Live now : Sam Rayburn Reservoir - FLW Live Coverage

Bolton Hangs On

Bolton Hangs On

Terry Bolton’s professional fishing career almost ended before he finally had his moment. The moment every tournament angler dreams of. The moment decades in the making, so close so many times, yet still so far out of reach.

Today, Bolton finally grabbed hold of that moment, and he didn’t let go.

With a 17-pound, 6-ounce bag on day four of the FLW Tour opener on Sam Rayburn, which was presented by Polaris, the 24-year Tour veteran did something he’s been within ounces of doing so many times before: He won. He won his first Tour event, and he did it despite a handful of tremendous anglers — including standout rookie Nick LeBrun and the best angler on the planet, Bryan Thrift — breathing down his neck in a furious effort to outpace the Benton, Ky., pro.

Bolton bagged 33 pounds and 9 ounces on day two of the event, which set the wheels in motion for everything that followed. He added 19-10 on day three to retain the lead, and his 17-pound bag today brought his winning total up to 91-3.

Complete results

But for all the fish Bolton caught this week, there were two moments that truly stood out for the man who has earned more than $1.2 million in his FLW career.

On day two, Bolton pulled up to a spot at which he caught all 20 pounds and 10 ounces the day before. He made some casts, landed a lot of fish and got up to “27 or 28 pounds” before he decided to move. Almost.

“I was going to leave, and I was afraid a local boat was going to get in there, so I decided to stay. Lo and behold I catch a 9-8 and I catch 33 [pounds],” Bolton explains. “My staying there is what won it, because I stayed and caught that 9-pounder. I don’t know if you call it dumb luck or a good decision.”

Winning a Tour event takes a little of both, and given how many good decisions Bolton has made in his career, it was about time Lady Luck helped him out.

Still, a 33-9 stringer doesn’t guarantee anything when you have two more days to fish. Bolton still needed to catch some fish, and with a steady day three, it all once again came down to one good decision on the final day.

“I knew I wasn’t going to win with what I had,” he says. “I was running around and I wasn’t catching anything and I was tired. I said, ‘I’ve got to go somewhere different.’ I’ve got this one school of fish; I don’t know how big they are. I hadn’t been to them all week, and I ran to them, and lo and behold they were good ones. I wish I’d have gone to them an hour sooner.”

Bolton found a 4 1/2-pounder and a couple 3-pounders in that spot, which he caught on a Rapala DT 10 crankbait, but none of those fish mattered more to Bolton, at least at the time, than the 4 1/2-pounder he lost in that stretch.

“I really thought at 2:51 — I lost a 4 1/2-pounder trying to net it — and I thought, ‘Well, there it goes. You’ve done it again.’ And I knew Nick [LeBrun] was a really good fisherman, and I knew he’d catch them today, and I thought, ‘Well, you probably left the door open.”

Bolton has had plenty of close calls before, most notably at Kentucky Lake in 2006. So, at 2:51 Monday afternoon, when Bolton was again so close to the top finish and he watched a big fish swim away from his boat, it was no surprise Bolton thought his chances of winning swam away with it.

When it’s meant to happen, it just happens.

“It was my turn, and that’s all I can say about it,” Bolton says.

He waited a long time for his turn, but he’s grateful he got one. When Bolton considered retiring this offseason — a proposition he says was 60-40 in favor of retirement — he had no way of knowing just how close he was. And now that he’s finally gotten it, the fire is rekindled. It’s all about his next shot. And the next after that.

“My whole deal is if I don’t make the Cup it’s a failure,” he says. “I had a good tournament here, but I’ve got to have more good tournaments if I want to make the Forrest Wood Cup. I’ve been in the top five in two or three Forrest Wood Cups. It’d be cool to win it now. We got this out of the way.

“I’ve made two BFL All-Americans. I was a BFL points leader in my division. I won an EverStart. Now I’ve won a Tour [event]. A Cup now. An Angler of the Year or a Cup.”

Bolton admits that he didn’t give his best effort last season. His goal in 2019, once he decided to keep fishing, was to give it his best effort and have fun doing it. His best effort included making some terrific decisions about where he fished and what he fished with.

