Matt Arey has been crowned the new “Mr. Beaver Lake.” After winning this same event in 2014, the Shelby, N.C., native caught a five-bass limit Sunday weighing 17 pounds, 13 ounces – the largest stringer weighed in the four-day tournament – to win the Walmart FLW Tour at Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. Arey’s four-day total of 20 bass weighing 55 pounds, 6 ounces earned him the top prize of $125,000.
Arey became the third angler to win multiple events at Beaver Lake in the 17 visits the Walmart FLW Tour has made to the White River impoundment, as FLW Tour pro Clark Wendlandt won there in 1999 and 2001 while former pro Andre Moore won in 2002 and 2005. Arey became the first to win in consecutive years.
“This is an incredible feeling,” said Arey, who has won $250,000 on Beaver Lake in just the past 379 days. “To win two years in a row here is just unthinkable. Experience is everything as a professional angler. The more I do this, the more comfortable and confident I am becoming.”
Arey displayed that confidence Sunday when he dramatically boated his largest fish of the day, an estimated five-pounder. As he casted out and retrieved his swimbait, he noticed the huge fish following his bait all the way to the boat. Out of line, Arey had no choice but to kneel low and drag his bait along the side of the boat. The big bass hit, and Arey immediately boat-swung the fish in a dramatic fashion.
“First, that normally doesn’t happen,” Arey said. “But, back in the day when I was a rookie, I would have stayed standing and just kept winding my bait and the fish would have went back under the dock.
Instead, I was able to keep my composure, knelt down and got the fish to bite and in the boat. It’s experience. You just have to block everything else out and fish against the fish.”
Arey credited two key baits for the majority of his catch this week – a hand-poured homemade swimbait rigged on a 7/0 Gamakatsu EWG Monster hook and a wacky-rigged Lunkerhunt Lunker Stick.
“Each day I would start in Prairie Creek and work my way 6-8 miles up the river,” Arey said. “On the third day I went all the way to the Rocky Branch and Van Hollow areas and caught some key bed fish that really saved my tournament.
“Momentum is huge in this sport, and I really hope that I can carry some of it over into our next event in two weeks on Lake Eufaula.”
The top 10 pros finished the tournament:
1st: Quaker State pro Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C., 20 bass, 55-6
2nd: Tracy Adams, Wilkesboro, N.C., 20 bass, 49-12
3rd: Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 20 bass, 48-10
4th: Rayovac pro Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., 20 bass, 48-10
5th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 20 bass, 46-13
6th: John Cox, Debary, Fla., 18 bass, 46-4
7th: Peter Thliveros, Saint Augustine, Fla., 20 bass, 44-8
8th Livingston Lures pro Stetson Blaylock, Benton, Ark., 19 bass, 44-4
9th: Vic Vatalaro, Kent, Ohio, 20 bass, 43-11
10th: Mike Surman, Boca Raton, Fla., 20 bass, 43-7
A complete list of results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Overall there were 47 bass weighing 110 pounds, 3 ounces caught by pros Sunday. Eight professionals weighed in five-bass limits.
Luke Dunkin of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, won the co-angler division and $20,000 Friday with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 18 pounds, 2 ounces, followed by Todd Lee of Jasper, Alabama, who finished in second place for the second consecutive tournament with 10 bass weighing 17 pounds, 15 ounces worth $7,500.