Bryan Thrift of Shelby, North Carolina, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 11 pounds, 11 ounces, Saturday to win the Walmart FLW Tour Invitational at Lake Norman presented by Lowrance. Thrift’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 34 pounds, 12 ounces earned him the win by a slim 6-ounce margin over second place angler Scott Beattie of Lincolnton, North Carolina, in the first FLW Tour Invitational event of 2016. For his win Thrift earned $71,000 and became the second angler – joining 2016 Forrest Wood Cup champion John Cox – to punch his ticket to the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup.
“This is the lake I learned how to fish on,” said Thrift, who also won an FLW Tour event on Lake Norman in 2010. “I’m able to run to specific areas where I know fish are supposed to be. If I don’t get a bite, I can go somewhere else. This week I ran through what I normally run on this lake.
“Most of my fish came from docks and rocks – a lot of bank-related areas,” Thrift continued. “My biggest catches came from the docks. I fished the entire lake all three days and I burned around 35 gallons of gas each day.”
Thrift said he used 10 different baits throughout the week, citing a 4-inch Pearl Blue-colored Damiki Anchovy Shad, a handtied jig and a white buzzbait as his key lures.
“A River2Sea Whopper Plopper and a crankbait also came in handy,” said Thrift. “I had 15 rods on the deck and used every one of them. That’s what makes fishing on Lake Norman so fun. I can go from throwing a buzzbait on a rocky bank to skipping a jig under a dock to throwing a swimbait out deep. It was an awesome week.”
The top 20 pros finished the tournament:
1st: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 15 bass, 34-12, $61,000 + $10,000 Ranger Cup Bonus
2nd: Scott Beattie, Lincolnton, N.C., 15 bass, 34-6, $18,340
3rd: Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 15 bass, 33-9, $15,200
4th: Todd Hollowell, Fishers, Ind., 15 bass, 33-9, $12,160
5th: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 15 bass, 32-14, $9,120
6th: William Shelton, La Crosse, Va., 15 bass, 32-12, $7,904
7th: Quaker State pro Scott Canterbury, Springville, Ala., 15 bass, 31-14, $7,600
8th: Tracy Adams, Wilkesboro, N.C., 15 bass, 31-7, $7,296
9th: Michael Stephens , Gastonia, N.C., 15 bass, 31-4, $6,992
10th: John Cox, DeBary, Fla., 15 bass, 31-3, $6,688
11th: Walmart pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 15 bass, 30-15, $6,080
12th: Jason Meninger, Gainesville, Ga., 15 bass, 30-9, $6,080
13th: Quaker State pro Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C., 15 bass, 30-9, $6,080
14th: George Hirapetian, Charlotte, N.C., 14 bass, 29-10, $6,080
15th: Joseph Webster, Fulton, Miss., 15 bass, 29-8, $6,080
16th: T-H Marine pro Luke Dunkin, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., 15 bass, 29-5, $6,080
17th: Rodney Morrow, Hickory, N.C., 15 bass, 29-4, $6,080
18th: Shane LeHew, Mooresville, N.C., 15 bass, 29-1, $6,080
19th: Chris Gosselaar, Fresno, Calif., 15 bass, 28-0, $6,080
20th: Ronald Farrow, Rock Hill, S.C., 12 bass, 25-15, $6,080
For a full list of results visit FLWFishing.com.
Overall there were 97 bass weighing 185 pounds, 2 ounces caught by the 20 pros Saturday. The catch included 18 five-bass limits.
The Walmart FLW Tour Invitational at Lake Norman presented by Lowrance was hosted by Visit Lake Norman, Visit Charlotte and Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation. The next event for FLW Tour anglers will be the second FLW Tour Invitational, held Oct. 20-22 on Norris Lake in Clinton, Tennessee. The tournament will be presented by Quaker State and hosted by the Anderson County Tourism Council.
The 2017 Forrest Wood Cup – the world championship of bass fishing – will be held Aug. 11 to 13 on Lake Murray in Columbia, South Carolina. The event is being hosted by the Capital City Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.