General Tire pro Tai Au of Glendale, Arizona, brought five bass to the scale Saturday totaling 16 pounds, 15 ounces to win the three-day Toyota Series at Lake Havasu event in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Au won the event by a 1-pound, 12-ounce margin after bringing a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 61-3 to the scale. For his win, Au earned a payout of $26,589 in the opening tournament of the 2020 Toyota Series Western Division season.
"I've dreamt about this moment for a long time," Au said on stage. "I've been close so many times. This is my 15th top-10, and for a while there I thought it just was never going to happen; it wasn't in the cards for me. I woke up this morning at midnight, just getting teary-eyed thinking about it. I've got a lot of friends supporting me, and I want to thank them for that."
Au opened the tournament Thursday with the biggest limit of the week. Four of the five keepers he weighed in he caught while sight-fishing. Day one was by far the best day of the event. Sunny skies in the morning made bed-fishing easy. Plus, there were tons of unpressured bass on beds to be caught. That changed when afternoon and evening rains on Thursday dirtied parts of the lake and were followed up with post-frontal weather on Friday, which really challenged many anglers. Au threw everything he had at them and had to do much of the same today.
"As far as numbers-wise, I did all I could today," Au said. "I went out there and ran the same stuff and caught a whole lot more today than I did the first and second day.
"I just went junk-fishing. I checked a few of my beds. They weren't there. I did catch one on a bed. That was a 2½-pound male that was on the same bed with my 7-pounder that I caught, so I went back and caught it today to put it in my livewell just to cull it out later. I caught one of my nicer ones on an Evergreen Jack Hammer with a Zako Paddle Tail trailer. I caught one flipping a Flappin' Hog. I caught two on a Senko, and about five or six on a Daiwa Neko Fat."
Au spent his time in areas where he saw the best quality fish on beds in practice. Knowing there were good ones around gave him the confidence to stay in those areas. From there, his strategy was to fish whatever looked good in front of him, cycling through all the baits he knew he could get bit with, but he focused mostly on tules, which is "where the largemouth are."
"Deep tules, shallow tules, it didn't matter as long as there were tules nearby I was catching them," Au said.
"It was just a matter of running into them and making the right cast. I felt like I made a million casts out there. I left it all out there. I know for a fact I couldn't have done anything else."
The top 10 pros on Lake Havasu finished:
1st: Tai Au of Glendale, Ariz., 15 bass, 61-3, $26,589
2nd: Jordan Collom of Temecula, Calif., 15 bass, 59-7, $10,303
3rd: Todd Kline of San Clemente, Calif., 15 bass, 57-5, $7,977
4th: Michael Caruso of Peoria, Ariz., 15 bass, 56-13, $6,647
5th: Kyle Grover of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., 15 bass, 55-0, $5,982
6th: Tanner Austin of Shingle Springs, Calif., 15 bass, 54-13, $5,318
7th: Kevin Hugo of Canyon Lake, Calif., 14 bass, 53-10, $5,653
8th: Clayton Eslick of Gilroy, Calif., 14 bass, 49-2, $3,988
9th: Kevin Caruso of Glendale, Ariz., 15 bass, 48-15, $3,824
10th: Lane Olson of Tigard, Ore., 15 bass, 47-9, $2,659
A complete list of results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Hugo took home an extra $1,000 as the highest finishing FLW PHOENIX BONUS member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $35,000 per event in each Toyota Series tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the FLW PHOENIX BONUS contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.
Delaney Dwyer of Scottsdale, Arizona, brought a 7-pound, 12-ounce largemouth bass to the scale Thursday – the largest fish weighed by a boater in the event – to earn the day's Big Bass award of $76.
Jack Farrage of Discovery Bay, California, won the Co-angler Division Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 43 pounds, 3 ounces. For his win, Farrage took home the top prize package of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard motor, worth $33,500.
The top 10 co-anglers on Lake Havasu finished:
1st: Jack Farage of Discovery Bay, Calif., 15 bass, 43-3, $33,500
2nd: Ty Faber of Pagosa Springs, Colo., 15 bass, 43-2, $3,438
3rd: James Hollingshead of Clarkston, Wash., 13 bass, 37-5, $2,950
4th: Kevin Gross of Claremont, Calif., 12 bass, 35-15, $2,457
5th: Zack Eggleston of Goleta, Calif., 15 bass, 34-9, $2,063
6th: Jacob Traba of Pacifica, Calif., 12 bass, 33-15, $1,719
7th: James Poff of Apple Valley, Calif., 13 bass, 32-6, $1,375
8th: Clint Messner of North Bend, Ore., 12 bass, 31-13, $1,203
9th: Aaron Seay of El Cajon, Calif., 12 bass, 29-11, $1,031
10th: Mark Bowman of San Dimas, Calif., 10 bass, 27-7, $860
Co-angler Gabriel Diaz of Nuevo, California, brought the largest bass of the tournament on the co-angler side to the scale on Friday, weighing 6 pounds, 8 ounces to win the day's Co-angler Big Bass award of $50.