Todd by a tiebreaker

Ben Todd of Pierson, Fla., wins the EverStart Series event on Lake Okeechobee by a tiebreaker.

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - When your very first fish of a three-day tournament is 9-pounder, it could be fortune. When your very last fish of that three-day tournament is another 9-pounder, it could be fate. But when you win that same three-day tournament by a tiebreaker, someone from above is looking out for you. That's exactly how the week went for EverStart rookie pro Ben Todd of Pierson, Fla. His first fish of the tournament on Thursday was 9-pounder. Then late this afternoon, with a small limit in his box and just minutes left in the fishing day, Todd hooked and landed another 9-pounder and won the EverStart Series event on Lake Okeechobee by a tiebreaker. Todd's total weight - 59 pounds, 3 ounces - was the exact total weight of runner-up Trevor Fitzgerald who mounted a gallant charge for the title with an impressive 25-pound-10 ounce catch today. But since Todd was ahead of Fitzgerald going into the final day, Todd got the winning hardware and the $40,000 check to go with it. "You see that right there," Todd said, seconds after his weight stopped at 16-3, the exact weight he needed to win. "That was not me. The Lord did that...not me." Indeed it was a magical week for the 32-year old Todd who works on his family's farm in Pierson. It started with a 31-7 limit on day one. Then waned to an 11-9 limit on day two. And then surged again with the magic digits 16-3 today, thanks to the tournament winning 9-pounder. Todd found his winning area late on Tuesday afternoon.Here "I made one quick pass down through there, had 10 bites and shook them all off," he said. "But I saw two of them as I was shaking them off and they were big. I did not return to the area until Thursday morning. My first fish of the day was 9-pounder and that kind of set the tone for the day as I kept catching big ones." Todd's key stretch included a line of reeds "in the middle" around the J&S area, which was protected from the predominant east wind that occurred throughout the event. "I was not fishing the very outside reeds," Todd detailed. "And I was not fishing all the way inside near the bank, either. This area had a line of reeds going down through the middle. The whole area was maybe three acres in size. And it's not like the fish were bunched up in a tiny spot. I caught them all the way down this line of reeds that ran north and south." Todd's key lures were a Gambler Fat Ace and a Tightlines UV UVenko. The Fat Ace was in a river bug color and the UVenko was in black and blue. He rigged the lures Texas-style with a 5/0 Gamakatsu flipping hook and topped them with 3/8-tungsten weights on 50-pound test PowerPro braid. Ben Todd"The fish were spawning around the reeds," he explained. "I couldn't see the beds and I couldn't see the fish, but I could just tell by how they were set up, they had made beds around those reeds. I'd pitch the bait in-between and around the reeds and just let it fall into where I thought a bed would be. I'd start the day with the Gambler Fat Ace and then when things got slow or I was re-fishing some of my stretches, I'd switch to the UVenko to give them a different look. I think that UV technology really gives the lure a different appearance in the water - something they've never seen before." "Today it was all the UVenko," he added. "I caught small fish early, but late in the day all the boats disappeared and things got calm and quiet and I got that indescribable feeling that maybe another big female or two was moving up. I kept looking at my watch...30 minutes left...20 minutes left...10 minutes left and then that big one bit. When I got her in the boat I knew I had a shot at winning." Fitzgerald charges hard, finishes second Trevor Fitzgerald of Belleview, Fla., treated the EverStart crowd to a special show at the final weigh-in, wowing them with an eye-popping 25-pound, 10 ounce limit of Big O bass. Fitzgerald's massive bag of bass allowed him to challenge Todd for the win, rocketing him from 7th to within a breath of victory. But in the end he had to accept the runner-up spot after Todd won by a tie-breaker, pocketing $15,000. Trevor Fitzgerald wowed the crowd with a massive 25-pound, 10-ounce catch. "It's tough to swallow," Fitzgerald said graciously. "And even tougher, considering I had 4-ounce dead fish penalty yesterday that cost me the win. I hook a fish in the tongue and usually when that happens, they expire. It was still a good week and hats off to Ben. He's a good guy and he earned it." Fitzgerald spent most of his week running the south end of the lake pitching main lake reed clumps with a big jig in