On Monday, the 35 angler field was cut to the Tundra 10 for the final day of the 2015 Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Lake Fork. Over the first two days of competition, Oklahoma’s Jason Christie built a 5 pound lead over his closest competitor, Chris Lane, but seven of the Tundra 10 started the day within 10 pounds of the lead.
Brent Ehrler was one of the anglers within striking distance, entering championship Monday in 5th place with a total weight of 58 pounds, 4 ounces. Despite averaging over 29 pounds a day for the first two days of competition, the California pro had yet to catch a bass surpassing the 24-inch slot length.
That changed shortly before 1:00 p.m. on Monday, when Ehrler boated a 10 pound, 11 ounce bass to take over the top spot on the leaderboard. The Lake Fork giant proved to be the Tundra Big Bass of the tournament, earning him a brand new Toyota Tundra valued at $35,000.
The big bass also anchored Ehrler’s final day limit weighing 31 pounds, 8 ounces. With a three-day total weight of 89 pounds, 12 ounces, Brent Ehrler lifted the 2015 TTBC trophy and added another title to his already impressive résumé that includes a 2006 Forrest Wood Cup victory and four FLW Tour victories.
In his typical calm and cool style, Ehrler said that it was hard to put into words what the TTBC title meant to him. “I’m still kind of shocked. I really didn’t think that I had a great chance to win today because I was so far behind,” he explained. “This win ranks way up there for me. At Media Day on Thursday, they presented Keith Combs with his 2014 championship ring, and I remember thinking, ‘It would be really cool to have a ring like that.’ I never expected that it would actually happen.”
For the duration of the tournament, Ehrler fished offshore with a trio of baits including a Lucky Craft 3.5XD crankbait in shad color, 6-inch hollow bodied swimbait in shad color on a 3/4 oz. BOSS Swimbait Jig Head, and a ¾ oz. BOSS Football Jig Head tipped with a Yamamoto trailer. He used Daiwa rods and reels spooled with Sunline fluorocarbon for all of his presentations.
He caught the bulk of his weight slow rolling the swimbait, but he also caught several fish that helped on the crankbait and two key fish on the football head jig, including his biggest fish on Sunday and a 6-pounder on Monday.
Ehrler said that the key to his victory was using his Humminbird graph to find the winning school of fish early on the first day of practice. “I saw some fish down there, and on one of my first casts I hooked a 6-pounder. When I was reeling it in, I noticed a bunch of other big ones following the hooked fish back to the boat,” he explained. “I immediately knew that I’d found a spot that could be very productive.”
On Monday, he caught a limit weighing 23 pounds off his primary area and then boated the 10-pounder and a 6-pounder off his secondary area in the afternoon. “Both areas that I fished were basically points that extended out into the lake and then dropped off,” he explained.
Along with winning the Toyota Tundra for catching the largest bass of the tournament, Ehrler also took home a check for $150,000.
2nd place finisher Jason Christie didn’t catch his first keeper until 9:30 a.m. on Monday, when he boated a 7 pound, 12 ounce largemouth. By then, his 5 pound lead had evaporated and he was trailing the on-the-water leader by more than 18 pounds.
Christie rebounded nicely, catching two quality bass in the final hour of competition to nearly pull off the wire-to-wire victory. He finished with a total weight of 87 pounds, 12 ounces.
With three FLW Tour victories and two Elite Series victories since 2011, the 2015 TTBC title would have capped an impressive five year run for Christie, but he had no regrets with how he fished this week on Lake Fork.
“I felt like this event was going to be won offshore, so I just decided to stick with it,” he explained. “The area that I fished really doesn’t look that great on the map. I fished the area last year in the TTBC, so I idled over it during practice this year and I saw a couple fish down there. That’s where I ended up catching my 10-pounder on Saturday and four of my keepers yesterday.
“I fished 12 to 15 places each day, but I had three or four spots where I spent quite a bit of time fishing, and two stops that I considered to be my primary areas,” continued Christie. “I spent most of the tournament fishing the lower third of the lake based on the water clarity.”
Christie fished a myriad of deep diving crankbaits, but caught several of his key fish on a silent Bomber Fat Free Shad BD7. He also threw a number of different 6- to 7-inch hollow bodied swimbaits, including an out-of-production YUM Money Minnow rigged on a 1 oz. jighead. He fished with Lew’s baitcasting reels spooled with Sunline fluorocarbon line and Falcon rods.
Tennessee’s Andy Morgan flirted with the lead for the duration of the tournament, but he was never able to garner the big bites that he needed to reach the summit. Starting the final day in 6th place, Morgan made waves early on Monday morning after boating a 25 pound limit within the first hour of competition. He was unable to upgrade for the remainder of the day, however, and finished in 3rd place with a total weight of 83 pounds, 12 ounces.
“It seemed like I hit a brick wall once I reached the 25 pound mark,” lamented Morgan, who spent the whole week with a swimbait, crankbait, and big worm on the front deck of his boat. “Every fish that I ended up weighing-in came on a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm in green pumpkin rigged with a 1/2 oz. weight.”
The reigning FLW Tour Angler Of the Year rotated between four spots this week on Lake Fork. “I fished a lot of corners and points that actually connected to the bank and were on the edge of timberlines,” he explained.
Alabama’s Chris Lane was the only angler in the Tundra 10 who exclusively fished a shallow water pattern this week on Lake Fork. He finished in 4th place with a total weight of 83-8. He relied on a heavy black and blue flipping jig and a white Snag Proof frog.
Shad Schenck rounded out the top five with a total weight of 81 pounds, 4 ounces. The Indiana pro, who qualified for the tournament through the FLW Tour, caught every single fish that he weighed-in off of a single point that featured a small hump with a hard spot. His fish came on a Buckeye ¾ oz. football jig, magnum finesse worm rigged on a ½ oz. jighead, dropshot, and Carolina-rig.
In total, five of the 35 competitors including Jason Christie, John Crews, Mike Iaconelli, Shad Schenck, and Brent Ehrler, caught a Lake Fork bass surpassing the 24-inch slot length.
Jason Christie won the LEER Heavyweight award for his 37 pound, 4 ounce limit on Saturday.
Due to severe storms and heavy rainfall, the weigh-in venue and activities were closed to the public on Sunday and Monday.