Most of Bolton’s fish came on Rapala DT crankbaits — either a DT10, a DT14 or a DT16 — in Caribbean shad or demon colors. He rigged his DTs on either Magnum Crankbaits 2 or Magnum Crankbaits 3 Lew’s Custom Pro Speed Stick Ledge Series Casting rods, paired with a Lew’s BB1 Pro Speed Spool in 5.1:1 gear ratio spooled with either 12- or 14-pound Sufix Invisiline fluorocarbon.

And, as is often the case with the man nicknamed “Blade,” the spinnerbait came into play throughout the tournament as well. He leaned on a white 3/4-ounce Accent spinnerbait to do some of his damage, as well as a Carolina rig equipped with a 5-inch Zoom Lizard in green pumpkin.

Bolton spent his entire tournament targeting many of the same areas, seven or eight of them, all laden with grass.

“I was basically fishing bare spots on inside grass lines in the morning, when those fish were up feeding on bait, catching them on a DT10, DT14 and some on a spinnerbait. Then, after 11 o’clock, I was going to the outside grass line drains and fishing 15- to 18-foot deep with the DT16 and 3/4-ounce spinnerbait.”

It was a pattern that Bolton found in practice and executed to perfection over the four days of competition. It was also a pattern that was a testament to the hard work Bolton is committed to putting in this season, paired with the fun he is certainly already having.

“I had probably the worst year I’d ever had in my career last year,” he says. “I was pretty low. I just wanted to come out and have fun and give my best effort, and I did this week. It all worked out. If it wasn’t for some encouragement, I was close to hanging it up.”

Instead of hanging it up, Bolton just wrapped up the biggest accomplishment of his career.

 

Top 10 pros

1. Terry Bolton –Benton, Ky. – 91-3 (20) – $125,000

2. Nick LeBrun – Bossier City, La. – 90-7 (20) – $30,000

3. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 88-13 (20) – $25,000

4. Chad Warren – Sand Springs, Okla. – 83-13 (20) – $20,000

5. Jim Tutt – Longview, Texas – 78-7 (20) – $19,000

6. Colby Schrumpf – Highland, Ill. – 70-7 (20) – $18,000

7. Jordan Osborne – Longview, Texas – 67-10 (20) – $17,250

8. Tom Redington – Royse City, Texas – 67-10 (20) – $16,000

9. Sam George – Athens, Ala. – 67-10 (20) – $15,000

10. Charles Sim – Nepean, Ontario – 60-2 (20) – $14,000

Complete results

Tags: justin-onslow  headline-story  2019-01-10-sam-rayburn-reservoir 

Sam Rayburn Day 4 Coverage

Sam Rayburn Day 4 Coverage

John Cox was coasting through days one and two of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit opener on Sam Rayburn. It wasn’t luck, but Cox simply had a spot that was doing a lot of the work for him. One cast, repeat, repeat again. That spot failed him on day three, and he scrambled just to scrounge up enough weight to retain the lead going into Championship Sunday. Now, Corey Neece and Darold Gleason are hot on his trail after both having put together spectacular performances yesterday. Either one could challenge Cox with ease today if their patterns and spots hold steady.  READ MORE »

Cox Losing Ground on Rayburn

Cox Losing Ground on Rayburn

READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Day 3 Coverage

Sam Rayburn Day 3 Coverage

The final 30 anglers are blasting off and headed to their first spots of the day. By the time the smoke clears this evening, we'll have 10 pros left to fish tomorrow, all chasing that $100,000 check and a huge jump start on the Angler of the Year points race. READ MORE »

Cox Leads by 5 pounds at Rayburn

Cox Leads by 5 pounds at Rayburn

Day two of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on Sam Rayburn offered fairly tough conditions, but the cream of the crop still caught a lot of Texas bass. In first, John Cox stayed steady with an 18-pound, 12-ounce limit to get up to a 40-3. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Day 2 Coverage

Sam Rayburn Day 2 Coverage

After an overcast and calm start to the first day on Sam Rayburn, day two looks to be offering much different weather conditions. The forecast calls for sunny skies all day, though it should be as windy, or windier, than it was to close day one. That's potentially good news for a good portion of the field, as conditions should more closely resemble what anglers had to work with during practice. READ MORE »

