before so I knew I had to keep on going. In fact, I should have won FLW tournaments at least two other times. But Mother Nature always seemed to kill me on the last day. I'd catch 15 pounds and still everyone would beat me. Thankfully, that didn't happen today."
No. Nixon made sure of that.
"This has just been one of the greatest weeks of my career," he said. "This is the biggest payday I have ever had. It's just an incredible feeling."
Dudley cast in role as runner-up
Despite a large and cumbersome leg cast that greatly limited his mobility, David Dudley of Manteo, N.C., still managed to pull off a dramatic second-place finish. Fishing in the third finals of his career on the FLW Tour, Dudley said he was pleased with his accomplishment even though he missed out on the big prize once again.
"I got off to a great start today. I had a limit by 6:23 a.m.," said Dudley, who registered a 17-pound catch that was nearly good enough to steal the title away from Nixon. "I caught a ton of fish today. I culled a lot of fish. So I'm just tickled to death right now."
For his efforts, Dudley won a check for $100,000.
Jimmy Millsaps of Canton, Ga., was equally pleased with his performance. Using a 16-pound, 15-ounce catch, Millsaps battled his way to third place, taking home a check for $50,000.
"I've had a great week," said Millsaps. "This is one of the best lakes I've ever fished. I had a great time and I'm really looking forward to coming back."
Fellow Georgia native Mickey Bruce landed in fourth place after registering a total catch of 16 pounds, 3 ounces. And like Millsaps, Bruce said he wouldn't trade his experience on Lake St. Clair for anything.
"I'll tell you what, this has just been a great week for me," said Bruce, who took home a check for $35,000 as well as a second-place finish in the Angler of the Year contest. "I think that I performed at my maximum level and made a bunch of smart decisions all week. I'm happy."
Of all of the anglers in the finals, it's hard to argue that Steve Daniel didn't have the best time of all.
"I believe this is the most fun I've ever had in a bass fishing tournament," said the native of Clewiston, Fla. "These tournaments are so hard to win, everything has to go just right. But I'll be back again and I promise you, I'll have as much fun as I did this time."
Daniel, who used a catch of 10 pounds, 12 ounces, ultimately finished in fifth place and took home a check for $30,000.
The next and final event of the FLW season will be the 2001 FLW Championship on Lake Champlain in Plattsburg, N.Y., scheduled to take place Sept. 12-15.
Quick Bites: Day 4