Bradley Dortch of Bay Minette, Alabama, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division finale on Wheeler Lake presented by Mercury with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 45 pounds, 10 ounces. For his win, Dortch took home $40,000.
“I spent each day of the tournament targeting postspawn bass on the Elk River,” said Dortch, who earned his first win in FLW competition. “I focused on stretches of bank on the outsides of spawning pockets where fish were moving out from the shallows.
“On day one I rotated between six areas that were 100- to 150-yard stretches of bank,” continued Dortch. “I threw a green-pumpkin Picasso Straight Shooter Swimjig with a green-pumpkin NetBait Paca Craw trailer to laydowns and flipped another Paca Craw under bushes and to undercut banks. I ended up catching six keepers.
Dortch said a specific fish on day one helped him dial in on where the bass were congregating in his areas.
“I skipped the swimjig all the way to the bank where the current had eroded a lip and caught a 3-pounder in six inches of water,” said Dortch. “The bream were feeding right there under the shore. It was a huge discovery for me. From then on, when I skipped laydowns, I made sure to get the bait all the way to the bank into those undercuts. If it didn’t get there, you weren’t getting a bite.”
The Alabama angler said the discovery allowed him to narrow down his six areas to two specific stretches, 15 to 20 miles up the Elk River.
“I kept on skipping and flipping and caught eight keepers on day two and another eight on day three,” said Dortch. “They were good bites, but I was not expecting to win. It was a great tournament.”
The top 10 pros on Wheeler Lake were:
1st: Bradley Dortch, Bay Minette, Ala., 15 bass, 45-10, $40,000
2nd: Kim Carver, Milledgeville, Ga., 15 bass, 44-14, $15,500
3rd: Dustin Smith, Mount Dora, Fla., 15 bass, 44-5, $12,000
4th: Bryan New, Belmont, N.C., 15 bass, 42-2, $10,000
5th: Glenn Browne, Ocala, Fla., 15 bass, 40-8, $9,300
6th: Allan Glasgow, Ashville, Ala., 15 bass, 40-2, $8,000
7th: Terry Tucker, Gadsden, Ala., 15 bass, 39-11, $7,000
8th: Jared Dial, Winter Haven, Fla., 15 bass, 38-10, $6,000
9th: Bradford Beavers, Ridgeville, S.C., 15 bass, 37-5, $5,000
10th: Bryant Adam, Madison, Miss., 12 bass, 30-5, $4,000
Complete results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Browne caught a bass weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces Friday – the biggest bass of the tournament in the pro division – that earned him the day’s Big Bass award of $300.
Allen Armour of Cumming, Georgia, won the co-angler division and a Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower Mercury outboard motor. Armour earned his win with a three-day total catch of 15 bass weighing 32 pounds, 15 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers on Wheeler Lake were:
1st: Allen Armour, Cumming, Ga., 15 bass, 32-15, $27,000
2nd: Scap Cicero, Wetumpka, Ala., 12 bass, 30-1, $5,000
3rd: Doug Logan, Springville, Ala., 14 bass, 29-1, $4,200
4th: Anthony Hunt, Plantation, Fla., 13 bass, 28-0, $3,500
5th: Clint Horton, Ripley, Miss., 12 bass, 24-12, $3,000
6th: Jason Smith, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., 13 bass, 24-10, $2,500
7th: David Hudson, Jasper, Ala., 12 bass, 23-13, $2,000
8th: Josh Robbins, Chesnee, S.C., 12 bass, 23-12, $1,750
9th: Matt Leicher, Athens, Ala., 10 bass, 22-10, $1,500
10th: Eulon Lee Jr., Eclectic, Ala., 10 bass, 20-8, $1,250
Brent Barnes of Chattanooga, Tennessee, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the co-angler division Thursday, a bass weighing 7 pounds, 3 ounces that earned him the day’s Big Bass award of $200.