Pro Johnny McCombs of Morris, Alabama, weighed in just two bass totaling 5 pounds, 4 ounces Sunday, but it was enough to win the $100,000 prize at the FLW Tour event at Beaver Lake presented by General Tire. McCombs earned the win by 2-pound, 6-ounce margin over second place pro Jason Reyes of Huffman, Texas, in the four-day event hosted by Visit Rogers, that featured a field of 161 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals competing in one of the most challenging tournaments in recent FLW history.
Another round of severe thunderstorms swept through northwest Arkansas Saturday night, bringing water levels up an estimated 4 or 5 feet overnight. The muddy water that greeted the final 10 anglers Sunday proved to be an extreme challenge, as only two anglers were able to bring a five-bass limit to the scale. McCombs only managed two keepers, but they were enough to earn the Alabama angler the victory in his first season back on Tour after a 14-year hiatus.
“I still can’t believe it,” said McCombs, a three-time Forrest Wood Cup qualifier who earned his first career victory. “This one probably won’t sink in for a while, but it was a long time coming. It’s so awesome to be back out here and doing what I love again, and this $100,000 will go a long way.”
McCombs said that he caught most of his fish – including the tournament-best 18 pound, 15 ounce limit Saturday – fishing grass and bushes in flooded pockets. His bait of choice was a white and chartreuse-colored War Eagle Buzzbait with a Zoom Horny Toad. He said all of the fish that he weighed in this week came via the buzzbait except for one, when he followed up on a missed strike to the buzzbait with a jig.
“I just kept working my way down the bank and trying to keep my bait in the strike zone for as long as I could,” McCombs said. “I was fishing the flooded bank – grass, people’s front yards and lawns, boat docks – anything that looked good. The water got too high today, and that’s why I didn’t get many bites. I missed a couple and I probably should have weighed in 14 pounds, but I just couldn’t hook them up today. Luckily I caught the two that I needed.”
The top 10 pros on Beaver Lake finished:
1st: Johnny McCombs, Morris, Ala., 17 bass, 47-1, $100,000
2nd: Jason Reyes, Huffman, Texas, 18 bass, 44-11, $30,000
3rd: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 20 bass, 43-3, $25,000
4th: Keith Bryan, Novato, Calif., 20 bass, 42-14, $20,000
5th: Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., 18 bass, 40-10, $19,000
6th: Scott Canterbury, Odenville, Ala., 18 bass, 39-8, $18,000
7th: John Cox, DeBary, Fla., 16 bass, 38-7, $17,000
8th: Christopher Brasher, Longview, Texas, 18 bass, 37-8, $16,000
9th: Brandon McMillan, Clewiston, Fla., 16 bass, 36-0, $15,000
10th: Dean Alexander, Georgetown, Texas, 16 bass, 34-5, $14,000
Complete results for the entire field can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Overall there were 28 bass weighing 55 pounds, 2 ounces caught by pros Sunday. Two of the final 10 pros weighed in five-bass limits.
Charley Slaton of Valliant, Oklahoma, won the co-angler division and $20,000 Friday with a two-day total of nine bass weighing 17 pounds, 15 ounces, followed by Billy Messer of Spartanburg, South Carolina, who finished in second place with 10 bass weighing 17 pounds, 14 ounces, worth $7,550.