UPCOMING EVENT: YETI FLW COLLEGE FISHING - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Espe finally wins the ‘big one,’ nets FLW Series title on Lake Roosevelt

Keith Espe of New River, Ariz., holds up his first-place trophy after winning the FLW Series event on Lake Roosevelt.

PAYSON, Ariz. - Ever since Keith Espe of New River, Ariz., began tournament bass fishing at the tender age of 16, he had dreamed of winning a major a bass-fishing event. Well, today it finally happened. Using a stellar four-day catch of 47 pounds, 4 ounces, Espe won the FLW Series Western Division event on Lake Roosevelt going away, taking home $48,000 in winnings as well as enough memories to last a lifetime.

To be sure, victory was bittersweet. After losing his mother this past February and suffering through the passing of his father only three months later, Espe was able to reflect on what his dramatic win on Lake Roosevelt meant in the grand scheme.

"Words can't describe how I'm feeling right now," said Espe. "Wow. I really wanted to win this because of my parents. I feel like I need to dedicate this to my mom and dad. This is for them."

Amazingly enough, the primary fishing hole that Espe targeted all week was a location that he and his father shared during many team tournaments in the past.

"We found this spot about five years ago, and we've won many tournaments on that exact same spot," he said. "Obviously, the fish are still there."

FLW Series pro Keith Espe of New River, Ariz., shows off part of his winning 47-pound, 4-ounce catch on Lake Roosevelt.Espe said that he targeted largemouth bass on a horseshoe-shaped channel bend that was originally constructed when the Roosevelt Dam was built decades ago. He said he fished basically the same way all week: a Wave Tiki Bamboo stick worm in the early morning hours and then later switching to a Roboworm in a morning-dawn color.

But while Espe held a 31/2-pound lead heading into the final day of competition, he said that the nerves were strong.

"I've been fired up all day," he said. "When I didn't catch a fish during the first 30 minutes, I started shaking. Then when I finally caught a fish, I was shaking. And even when I caught my second fish, I was still shaking. I really didn't feel calm until about 1 p.m."

Eventually, however, Espe managed to relax long enough to walk onto the stage, acknowledge his home crowd, record his limit and walk away with victory - by far the most important of his career.

"This is the biggest win of my life," he said. "There's nothing better than going bass fishing and doing well."

Espe, not surprisingly, said the entire tournament has been a walk down memory lane.

"My dad started taking me fishing a long time ago," he said. "And when it was raining out and cold and I said that I didn't want to go out fishing, he'd say, `Get in the boat, we're going.' My dad made me who I am today."

Undoubtedly, somewhere the elder Mr. Espe is smiling. And so is his son.

Lee overcomes hardship to snare runner-up finish

Robert Lee of Angels Camp, Calif., finished in second place overall at the FLW Series event on Lake Roosevelt.To say that Robert Lee of Angels Camp, Calif., has had a trying week would be the understatement of the tournament. Here's a brief synopsis of Lee's story of theft and redemption: After spending some time scouting Lake Roosevelt, Lee returned to Phoenix and parked his truck at a hotel parking lot in an effort to catch a quick flight out of town before returning for the start of the FLW Series event. Unfortunately, he later received a call from the authorities that he rather would not have gotten.

"They told me that my truck had been stolen," he said.

While that news was bad enough, Lee also had the lion's share of his fishing equipment in the vehicle. Although his truck was later found somewhere in the middle of the desert, up on blocks with the tires removed, his equipment was gone for all intents and purposes.

And so began Lee's quest to make tournament-day lemonade out of stolen-truck lemons.

"I have to admit that I was really mad for the first few days of practice. Eventually, though, I managed to calm down," he said. "I have some great friends, and I really have to give credit to them. They let me borrow line, hooks, worms ... you name it."

Despite the long odds, Lee managed to put his frustration aside and string together a veritable fishing clinic in the process.

"In the four days of the tournament, I probably caught 95 fish," said Lee, who recorded a total catch of 43 pounds, 13 ounces. "So it was a pretty good week."