Cox Cranks Up Lead on Rayburn

Cox Cranks Up Lead on Rayburn

In what had to be an ironic sight, while Cox watched others around him beat Sam Rayburn’s shallow brush, the DeBary, Fla., pro sacked up 21 pounds, 7 ounces and take the day one lead by focusing out deeper with a crankbait to kick off the new Pro Circuit season. READ MORE »

Cox Leads with 21 at Rayburn

Cox Leads with 21 at Rayburn

Day one of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit on Sam Rayburn provided plenty of fish, but none of the mega-bags that hit the scale in 2019. As is often the case, John Cox is in the lead after day one, with 21 pounds, 7 ounces. Behind him, are a strong collection of tour veterans, up-and-coming pros and local talent. In second with 21-4 is Greg Bohannan and close behind him is Darold Gleason with 21-3. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Day 1 Coverage

Sam Rayburn Day 1 Coverage

The 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season is officially underway on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in East Texas. With the new season comes some fresh faces and familiar favorites, all of whom are looking to get a head start on the rest of the field in the 2020 Angler of the Year points standings. READ MORE »

FLW Live Leaderboard - Sam Rayburn

FLW Live Leaderboard - Sam Rayburn

FLW Marshals and media staff provide unofficial weight estimates for the first stop of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. READ MORE »

John Cox Making Most of Opportunities

John Cox Making Most of Opportunities

In addition to finishing second in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit standings last season, John Cox finished runner-up in the Bassmaster Central Open standings and fourth in the Eastern Open standings, qualifying him to fish the Pro Circuit and Bassmaster Elite Series this year. While many pros were faced with some either-or decisions this offseason, Cox chose both – fishing the Pro Circuit and Elite Series – and he’s not even a bit nervous about doing both. READ MORE »

2020 Lake Dardanelle Preview

2020 Lake Dardanelle Preview

Situated between the Ozark National Forest to the north and the Ouachita National Forest to the south, Lake Dardanelle in Northwest Arkansas is a roughly 34,000-acre impoundment on the Arkansas River that offers a multitude of unique and varied opportunities to catch quality bass. READ MORE »

Carper Wins Big on St. Johns River

Carper Wins Big on St. Johns River

The 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine continued competition Saturday at the St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida – the first time that the Gator Division presented by A.R.E. has opened their season on the St. Johns River – and featured a major return on investment for the winner. READ MORE »

Lasyone Tops Record Field on Rayburn

Lasyone Tops Record Field on Rayburn

The 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine opened competition Saturday at the historic Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Texas, and featured a record-setting field size – 230 boaters and 230 co-anglers. The season opener, the largest field in more than 20 years, took off with multiple anglers left on the waiting list.  READ MORE »

At 19, Lane Olson Isn’t Intimidated

At 19, Lane Olson Isn’t Intimidated

It’s not uncommon for a 19-year-old to pack up and move away from home to pursue independence and a career of his or her choosing. Of course, in many cases, that career is still several years away, on the other side of classes and tests and internships. READ MORE »

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Weighing limits of 15 pounds, 13 ounces on day one and 15-3 on day two, Michael Miller of Greenville, S.C., overcame a tough-fishing Kentucky Lake to win the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Wild Card and qualify for the All-American. READ MORE »

Coastal Carolina Wins on Hartwell  

Coastal Carolina Wins on Hartwell  

The Coastal Carolina University duo of Max McQuaide of Tyngsborough, Mass., and Grant Tattersall, of Conway, S.C., won the YETI FLW College Fishing tournament at Lake Hartwell presented by Costa with a five-bass limit weighing 13 pounds, 11 ounces. The victory earned the Chanticleers’ bass club $2,000 and a slot in the 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

By catching four quality smallmouth bass on the final day of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland, Missourian Chad Allison was able to come back from 10th place and win the co-angler division, earning more than $30,000. READ MORE »

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

For the second time this season, Andrew Upshaw is an FLW champion thanks to consistent days spent targeting big Southern smallmouths. The Tulsa, Okla., pro won the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Ky., with a three-day total weight of 42 pounds, 15 ounces. The win comes less than seven months after Upshaw won the FLW Tour event on Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee. READ MORE »

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Cumberland

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Cumberland

FLW media staff provides unofficial weight estimates for the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 3 Coverage

Cumberland Day 3 Coverage

Andrew Upshaw continues to roll on Cumberland. READ MORE »