Jeff Fitts wins 2016 Lake Dardanelles FLW Series / Photo by FLW

Fitts Wins Costa FLW Series on Lake Dardanelle

Florida angler flips his way to victory on flooded Arkansas River fishery.

 Jeff Fitts of Keystone Heights, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the Costa FLW Series Central Division opener on Lake Dardanelle presented by Mercury with a three-day total of 13 bass weighing 48 pounds, 10 ounces. For his win, Fitts took home $48,000.

“I don’t really have the words to describe how incredible this feels right now,” said Fitts, who earned his second career win in FLW competition. “I’d like to fish the FLW Tour full-time next year, so this win means a lot. I feel like I’m one step closer to that goal.”

Fitts said he spent the majority of his tournament punching heavy vegetation in two spawning pockets, located between the launch ramp and the Illinois Bayou. He said he used one bait all three days of the event – a Strike King Rage Tail DB Structure Bug rigged on a Trokar Big Nasty Flippin Hook with a 1 1/2-ounce tungsten weight.

“The grass was really thick so I’d pitch the Rage Tail in, lift it to see if anything was on it, hop it a few times and then pull it out,” said Fitts. “The bites were soft and sporadic, but I’m from Florida so that’s the kind of cover I’m comfortable with and that’s how I like to fish. I only weighed in three on day one, but had lost one earlier on in the day.”

On day two, Fitts said he returned to his pockets and used a Black Blue Flake-colored Rage Tail. He said he caught the majority of his fish from a 100-yard stretch of thick grass.

“I pulled into the first pocket and on my third flip I nabbed a three pounder,” said Fitts. “Within a 20-foot stretch, I was able to catch two more five-pounders. I had a limit by 9:30 a.m. and caught my last keeper to make a final cull around 3 p.m. I was really excited about what I was bringing to the scale.”

Fitts weighed in a tournament-best limit of 23 pounds, 15 ounces to move inside the top-10 cut in sixth place. Fitts said he followed the same pattern on day three and was able to catch his final limit out of a 20-yard stretch using a Summer Craw-colored Rage Tail.

“It was a slower bite on day three,” said Fitts. “I only had four bass until about 20 minutes left to fish. I culled once more and brought in what I had. It ended up working out well.”

The top 10 pros on Lake Dardanelle were:

  1.          Jeff Fitts, Keystone Heights, Fla., 13 bass, 48-10, $48,000
  2.          Daniel Kweekul, Bryant, Ark., 15 bass, 47-14, $19,500
  3.          Teddy Bogard, Pine Bluff, Ark., 15 bass, 47-0, $14,000
  4.          Todd Castledine, Nacogdoches, Texas, 11 bass, 45-3, $12,000
  5.          Evan Barnes, Hot Springs, Ark., 15 bass, 44-12, $11,000
  6.          Zach King, Clarksville, Ark., 13 bass, 43-0, $9,000
  7.          Christopher Jones, Bokoshe, Okla., 14 bass, 40-2, $7,800
  8.          Greg Jones, Wentzville, Mo., 13 bass, 39-7, $6,800
  9.          Joe McClary, Kirkwood, Mo., 11 bass, 32-2, $5,800
  10.          Brandon Hunter, Benton, Ky., 11 bass, 31-14, $4,400    

Complete results can be found at

Mike Foree of Osage Beach, Missouri, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the pro division Thursday, a fish weighing 7 pounds, 10 ounces that earned him the day’s Big Bass award of $300.

Drew Sagely of Rogers, Arkansas, won the co-angler division and a $28,000 prize package, including a Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower Mercury outboard motor. Sagely earned his win with a three-day total catch of 11 bass weighing 29 pounds, 1 ounce.  

The top 10 co-anglers on Lake Dardanelle were:

  1.           Drew Sagely, Rogers, Ark., 11 bass, 29-1, $28,000
  2.           Michael Watson, Chicago, Ill., 11 bass, 29-0, $6,000
  3.           Rob Crane, Fairview Heights, Ill., nine bass, 24-2, $4,800
  4.           Kevin Raposo, Doniphan, Mo., nine bass, 23-4, $3,900
  5.           Roger Olson Jr., Eagle River, Wis., seven bass, 20-14, $3,400
  6.           Rusty Reinoehl, Robinson, Ill., eight bass, 19-13, $2,900
  7.           Alan Bernicky, Joliet, Ill., seven bass, 19-12, $2,400
  8.           Kyle Landers, Benton, Ark., eight bass, 18-11, $1,950
  9.           Sawyer Grace, Russellville, Ark., five bass, 17-4, $1,580
  10.           Ricky Watkins, Springdale, Ark., six bass, 16-4, $1,330

Charles Radford of Sullivan, Missouri, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the co-angler division Thursday, a bass weighing 7 pounds, 9 ounces that earned him the day’s Big Bass award of $200.

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