Rick Taylor of West Olive, Mich., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the EverStart Series Southeast Division event on Wheeler Lake with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 57 pounds, 9 ounces. After starting the day in 10th place, Taylor weighed the heaviest sack of the day to claim victory. For his win, Taylor earned $28,958. “That’s a good day of fishing,” Taylor exclaimed after receiving his prize.
On a lake that was described as being charged with current, Taylor started and ended the tournament with the current. According to Taylor it was the current that kept moving the fish into his prime fishing area and as the water got lower, the fish got more plentiful.
“I was fishing a big brush pocket on the edge of the current that was a spawning area,” Taylor said. “I fished the same area on the first day as I did on the last day. It was probably a five acre area and I just kept going in one big circle.
“There were about 10 or 12 boats fishing the area on the first day of competition. But then on the second day of the tournament the wind blew so hard that nobody could fish it.”
Taylor said that was the game changer for him. He believes that it was the wind blowing so hard and keeping anglers from getting into the area on the second day prevented the fish from being beaten-up.
“On the second day I had to go to my back-up areas,” Taylor continued. “I was still flipping brush but I had to work really hard to get the weight I had. I caught about 25 keepers, but they were all 2 ½- to 3-pounders. This whole tournament has just been incredible. I bet I caught about 25 to 30 big fish each day and by big fish I mean 3-pounders. From where I am from (Michigan) that’s considered a big fish.
“I really didn’t think I would be able to overcome a 6-pound deficit, I didn’t think there was a snowballs chance that I would win today. Remarkably I did,” said an overjoyed Taylor.
Taylor was flipping Schubert Tubes in black with a ¼ ounce weight. He said it was the lighter weight that really made the difference. He said that his co-anglers started by using heavier weights without much success, after they followed suit and started using lighter weights the bite really turned on.
The top 10 pros on Wheeler Lake were:
1st: Rick Taylor, West Olive, Mich., 15 bass, 57-9, $28,958
2nd: Straight Talk pro JT Kenney, Palm Bay, Fla., 15 bass, 54-14, $10,859
3rd: Jeff Fitts, Keystone Heights, Fla., 15 bass, 54-11, $7,240
4th: Jordan Lee, Auburn, Ala., 15 bass, 54-8, $6,516
5th: Koby Kreiger, Okeechobee, Fla., 15 bass, 54-5, $5,792
6th: Chad Aaron, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., 15 bass, 51-10, $5,068
7th: Brian Merriman, Falkville, Ala., 15 bass, 51-7, $4,344
8th: William Davis, Sheffield, Ala., 15 bass, 50-14, $3,620
9th: Josh Dorr, Pickens, S.C., 15 bass, 48-12, $2,896
10th: Eddie Jewell, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., 15 bass, 48-3, $2,172
Complete results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.
Lee caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the pro division on Friday, a 6-pound, 15-ounce bass that earned him the day’s EverStart Series Big Bass award of $196.
Nick Thliveros of St. Augustine, Fla., won the co-angler division and a Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard motor with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 48 pounds, 12 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers on Wheeler Lake were:
1st: Nick Thliveros, St. Augustine, Fla., 15 bass, 48-12, Ranger Z117 with 90-horsepower outboard
2nd: Tony Prince, Pulaski, Tenn., 15 bass, 44-11, $3,892
3rd: Lee Frye, Brooksville, Fla., 15 bass, 43-4, $3,113
4th: Scott Towry, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., 15 bass, 42-13, $2,724
5th: Nick Cupps, Decatur, Ala., 15 bass, 41-7, $2,335
6th: Michael Stewart, Pell City, Ala., 13 bass, 41-5, $1,946
7th: Ethan Cox, West End, N.C., 15 bass, 37-13, $1,557
8th: Brent Chitty, Moultrie, Ga., 15 bass, 37-0, $1,168
9th: Donald Jason, Medina, Ohio, 14 bass, 35-7, $778
10th: Dean Harcourt, Sebastian, Fla., 13 bass, 33-8, $623
Brad Horton of Niceville, Fla., caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the co-angler division Friday – a 5-pound, 12-ounce bass – that earned him the day’s EverStart Series Big Bass award of $130.
The EverStart Series consists of five divisions – Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments where competitors are vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Strike King Angler of the Year title, which allows them to fish the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup.
The Wheeler Lake event was the fourth and final event in the Southeast Division. Tony Davis of Williston, Fla., took home the Strike King Angler of the Year title in the Southeast Division and has earned an invitation to the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWOutdoors.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the EverStart Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter atTwitter.com/FLWFishing.