search of a wave of females that had just moved in to spawn. "I had a spot I'd stop on first everyday just to get a limit," Fitzgerald said. "It was a rattle trap spot where I could catch 15 or 20 keepers pretty quick, get a limit in the box and then go hunting. I felt like if I stayed on the move and kept sampling different reed clumps, I'd eventually run into a little wad of Trevor Fitzgeraldbig ones and that's exactly what happened today. I stopped on a place where there had just been two-pounders all week and I caught four big females there that, in my opinion, had literally just moved in with the new moon last night." Fitzgerald's heavy artillery was a 1-ounce Gambler Jigzilla trailed with a Gambler MegaDaddy and tied to 80-pound Sunline FX braid. His flipping stick was his namesake 7-foot, 10-inch Fitzgerald Rods custom Big Jig/Mat Flipping stick. "One key, I think, was speed," Fitzgerald detailed. "I wasn't fishing slowly. I was making as many pitches and drops with the jig as possible, covering water. I'd drop it in once, shake it and then it was onto the next target. I was really in search mode. Once I got a big bite, then I would slow down." McMillan third Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, Fla., ended the week in third place with a three-day total of 56 pounds, 3 ounces worth $10,000. `Big Mac' (a nickname coined by McMillan's sponsor, Lionel Botha, owner of Halo rods) is usually considered a committed mat puncher but this week he sampled the big jig bite as well.Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, Fla., ended the week in third place with a three-day total of 56 pounds, 3 ounces worth $10,000. "The risk in committing to mat punching is that there is a lot of wasted time moving from one mat to another," McMillan explained. "A lot of times I kick the trolling motor on high and have to troll 30 or 40 yards to the next mat without fishing and that's a lot of down time. If the mat bite is really strong, I don't mind that kind of down time. But if the mat bite is so-so, it adds up to a lot of lost fishing time." "So I purposely stayed in water that offered a mix of both punching mats and pitching a jig to reeds," he continued. "That way, as I moved from one mat to another, I could pitch reed clumps in between with the jig. And I ended up catching a few bonus fish from the reeds, so it worked out well." McMillan's lures of choice included a Gambler B.B. Cricket and a Zoom Z-Hog on a 1-1/2-ounce tungsten for punching and a ¾-ounce 4X4 jig for pitching to reeds. Malone fourth Paul Malone of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, finished fourth with a three-day total of 55 pounds, 8 ounces worth $9,300. Paul Malone of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, finished fourth with a three-day total of 55 pounds, 8 ounces worth $9,300. Malone spent most of his week in the Monkey Box alternating between pitching reeds with a jig and punching mats. "I did catch some key fish out of the mats, but each day most of my fish came from the reeds," Malone said. "I feel like the fish were staging under the mats and spawning around the reeds and I'd kind of bounce back and forth depending on the time of day." His jig fishing was done with the 1-ounce Medlock's Double-Guard jig trailed with a big chunk and his punching was done with a beaver on a 1-1/2-ounce tungsten with a Trokar hook. Both were tied to 70-pound Daiwa Samurai braid. Brill fifth Chris Brill of Lehigh Acres, Fla., finished fifth with a three-day total of 48 pounds, 4 ounces for $8,000. Chris Brill of Lehigh Acres, Fla., finished fifth with a three-day total of 48 pounds, 4 ounces for $8,000. Brill spent the first two days of his week in Pelican Bay. On day one he casted a Gambler EZ Swimmer in McMillan's Magic and a 3/8-ounce 4X4 swimjig (black/blue) also trailed with the same EZ Swimmer. "I'd cover water casting the EZ Swimmer until I got a bite or two, then I would slow down and fish a little more thoroughly with the swimjig," Brill explained. "On day two, a lot of fishing pressure came into the area, so I switched up to pitching a 1-ounce 4X4 jig into water lettuce mats." "Today I stayed up near J&S and went back to casting the EZ Swimmer and the swimjig," he added. Rest of the best Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Series event on Lake Okeechobee: 6th: Casey Martin of New Market, Ala., three-day total of 46-4, $7,000 7th: Kyle Monti of Okeechobee, Fla., three-day total of 46-2, $6,000 8th: Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid, Fla., three-day total of 45-9, $5,000 9th: Preston Clark of Eagle Lake, Fla., three-day total of 44-15, $4,000 10th: Keith Fels of Ocala, Fla., three-day total of 36-2, $3,000

