Bryan Thrift wins with big catch on final day / Photo by FLW

Thrift Wins Costa FLW Series on Santee Cooper with Big Catch

Bryan Thrift posted a huge 30 pound limit the final day to win the slugfest that was the 2016 Costa FLW Series on Santee Cooper Lakes.

FLW Tour star Bryan Thrift of Shelby, North Carolina, weighed a monster five-bass limit totaling 30 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on Santee Cooper presented by Frabill with a three-day total of 14 bass weighing 79 pounds, 15 ounces. For his win, Thrift earned $48,200 and a new Ranger Z518 bass boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard engine.

“It’s really nice to get a win after the terrible start that I’d had to begin this season,” said Thrift, who earned his eighth career win in FLW competition and pushed his career earnings to more than $1.75 million. “The two poor finishes at Okeechobee were a pretty big monkey on my back. I had no idea how I’d do in this event after my practice, but it was a fun tournament and I brought in the biggest bag that I’ve ever weighed today.”

Thrift estimated that he caught 10 fish on day one, just four on day two, and around 20 today, the third and final day of competition. He junk-fished throughout the week, catching fish on a green-pumpkin Damiki Mamba jig with a Damiki Knock Out or a Zoom Super Chunk, a Damiki DC200 crankbait, an unnamed frog and a Rat-L-Trap.

“I’m pretty sure that I caught fish in all three phases of the spawn,” Thrift said. “The key for me this week was my signature series 6’9” Fitzgerald Skipping Special rod. It has enough tip to get the bass out of the wood but is still small enough to be able to skip a jig into areas that a longer rod can’t.”

Thrift lived up to his nickname of “Smoke on the Water”, as he fished both Marion and Moultrie lakes in all three days of competition and estimated that he used 30 to 35 gallons of gasoline each day.

“I guarantee that I ran faster and farther than anyone this week,” Thrift said on stage. “My Ranger and (Evinrude) G2 ran flawlessly. I didn’t re-visit any of the same spots and ran all new water every day.”

The top 10 pros on Santee Cooper were:

1st:          Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 14 bass, 79-15, $48,200 and a Ranger Z518 w/ 200-horsepower outboard

2nd:         Pat Fisher, Colbert, Ga., 15 bass, 76-2, $19,500

3rd:          Glenn Browne, Ocala, Fla., 15 bass, 71-3, $14,000

4th:          Bradley Dortch, Bay Minette, Ala., 15 bass, 70-14, $12,000

5th:          Preston Clark, Eagle Lake, Fla., 15 bass, 69-2, $11,000

6th:          Tim Malone, Gatlinburg, Tenn., 14 bass, 61-0, $9,000

7th:          Jay Kendrick, Grant, Ala., 14 bass, 57-9, $7,800

8th:          Todd Smith, Summerville, S.C., 15 bass, 56-9, $6,800

9th:          Rob Digh, Denver, N.C., 12 bass, 52-13, $5,800

10th:        Zach Crider, Tunnel Hill, Ga., 11 bass, 49-15, $4,400

Complete results will be posted at FLWFishing.com.

Levi Christianson of Nisswa, Minnesota, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the pro division Thursday – a largemouth weighing 9 pounds, 15 ounces to earn him the day’s Big Bass award of $300.

Todd Walters of Summerville, South Carolina, won the co-angler division, $6,100 and a Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard motor, with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 55 pounds, 11 ounces. 

The top 10 co-anglers on Santee Cooper were:

1st:          Todd Walters, Summerville, S.C., 15 bass, 55-11, $6,100 and a Ranger Z117 w/ 90-horsepower outboard motor

2nd:         Sean Lewis, Baskerville, Va., 10 bass, 39-8, $6,000

3rd:          Gerald Bozeman, Sylvester, Ga., nine bass, 35-13, $4,850

4th:          Patrick Cook, Johnsonville, S.C., 10 bass, 33-10, $3,900

5th:          Kyle Parks, Albany, Ga., seven bass, 32-8, $3,400

6th:          Jeff Rikard, Leesville, S.C., eight bass, 28-15, $2,900

7th:          John Duarte, Middle River, Md., nine bass, 28-14, $2,400

8th:          Randol Stone, Marianna, Fla., nine bass, 27-12, $1,950

9th:          Nick Cupps, Chattanooga, Tenn., nine bass, 27-4, $1,580

10th:        Lonnie Drusch, Sumter, S.C., eight bass, 27-3, $1,330

Jeremy Cianfarano of Greenville, South Carolina, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the co-angler division Thursday weighing 8 pounds, 9 ounces to earn him the day’s Big Bass award of $200.


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