UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Birge Battles Back for Win

Zack Birge of Blanchard, Okla., lives several hours from Grand Lake, but he still considers it somewhat of a home lake. So when he weighed in 12 pounds, 10 ounces on day one of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event presented by Evinrude and hosted by the City of Grove to start in a paltry 78th place, he was dejected.

“I’m not going to lie, I was pretty down on myself that first day,” Birge recalls. “That’s not what I was expecting, especially here on Grand.”

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Zack Birge loads up for a cast around a dock.

Birge makes no bones about it. On day one, he was fishing mostly within Wolf Creek where hundreds of fish get released at the Wolf Creek Park boat ramp. The thought of so many fish snubbing him the first day burned him up. Things had gotten personal between Birge and the bass in Wolf Creek. So on day two, he ran the exact same water with the same exact baits with the intentions of getting even with those bass, just to prove to himself he wasn’t wrong about day one.

And get even he did. On day two, Birge weighed in 21 pounds and blasted into 8th place to make the top-10 cut. Going into the final day, he was 5-1/2 pounds behind the leader. On day three, he once again made his same rotation around Wolf Creek cranking points and drains to sack up 18 pounds, 3 ounces and win by a pound and a half.

“I have no idea how I just pulled that off,” Birge said moments after being handed the trophy. “This is unreal.”

For his win, Birge took home $40,000 in cash.

For three days Birge says he cranked two crankbaits: a 6th Sense Crush 50X, which runs 4 to 6 feet deep, and a Crush Mini 25X, which runs 2 to 4 feet deep – both lures were in a bluegill color. He cranked them on 10-pound test Sunline FC Sniper fluorocarbon.

Birge cranked in and around the multitude of points in the Wolf Creek area. Though he caught a few on the points themselves, he said more of the better fish actually came from the small drains that run in between the points.

“I would position my boat out on the points and cast as far as I could back into the drains, paralleling the sides of the points. I wanted to bring the crankbait down the side of the drain, hitting that key 2- to 6-foot zone. A lot of those points were gravel on top, but turned to chunkier rock as they fell off the sides into the drains – that was the primary strike zone I was trying to hit. My crankbait would grind the bottom – gravel and chunk rock – the entire time.”

As to why the quality fish bit so much better on days two and three as opposed to day one, Birge says he has no answers.

“I literally fished the same baits in the same spots all three days,” he says. “The only thing I did different on that second day was sort of reverse my rotation of spots, which might have made a difference, I really don’t know.”

For Birge, this tournament is a testament to perseverance.

“Absolutely never give up after a bad day,” Birge says. “Anything can happen, especially on a lake like Grand. Just a few weeks ago Edwin Evers caught 29 pounds here on the last day to win the Bassmaster Classic. Those are the kinds of things you have to keep in mind after a bad day.”

Tags: zack-birge  grand-lake  spring  rob-newell  headline-story  2016-04-07-grand-lake 

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