UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

Dudley does it again!

David Dudley can barely contain his emotions immediately after winning the 2003 FLW Championship in dramatic fashion.

RICHMOND, Va. - With a steeled determination and a poker face that would have intimidated the best card players on the Las Vegas circuit, David Dudley of Manteo, N.C., sat and watched as his main rival Harmon Davis of Marlow, Okla., methodically racked up a 9-pound, 4-ounce limit. At this point, no other finalist but Dudley could mathematically defeat Davis. The tension mounted. Dudley, who had only one fish remaining, desperately needed to come up with at least 2 pounds, 6 ounces to have any shot at the title. But did he have it? Nobody knew ... except Dudley, the man who already had a $700,000 payday under his belt for winning last year's Ranger M1 tournament.

As the crowd watched in nervous anticipation, Dudley walked to the scales, paused and then jerked out a 2-pound, 9-ounce largemouth bass - his fifth and final fish. Dudley pumped his fist. Davis, who had only weighed in four fish of a potential five-fish limit, was now only 4 ounces from victory. However, when Davis reached into his livewell, he grasped only air. Dudley, upon realizing that he had won perhaps the most difficult tournament of his life, thrust his arms toward the sky in victory. In one fell swoop, Dudley became the all-time money leader on the FLW Tour, pushing his career earning at FLW Outdoors and Ranger M1 events over the $1.5 million mark.

However, when asked to say a few words onstage about his fantastic and historic accomplishment, Dudley - perhaps for the first time in his life - was speechless. As he choked back tears, Dudley tried to regroup. But he failed, over and over again. Finally, after slumping back in his chair in complete exhaustion, Dudley spoke.

"I feel very proud of this win," said Dudley, who battled a highly competitive field and nasty weather all week to capture the first-place prize of $500,000. "This means more to me than winning the $700,000 at the Ranger M1 tournament because I feel like I really earned this victory. It feels great. This is probably the best win of my career."

Dudley said that he knew he had a good chance of capturing the title when he saw how high the water had risen earlier this morning.

"When I got to the boat ramp for takeoff and I saw that the water was over the dock, I was really happy," he said. "I was hoping for high water because I thought that'd really put me at an advantage."

As it turned out, he was right on.

"People kept talking all week about how tough it was to fish with the tides, but the tides weren't very important to me," he said. "The key to this water is figuring out where the fish are positioned in current. Whether it's high tide or low tide, you still have to understand where the fish are at."

David Dudley weighs in part of his 9-pound, 7-ounce limit in the finals. Although it wasnDudley threw a 1/2-ounce homemade spinner bait with a 6-inch trailer nicknamed the Rabbit Dog Spinner bait to land the majority of his catch in today's competition. However, Dudley argued that the key to his victory was finding a very unique flat near the mouth of the Appomattox River.

"I found a flat with current and a clean bottom - no muck or dead vegetation - where the fish would migrate to off the main channel," he said. "On this type of water, you always have to find a spot that's a migration route for the fish. Once I found it, I knew the spot would keep replenishing itself with fish because that's the first place they'd go when they came off the channel. When the fish are moving around a lot, you have to find their migration routes."

Dudley was then asked to put his accomplishment, as well as the tremendous growth of the sport, in perspective.

"It's taken Larry Nixon, one of the best fishermen of all time, his whole career to win $1 million," said Dudley. "And it's taken me just two tournaments. It just goes to show you how far this sport has come. I'm just glad I started my career when I did."

Unfortunately for the 11 other finalists, they were probably left wishing that Dudley had started his career in 2010.

Agony of defeat

For Harmon Davis of Marlow, Okla., the finals of the 2003 FLW Championship would only be remembered - at least in the short term - as a day of missed opportunities and great frustration.

"This is the only day all week that I didn't catch a limit and it cost me," said Davis, who had to settle for a second-place check for $75,000. "Three ounces was the difference between me getting to fish for a living and going home and going back to work. Next week, nobody is going to remember who finished in second place."

However, Davis acknowledged that he had his chances to win.

"I was on the fish to win this tournament, that's what's so frustrating," said Davis, who currently works as the part owner of a paint and body shop back home in Oklahoma. "I also missed three fish today, at least one of which was a 2- or 3-pounder. And that was the difference. If I catch that fish, I come in with at least 10 or 11 pounds."

Davis said today's tidal patterns wreaked havoc on his fishing plan.

"I had one little creek where I had been catching fish all week," he said. "The fish were really stacked there. But the tides just went nuts today. I needed to fish the incoming tides and it usually (occurred) around 11 a.m. The tides roared out today, but they didn't want to come back in. I guess it just wasn't meant to be."

Davis said he targeted big slick laydowns with a Bandit crankbait in a Louisiana shad color to land his fish.

Kilby comes up short as well

(Photo by Gary Mortenson)" BORDER="1" ALIGN="LEFT">Rob Kilby of Hot Springs, Ark., had no intention of fishing for anything other than first place. But although he didn't win the title, he did come away with a pretty good consolation prize - a third-place finish and a check for nearly $41,000.

