UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Thrift Stuns at Santee Cooper

Thrift Stuns at Santee Cooper
Bryan Thrift earns the win.

Bryan Thrift has had less than a stellar start to his 2016 fishing season. First came a 102nd-place finish at the first Costa FLW Series event of the season on Lake Okeechobee. Then he finished 132nd place at the Walmart FLW Tour opener, which was also on Okeechobee.

This week, Thrift righted the ship in a big way on Santee Cooper by winning the second Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event, which was presented by Frabill. For his win, including contingencies, Thrift pocketed more than $93,000.

“After starting the year with two finishes below 100th place, this makes me feel a little better,” Thrift says. “We’re building a new house, and I have not had a paycheck since August, so this is going to relieve a lot of stress for me.”

Bryan Thrift (25-6)

Amazingly, Thrift pulled off the win at the Santee slugfest despite not filling his limit every day. On day two, he brought in just four fish – though they still totaled 24 pounds, 2 ounces. Today, however, he made up for the deficit by hauling 30 pounds, 7 ounces to the final weigh-in at the Manning, S.C., Walmart. His three-day total was 79-15.

“I really thought weighing four in yesterday [Friday] was going to cost me the win,” Thrift says. “Someone above is looking out for me is all I can say. I was blessed this week.”

Ironically, the very thing that cursed him at Okeechobee – running around the entire lake and trying to fish everything – is the very thing that enabled Thrift to win at Santee Cooper. Consider that during the event, Thrift weighed in fish that were caught far north of I-95 on the upper lake and from Pinopolis Point in the lower lake – in other words, he fished the entire Santee Cooper complex.

“This was my first tournament in my new 2016 Ranger and Evinrude, and I won,” Thrift grins. “That’s got to be a good sign about my new rig.

“On a lake like Santee Cooper that is absolutely full of big bass in the middle of March, on the first major warming trend with the water getting into the upper 60s and low 70s, I’m not going to beg them to bite,” Thrift says. “The big ones have just moved up for the first time all year, and they’re ready to bite, so I shouldn’t have to sit there and play with them. That’s just crazy. I’m going to make one cast, give my jig one hop and I’m gone. If there is a big one there, it will bite. It’s not like these fish have been pestered with for two months. They just pulled up, and my lure is the first one they’ve seen.”

With that, Thrift liberally applied his patented “smoke on the water” run-and-gun technique, making dozens of short stops across 40 mile of water.

“I’ll fish a grass bed for 10 minutes, run 10 miles and hit two or three trees, run another five miles, crank a couple of brush piles, run another five miles, crank a hundred yards of riprap,” Thrift details. “I’m not on any kind of pattern. I’m just running new water and fishing what looks good to me at the time. I’m looking for new fish that just moved up.”

Bryan Thrift

Of the barrage of lures Thrift used this week, he says three in particular were key: a buzzing toad, a Damiki DC-200 crankbait and a 1/2-ounce Damiki Mamba jig with a Damiki Knockout trailer.

Several of his biggest bass came by skipping the jig to trees on his signature series 6-foot, 9-inch rod by Fitzgerald Rods that was made for skipping. His line choice for skipping under the trees was 20-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon.

The crankbait scored a couple of bruisers from planted brush piles, and the rest came on the buzzing toad tied to 50-pound-test P-Line X Braid around flooded grass.

“I probably never had my trolling motor on less than 70 percent all week,” Thrift adds. “I wanted to cover as much water as possible as fast as possible. It might not have worked at Okeechobee, but it sure worked here.”

Final Results

 

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Tags: santee-cooper  bryan-thrift  rob-newell  headline-story  2016-03-10-santee-cooper 

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