Boater Jim Neece Jr. of Bristol, Tennessee, brought a final-day limit to the scale Saturday totaling 20 pounds, 9 ounces to vault to the top of the leaderboard and win the three-day Toyota Series at Lake Chickamauga. Neece’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 57-5 gave him the win by a 1-pound, 4-ounce margin and earned him a payout of $40,045 in the Toyota Series Central Division 2020 opener.
Neece left the Dayton Boat Dock Saturday with high hopes. But during the first hour he got worried after only putting one 15-inch bass in the livewell.
“The water came up, and I think the fish just left. They moved shallow,” said Neece. “It completely shut them down. I couldn’t believe it.”
Neece had three areas, all points and breaks on the main river, that he had been fishing consistently. Around 9 a.m. he headed for spot No. 2 near the mouth of Richland Creek. He caught another keeper, and then five minutes later a 4-pounder loaded up on his Zoom Swimmer.
“I calmed down a little after that, but once I got that bite I knew this upper side was going to pay off today,” he said. “I fished two points the rest of the day.”
Neece said that the Zoom Swimmer (chartreuse and blue) was the only bait that he threw all week.
“The only thing I did different is I used an 8:1 gear ratio (reel), which I usually don’t do. It allowed me to keep that swimbait swimming in that current the way it needed to swim. A lower gear ratio wouldn’t allow me to keep up with it,” Neece said.
Neece said patience was also a major factor, especially since he was only fishing two spots.
“My co-angler today got a little frustrated watching me make 50 casts at the exact same spot. But then on that 50th cast I’d catch one.
“I think every 15 to 45 minutes a fish would roll up to feed, and I’d catch it,” he continued. “Then you’d go 15 minutes or even an hour with nothing and then catch another one.”
Neece’s father, Jim Sr., fished on the co-angler side and came in 53rd place. But the elder Neece said it was an incredible experience watching his son climb to the top and hold up the winner’s trophy.
A third generation of the Neece family also fishes competitively. Corey, son of Jim Jr., is a sophomore on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit.
“He (Corey) just about won the Pro Circuit event at Rayburn,” said Jim Sr. “He was 8 ounces out of the lead going into the final day on Rayburn. Jim Jr. was 10 ounces out of the lead going into the final day on Chickamauga. I’m an old man, but I think I got a little bit older these last two days. But I’m proud and blessed just to be part of it. To get to fish with him and be a part of this, it’s all you can ask for.”
The top 10 pros on Lake Chickamauga finished:
1st: Jim Neece Jr. of Bristol, Tenn., 15 bass, 57-5, $40,045
2nd: Brian Elder of Locust Grove, Ga., 15 bass, 56-1, $14,936
3rd: Steve Barnes of Harrison, Tenn., 15 bass, 50-12, $11,563
4th: Josh Norris of Spring City, Tenn., 15 bass, 49-9, $9,636
5th: Brent Butler of Vonore, Tenn., 15 bass, 49-0, $9,314
6th: Tommy Brown of Louisville, Tenn., 14 bass, 43-15, $7,709
7th: Ricky Robinson of Greenback, Tenn., 14 bass, 42-1, $6,745
8th: Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., 14 bass, 41-11, $5,782
9th: Gavin Ainslie of Harrison, Tenn., 10 bass, 38-4, $4,818
10th: Wayne Cook of Gautier, Miss., eight bass, 33-15, $3,854
A complete list of results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Rusty White of Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, brought a 10-pound, 15-ounce largemouth bass to the scale Friday â€“ the largest fish weighed by a boater in the event â€“ to earn the day’s Big Bass award of $141.
Seth Davis of Harrison, Tennessee, 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.
Derrick Myers of Corbin, Kentucky, won the Co-angler Division Saturday with a three-day total of eight bass weighing 32 pounds, 12 ounces. For his win, Myers 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 Chickamauga finished:
1st: Derrick Myers of Corbin, Ky., eight bass, 32-12, $33,500
2nd: Luke Shrader of Barrington, N.J., eight bass, 30-15, $4,836
3rd: Kevin Jones of Somerset, Ky., eight bass, 30-8, $3,868
4th: Travis Akers of Morehead, Ky., eight bass, 25-5, $3,385
5th: Jason Cook of Ooltewah, Tenn., eight bass, 25-0, $2,901
6th: Roger Williams of Moss Point, Miss., five bass, 19-9, $2,418
7th: James Roten of West Jefferson, N.C., nine bass, 18-5, $1,934
8th: Christopher Morgan of Greendale, Wis., six bass, 16-15, $1,692
9th: John Coker of Knoxville, Tenn., six bass, 16-6, $1,451
10th: Darren Jeter of Marshall, N.C., six bass, 15-15, $1,209
Myers also caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Co-angler Division Friday, a fish weighing 10 pounds, 12 ounces. He earned the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $94.