Tags: headline-story 

/news/2015-03-27-lewis-smith-lake-day-2-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 2 Coverage

Day 2 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-benton-blasts-20-12-on-lewis-smith

Benton Blasts 20-12 on Lewis Smith

Panama City, Fla., pro Drew Benton jumped into the early lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Benton caught a mix of largemouths and spotted bass, and revealed that both black bass species are spawning. He leads a tight top 20 that includes 18 pros that caught more than 15 pounds each. The first day was an absolute fish-fest. Of the 154 pros fishing this tournament, 138 weighed limits. Brad Roberts of Faubush, Ky., has a 2-ounce lead in the co-angler division with a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit. Tomorrow he’ll try to defend his lead on the final day of co-angler competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 1

While Drew Benton was busy bugging bedding fish for his day-one tournament lead, several others behind him were scoring big with other fishing options on Lewis Smith Lake. Sight-fishing also played a role in the top limits produce by Tracy Adams, Scott Martin and Ish Monroe, but Clayton Batts and Zack Birge both brought in big bags with other patterns. Click here to read about Benton’s day-one performance at the second Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015, which is presented by Evinrude. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-lewis-smith-lake-day-1-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 1 Coverage

Day 1 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-22-arkansas-anglers-win-college-open

Arkansas Anglers Win College Open

Consistency was the key for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open as Zachary Pickle and Drew Porto won the event with a two-day total of 43 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-kendrick-king-on-guntersville

Kendrick King On Guntersville

Kendrick, who is fishing the Rayovac FLW Series in hopes of qualifying for the FLW Tour, caught more than 25 pounds each day of the event and finihsid in fine fasion when it counted. Kendick was catching nearly all of his bass around big schools of bait with a Houdini pearl-colored Scottsboro Tackle swimbait from 15- to 25-feet of water. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-epting-s-30-pounds-tops-on-santee-cooper

Epting's 30 Pounds Tops on Santee Cooper

SUMMERTON, S.C. – Chris Epting of Chapin, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 30 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Santee Cooper. For his victory, Epting earned $3,679. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-wood-rock-key-for-middleton-s-victory

Wood, Rock Key for Middleton's Victory

HUDDLESTON, Va. – Dennis Middleton of Madison Heights, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Middleton earned $7,199. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-johnson-wins-on-dale-hollow

Johnson Wins on Dale Hollow

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Robby Johnson of Byrdstown, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Johnson earned $5,689. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-griffin-gets-win-on-ross-barnett

Griffin Gets Win on Ross Barnett

BRANDON, Miss. – Jason Griffin of Benton, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Ross Barnett Reservoir. For his victory, Griffin earned $5,349. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-top-5-patterns-from-guntersville-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Guntersville Day 2

The second day of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division tournament on Lake Guntersville proved as remarkable as the first – or perhaps better, considering today’s parade of big fish included a 12-pound, 10-ounce behemoth caught by fourth-place pro Trevor Fitzgerald for the day’s Big Bass prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-hall-holds-steady-for-lead

Hall Holds Steady For Lead

Joe Hall of Lake City, Minn. wasn’t confident about his chances going onto the second day of competition of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Lake Guntersville. Nonetheless, he held steady with a 27-pound, 5-ounce catch that only barely fell short of the 28-1 he weighed on the first day. With a two-day total of 55 pounds, 6 ounces, Hall holds a 1-pound, 12-ounce lead over Cameron Gautney going into the final day of the Mercury presented tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-missouri-anglers-lead-college-open

Missouri Anglers Lead College Open

Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almohtadi of Northwest Missouri State University of Maryville, Mo., took the lead in the opening round of the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake with 25 pounds, 2 ounces. Heading into Saturday’s second and final round, the University of Kentucky’s Ryan Collins and Hunter Fulcher sit in second place with 22-14, while Ethan Flack and Konnor Kennedy of the University of Alabama are currently third with 22-9. Details to follow. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-day-1-patterns-from-the-college-open

Day 1 Patterns from the College Open

The Northwest Missouri State University team of Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almontadi took the day-one lead in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake. While their pattern seems to be effectively refined – they were using only one lure and had no others out on the deck – Nordbye and Almontadi don’t have this one sewed up yet. The rest of the top five is just a few pounds behind the leaders. Here’s how they made it into contention going into the final day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-gautney-under-pressure

Gautney Under Pressure

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Guntersville is just as misty and nasty as the first. Lucky for us, the first day of the Mercury-presented event featured huge catches throughout the field. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-college-open-day-1-midday-update

College Open Day 1 Midday Update

“You should have been here yesterday” might have been the motto for the first day of fishing in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake. Though many of the 194 teams entered in the two-day event out of Moor’s Resort & Marina reported good to excellent practices, many of the same anglers were complaining about a lack of fish on opening morning of the competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-19-gautney-cranks-up-the-lead

Gautney Cranks Up The Lead

Gautney says he keyed on staging fish in several very specific locations and one specific depth. He and co-angler Antoni Bicy caught 59 pounds, 8 ounces off of his spots, and he seems confident about his ability to keep catching them the rest of the event. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-19-top-5-patterns-from-guntersville-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Guntersville Day 1

The first day of the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Guntersville was a welcome departure from the grumblings of practice. Though fans weren’t treated to multiple 30-pound limits on the pro side, like at the Walmart Bass Fishing League event at Guntersville a couple of weekends ago, it still took more than 25 pounds to get into the top five on day one of this Mercury-presented tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-14-morrison-wins-on-dale-hollow

Morrison Wins on Dale Hollow

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Charles Morrison of Georgetown, Kentucky, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 20 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Music City Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Morrison earned $3,926. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-14-hughan-claims-arkie-division-title-on-greers-ferry

Hughan Claims Arkie Division Title on Greers Ferry

GREERS FERRY, Ark. – William Hughan of Little Rock, Arkansas, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Arkie Division tournament of 2015 on Greers Ferry Lake. For his victory, Hughan earned $4,350. READ MORE »