Bryan Thrift has been one of the top anglers in the world for nearly a decade but was missing that one elusive title, the FLW Cup. He got that monkey off his back this weekend on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs when he brought in 10 pounds, 13 ounces on Sunday to win the FLW Cup by more than 5 pounds with a three day total of 15 bass weighing 38 pounds, 7 ounces. He added another $300,000 with the win pushing his total past $3 million in career earnings with FLW.
Thrift has 7 FLW Tour victories, 2 Angler of the Year titles, numerous FLW records and now the elusive FLW Cup title as well.
His uncanny ability to junk fish his way through tough tournaments is what makes Bryan Thrift one the most impressive anglers in the sport of tournament bass fishing. This week was no exception. Using more than 8 different lures and techniques to weigh 15 bass this week, Thrift caught steady limits in a variety of depths and conditions on Lake Hamilton. Overcast skies, fog, rain, wind, calm, hot, sunny, etc. It just didn’t matter as Thrift was adjusting his game plan moment by moment and hour by hour.
A the first day weigh-in, Thrift mentioned he scrapped his entire practice and had to make it up as he went along.
“I’m wore slam out,” Thrift said. “I really am. I fished as hard as I ever have in my life today. I’m tired, but I’m feeling good.
“Today started out actually pretty good,” he said. “I ran to a place that I knew Schmitt was catching them schooling, and I knew he didn’t make the cut. So I went in there, and sure enough they were schooling like crazy. I caught a limit fairly quickly at probably about 8 or 8:30. It didn’t weigh much; maybe 7 or 7 1/2 pounds. And I’m thinking, ‘Shoot, I’ve got all day to upgrade. This is good. We’re good to go.’
“So that helped slow me down and give me confidence. But at about 12:30, I hadn’t had another bite. I had one area that I’d caught most of my weight in in the last hour and a half each day in Hot Springs Creek. So I ran in there at 12:30. I said, ‘If I’m gonna win it, I’m gonna win it back here.’ I didn’t crank the boat until 3:30 and ended up culling three.”
Thrift caught fish on 8 different fishing lures including buzzbaits, walking topwaters, plastic worms both Texas rigged and drop shot rigged, 5 different deep diving crankbaits, and a Damiki Rig Underspin and a Damiki Armor Shad combo.
On the final day he caught some fish early schooling, but most of the week he focused on topwaters around docks and fishing crankbaits and worms around 15 to 20 brush piles all over the lake. After securing a small limit early the final morning on the underspin, he hunkered down in Hot Springs Creek and fished a flat that he recounted was full of shad with three small brush piles scattered on it and was able to cull up 3 times before check-in.
This tournament left a lot of accomplished anglers wondering what happened and what could have been. So many guys talked about their good practices and then their fish disappearing and not figuring out until the second day that the game plan was gone and you had to just fish and make it up as you went. That is when Bryan Thrift is the hardest to beat and why he can now join the exclusive list of FLW Cup champions.