photo courtesy of Minn Kota Motors
Keystone Light pro Brent Ehrler brought the largest stringer to the scales Sunday â€“ for the third time in four days of competition â€“ to win the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude. Ehrler weighed in a five-bass limit worth 14 pounds, 11 ounces to win the $125,000 prize after leading wire-to-wire in the four-day tournament.
The Redlands, Calif., native weighed in 20 bass totaling 60 pounds, 9 ounces throughout the four days of competition. Second-place pro Jacob Powroznik of Prince George, Va., weighed in 20 bass totaling 53 pounds, 5 ounces, giving Ehrler the win with a decisive 7-pound, 4-ounce margin.
â€œThis was one of the toughest tournaments that I have ever fished,â€ said Ehrler, who became only the third angler in FLW history to surpass $2 million in career earnings with his win on Sunday. â€œI was so stressed out; I was waking up at 2 or 3 a.m. every morning thinking about where I was going to fish that day. Fortunately, I was able to catch a couple of big ones off of a couple of areas where I knew they lived. They were very tough to catch, though.
â€œMost of the fish that I weighed in this week came on a green pumpkin-colored Yamamoto Senko wacky-rigged with a Gamakatsu Wacky Jig,â€ Ehrler continued. â€œThe other guys weren’t doing that. The only other angler that I think was throwing a Senko was Cody Meyer (who finished in eighth place). It was one of the keys for me this week, as the bigger fish really favored that Senko worm.
â€œThree or four fish that I weighed in earlier this week came from drop-shotting a morning dawn-colored Roboworm,â€ Ehrler said. â€œToday, the conditions changed and the wind was blowing real hard. I picked up a Picasso School E Rig when it got nasty and was able to catch my kicker on it. After that, I was able to slow down and relax. I culled up a few more times in the afternoon on the Senko.â€
Ehrler said he fished mostly around the main body of Ryan Creek and never tried venturing back into the pockets as some anglers did. He found his fish in the trees using Humminbird Side Imaging and that was key to catching the better quality fish this week that were staging before the spawn.
â€œThose fish are coming off that main river and starting to stage,â€ he said. â€œThey were suspending deep on the trees. I would throw the Senko, and the bait would take a long time to get down there.â€
After his second-place finish at the first FLW Tour event of the year last month at Lake Okeechobee and his victory today on Lewis Smith Lake, Ehrler now has his sights set on even bigger prizes â€“ Kellogg’s Angler of the Year and Forrest Wood Cup champion.
â€œI’ve been real close in the past, but I’ve never had that Angler of the Year title,â€ Ehrler said. â€œTo be in the hunt for Angler of the Year feels really great right now, but my number one goal is always to make it to the Forrest Wood Cup. That’s the most prestigious tournament that you can ever win. We’re early in the season, but I feel good right now and I hope it can pan out for me for the rest of the year.â€
The top 10 pros finished the tournament in:
1st: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 20 bass, 60-9, $125,000
2nd: Jacob Powroznik, Prince George, Va., 20 bass, 53-5, $35,000
3rd: Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 20 bass, 50-8, $30,000
4th: Jason Christie, Park Hill, Okla., 20 bass, 50-5, $25,000
5th: Koby Kreiger, Okeechobee, Fla., 20 bass, 50-3, $20,000
6th: Zell Rowland, Montgomery, Texas, 19 bass, 49-9, $17,000
7th: Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla., 20 bass, 47-4, $16,000
8th: Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., 20 bass, 46-5, $15,000
9th: Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 20 bass, 45-13, $14,000
10th: Ray Scheide, Dover, Ark., 20 bass, 43-14, $13,000
A complete list of results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.
Overall there were 50 bass weighing 116 pounds, 10 ounces caught by pros Saturday. The catch included 10 five-bass limits.
Hoyt Tidwell of West Point, Tenn., won the co-angler division and $20,000 Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 34 pounds, 1 ounce followed by Anthony Goggins of Auburn, Ala., in second place with 15 bass weighing 29-5 worth $7,500.