Unfortunately, in the end, Lee came up a little short of the title.

"I haven't won a tournament in a few years, and to do so you have to fish perfectly. And today I didn't fish perfectly," he said. "But Espe deserves it. To tell you the truth, given everything that happened, I did the best that I could. Don't get me wrong, I'm disappointed I didn't win - I'm a competitor. But I feel like I did great. It's really hard to beat a local pro who is that good."

Ultimately Lee landed the majority of his fish in the finals using a combination of Skinny Dipper swimbaits and 6-inch Fat Roboworms on a drop-shot, targeting bass holding in bushes in 14 to 15 feet of water. For his efforts, Lee won over $19,000 in prize money.

Ehrler continues hot streak

Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., proudly displays his 2010 FLW Series Western Division Angler of the Year trophy before the start of final weigh-in.Seemingly the only thing that Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., didn't do this year was win the title on Lake Roosevelt. Although he ultimately finished in third place with a total catch of 42 pounds, Ehrler arguably walked away with a much bigger prize - the 2010 FLW Series Western Division Angler of the Year award.

"I've really wanted to win this for a long time," said Ehrler. "I've come so close before. So it's nice to finally do it. I don't want this to sound the wrong way, but it's about time."

Without a doubt, Ehrler has put together one of the greatest single-season fishing displays in recent memory. During the 2010 season, Ehrler won two FLW Tour titles (Lake Ouachita and Table Rock Lake), scored a fifth-place overall finish in the FLW Tour AOY race, recorded a fourth-place finish at the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup and finished in the top five in three of four FLW Series Western Division events (including a win at Lake Shasta, a fourth-place finish at Lake Mead and a third-place finish at Lake Roosevelt). And now, Ehrler can add one more title to that list - the 2010 FLW Series Western Division Angler of the Year award.

As a result, Ehrler wasn't all that disappointed about not hoisting the trophy at Lake Roosevelt today - especially since his AOY award earned him an automatic berth into the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Ouachita.

Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., finished in third place with a total catch of 42 pounds at the FLW Series event on Lake Roosevelt."I actually kind of struggled the last two days," he said. "But today I started fishing shallow and kept getting the bites. So I decided to fish shallow all day long. I actually had a limit by 8:15 a.m. and probably had more bites today than I did all week. So, overall, I'm pretty happy."

Ehrler said he ultimately targeted bass in today's competition using a combination of buzzbaits and Phoenix swim jigs. For his efforts, Ehrler won $13,000.

Savoini lands in fourth place

Jimmy Savoini of Prescott, Ariz., used a total catch of 39 pounds, 1 ounce to capture fourth place as well as over $8,600 in winnings at the FLW Series event on Lake Roosevelt.Jimmy Savoini of Prescott, Ariz., used a total catch of 39 pounds, 1 ounce to capture fourth place as well as over $8,600 in winnings.

"Just to be onstage with these guys is great," said Savoini. "They're some of the best in the world, and I feel very privileged."

Savoini said that he targeted bass ushering baitfish through "choke points" in creek channels to land the majority of his catch. His arsenal included spinnerbaits as well as a 6-inch Roboworm on a drop-shot.

"I ended up with 10 rods on my deck, but those baits were kind of the one-two punch for me."

Klinger rounds out top five finalists

National Guard pro Tim Klinger added another stellar chapter to his 2010 FLW Series Western Division season, using a total catch of 37 pounds, 10 ounces to capture fifth place overall on Lake Roosevelt.National Guard pro Tim Klinger added another stellar chapter to his 2010 FLW Series Western Division season, using a total catch of 37 pounds, 10 ounces to capture fifth place overall and a check for $7,800.

"This place is just awesome," said Klinger, who also turned in an identical fifth-place performance at Lake Mead earlier in the year. "I basically fished brush all week with spinnerbaits and buzzbaits. The buzzbait really turned on today, and I probably should have been fishing that all day. But I had a great time."

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2010-09-22-lake-roosevelt 

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