McMillan Wins BASS Open on Lake Seminole

Florida pro Brandon McMillan won the tournament and punched his ticket to the Bassmaster Classic and the 2016 Elite Series field.

The fishing on the final round of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open No. 3 presented by Allstate was no different than it was on Thursday and Friday. It was a grind. Although Lake Seminole teems with big bass, October is the toughest month to catch them.
 
Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, Fla., started the day with 39 pounds, 8 ounces, which put him nearly 7 pounds ahead of Trevor Fitzgerald, of Belleview, Fla., who was in second place. Only the Top 12 of the 166 pros and 166 co-anglers fished on Saturday.
 
McMillan needed that cushion. At 2 p.m. today, he had only three bass with 90 minutes left to fish. He kept his composure and caught the final two bass that filled his pro limit of five fish. Saturday, his five-fish limit totaled 9-13, which paled in comparison to the 19-pound limits he brought in on Thursday and Friday. However, they gave him enough weight to earn the victory with a total of 49-5.
 
Every bass McMillan caught came by flipping a Zoom Z Craw that was Texas rigged with a 4/0 Mustad hook and a 1 1/4- or 1 1/2-ounce Elite Tungsten Worm Weight. He horsed his bass from the thick grassbeds he was fishing with a 7-foot, 11-inch, G. Loomis flipping rod sporting a Shimano Core reel spooled with 60-pound Gamma braided line.
 
For winning the tournament, McMillan received a Skeeter ZX200 bass boat powered by a Yamaha VF200LA along with an additional cash prize. He also earned a berth in the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic  presented by GoPro because he fished all three of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open tournaments in 2015.
 
If that were not enough, McMillan also earned the most cumulative points in the Bassmaster Southern Open division. Any Bassmaster Opens angler that finishes among the Top 5 in the overall points standings qualifies for the Elite Series.
 
Elite Series pro Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., finished second with 45-6. Tharp failed to qualify for the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic through the Elite Series. Winning this event was his last chance to qualify for the Classic. He nearly pulled it off.
 
Tharp also flipped soft plastic baits into dense grassbeds to catch his bass. His 7-foot, 11-inch extra heavy action Halo Twilite rod was paired with 60-pound Gamma braided line. Two lures were his workhorses, Zoom’s Z Craw and Z Hog. One was rigged with a heavy Reins tungsten sinker and the other with a Reins Punch Shot Tungsten weight. The latter weight features a collar to which Tharp attached a skirt.
 
With a total weight of 44-10 Chad Grigsby of Maple Grove, Minn., claimed third place. On ThursdayFriday and most of today, Grigsby caught his bass with a FlippinBug soft plastic lure from Charlie’s Worms. He rigged the bait with a 1 1/2-ounce tungsten weight, 65-pound test Seaguar braided line spooled on a Lew’s baitcasting reel mounted to a 7-foot, 11-inch Halo flippin’ rod.

However, at 2 p.m. today, Grigsby had only two bass. He switched to a Zara Spook topwater plug and promptly caught three more bass, the biggest of which weighed 5 pounds.
 
Travis Kelehan of Broussard, La., won the co-angler division with a weight of 22-9. His prize was a Triton 179 TrX bass boat with a Mercury 115 Pro XS outboard.
 
“I fished with three outstanding pros this week,” Kelehan said.
 
Did he ever. He fished with Randall Tharp Thursday, Elite Series pro Greg Hackney Friday and Timmy Reneau on Saturday. All three of these anglers excel at fishing thick grass, which was just what Kelehan wanted.
 
Elite Series pro Chad Morgenthaler of Coulterville, Ill., caught the biggest bass on the pro side of the tournament with a largemouth weighing 8-12. He earned the Bass Pro Shops Big Bass award worth $750.
 
The 6-10 bass caught by Eugene Stinson of Dry Branch, Ga., was the biggest among the co-anglers. Stinson earned a $250 Bass Pro Shops Big Bass award.
 
 For leading the tournament on Friday, McMillan received the $250 Livingston Lures Leader Award. Bailey Boutries of Daphne, Ala., claimed the co-angler Livingston Lures Leader Award, which is worth $250 in merchandise.
 


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