"I was one of those guys who went for broke today," said Kilby. "I knew all of my areas were too muddy to fish, so I basically abandoned all of the spots I had found before. I made a run that probably took about one hour and 25 minutes. I also lost a fish that was probably between 5 and 6 pounds. But I knew I was in trouble when I saw the weather this morning.

"I had a little pattern going in the back of the creeks, but the water kind of blew everything out today," Kilby continued. "I just ran out of fish."

Kilby, who ultimately recorded a total catch of 5 pounds, 15 ounces, used a combination of Terminator jigs, spinner baits and wooden crankbaits to land his catch in the finals.

Bird's magic finally runs out

Despite fishing a fantastic tournament, Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas, came up short in the finals.

"I really thought I'd do a lot better today," said Bird, who recorded a total catch of 3 pounds, 15 ounces to capture fourth place and a check for $35,000. "I caught a 3-pounder right off the bat, and I was feeling pretty good for a while. But things just didn't work out. I've had a good time, but I really wanted to get the lettuce (top prize)."

Schenck turns in memorable performances

Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind., appeared to be the most upbeat finalist aside from Dudley by the time weigh-in had concluded. Schenck, an up-and-coming young gun on the FLW Tour, ultimately turned in a 3-pound, 10-ounce catch to finish in fifth place.

"It was a remarkable tournament," said Schenck. "Everywhere I fished today were places where I had caught a big fish in practice. I just couldn't get the bites. But three of my best friends drove 700 miles to be with me today and that meant a lot. Overall, I had a great time."

VanDam fails in bid to capture first FLW title

Although Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., has won nearly every prize there is to win on the professional bass-fishing circuit, he again failed to capture the one thing that has eluded him throughout his career - an FLW tournament crown.

"The water just got real muddy with all of that rain so I had to move around a lot," said VanDam. "But I never gave up. I was casting like a madman all day. I just knew the next stop was where I'd catch a 5-pounder. I spent most of the time trying to find that one magic area, but all I was able to find were two little fish. We're all swinging for the fences today. I just came up a little short. But I have no regrets."

VanDam ultimately finished the championship in sixth place after landing a 2-pound, 14-ounce catch.

Best of the rest

Jimmy Millsaps of Canton, Ga., took seventh place with a catch of 2 pounds, 14 ounces; John Crews of Jetersville, Va., finished in eighth place with a catch of 2 pounds, 7 ounces; Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., took home ninth place with a catch of 1-pound, 6-ounces; Paul Elias of Pachuta, Miss., finished in 10th place with a catch of 15 ounces; Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., ended up in 11th place with a catch of 0 ounces; and Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., finished the tournament in 12th place with a catch of 0 ounces.

The 2004 FLW Tour season will commence Jan. 21 on Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, Fla.

Related links:

Photos
Results
Championship bracket update
Championship Bites: James River, Day 4
Press releases

Tags: headline-story  gary-mortenson 

/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 »

/news/2015-07-16-7-terrific-topwater-baits

7 Terrific Topwater Baits

If you don’t like fishing topwater, just give up fishing already. These seven new baits will help you get your surface-fishing fix next season. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-critters-and-craws

Critters and Craws

Nearly everyone already has a tackle box overflowing with soft baits. That said, there are always more to try. If you’re looking for something new, the following might do the trick. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-15-new-hard-baits-for-2015

New Hard Baits for 2015

It doesn’t take long to find yourself overwhelmed on the show floor of ICAST. Hundreds of companies are here unveiling cool, new products. When it comes to the hard bait category it can be daunting to sift through all the new stuff. Its early, but here are a few things that might be worth adding to the tackle box. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-15-icast-2015-fishing-accessories

ICAST 2015 Fishing Accessories

Check out these tools and accessory items that fill a variety of roles when on the water. We’ll update the list later tomorrow too. Click here for complete 2015 ICAST coverage. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-15-cool-new-electronics-at-icast-2015

Cool New Electronics at ICAST 2015

These days, anglers rely on cutting edge electronic devices not only to find and catch fish, but also to share their fishing experiences with the world. The following new products, as seen on day one at ICAST 2015, will help you do all of the above. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-15-new-clothing-and-sunglasses-at-icast-2015

New Clothing and Sunglasses at ICAST 2015

Sunglasses and clothing that can resist all that Mother Nature throws at it are critical for hard-core anglers. Here’s what’s new in those categories at this year’s ICAST show. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-15-three-new-finesse-worms

Three New Finesse Worms

Though there is a ton of finesse worms already available on the market, but the following three from the first day of ICAST might be worth a look if you sense a gap in your arsenal. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-14-dance-detweiler-and-east-win-icast-cup

Dance, Detweiler and East Win ICAST Cup

Weighing in midway through the 48-boat field, Bill Dance, Cody Detweiler, and Dave East repped Mystik Lubricants brought a five-bass limit for 17 pounds, 1 ounce to the scale for the win. The team focused on two shallow, grassy areas within sight of Big Toho Marina for the entirety of the event and caught about 10 bass and culled twice before 8 a.m. READ MORE »