Bradley Dortch Wins 2016 Costa FLW Series on Wheeler Lake / FLW Photo

Dortch Wins Costa FLW Series on Wheeler Lake

A cool skipping swim jig pattern leads Alabama angler to victory.

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

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.


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