EUFAULA, Ala. - Pro Randy Haynes of Counce, Tenn., displayed why he is known as one of the best deep-water ledge fisherman in the country as he targeted the Lake Eufaula ledges to win convincingly Sunday at the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Eufaula presented by Straight Talk Wireless. Haynes’ five bass weighing 16 pounds, 1 ounce gave him a four-day weight of 73 pounds, 1 ounce – 11 pounds heavier than second place – as well as the championship trophy and the $125,000 purse.
“There are an awful lot of good fisherman out here,” said Haynes, who was fishing only his third event as a pro at the sport’s highest level, the Walmart FLW Tour. “Everything has to go just right for you in order to win a tournament of this size. I’ve really been blessed this entire week.”
Haynes said that he had five or six different areas that he fished throughout the week, but that he really only concentrated on three today.
“Today, I was just trying to catch a limit and get by,” Haynes said. “I had three main spots where I was fishing, and I was rotating through them, giving them a few hours of rest before I would go back. I figured out that they were setting up in different ways. In the early morning, they would suspend in front of the bars. I’d fish a swimbait, and they really started eating.”
Haynes said that most of his fish this week came from throwing a mixture of swimbaits and cranking Strike King 5XD and 6XD crankbaits. His go-to rod-and-reel combination for the week was a Kistler Mark Rose Signature Series Z-Bone crankbait rod paired with a Lew’s BB1 reel.
“That rod and reel is just an unbelievable combination,” Haynes said. “I was using 14- to 20-pound-test line when I was fishing the swimbait, and 14-pound-test line when I was cranking.
“I’m real lucky that I have been able to stay on the road with Mark Rose and Greg Bohannan,” Haynes continued. “It’s nice to be with two great guys like that, and I’ve learned a lot. They are definitely one of the reasons that I am up here.
“This is pretty awesome,” said Haynes of his win. “I’m so happy for my family and friends. There are so many people back home that I compete for, and against. This is just special for me to do this for them.”
Chevy pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., finished in second place with a four-day total of 19 bass weighing 62 pounds, 1 ounce. He earned $35,000 for his efforts.
The top 10 pros finished the tournament in:
1st: Randy Haynes, Counce, Tenn., 20 bass, 73-1, $125,000
2nd: Chevy pro Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 19 bass, 62-1, $35,000
3rd: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 18 bass, 61-0, $30,000
4th: Castrol pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 20 bass, 60-12, $25,000
5th: Stetson Blaylock, Benton, Ark., 20 bass, 59-9, $20,000
6th: Kelley Jaye, Dadeville, Ala., 20 bass, 59-6, $17,000
7th: Straight Talk pro J.T. Kenney, Palm Bay, Fla., 17 bass, 52-15, $16,000
8th: John Devere, Berea, Ky., 15 bass, 51-7, $15,000
9th: David Fritts, Lexington, N.C., 18 bass, 51-2, $14,000
10th: Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., 16 bass, 47-12, $13,500
A complete list of results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.
Overall there were 38 bass weighing 109 pounds, 15 ounces caught by pros Sunday. The catch included six five-bass limits.
Bryan New of Belmont, N.C., won the co-angler division and $20,000 Saturday with a three-day total of 11 bass weighing 27 pounds, 7 ounces, followed by Jason Johnson of Gainesville, Ga., in second place with 10 bass weighing 24 pounds, 13 ounces worth $7,500.
Pros competed for a top award of up to $125,000 this week plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing. The top 35 anglers in the point standings from the six events on the 2013 Walmart FLW Tour will qualify. The 2013 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Shreveport, La., Aug. 15-18 on the Red River.
The Tour stop on Lake Eufaula presented by Straight Talk Wireless was hosted by the Eufaula Barbour Chamber of Commerce and was the fourth of six events on the Walmart FLW Tour’s 2013 season. The next Walmart FLW Tour event will be held at Grand Lake June 6-9 in Grove, Okla., and is presented by Castrol. The event will be hosted by the Grand Lake Association and boats will launch from Wolf Creek Park in Grove. For a complete schedule, visit FLWOutdoors.com.
Coverage of the Lake Eufaula tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs June 23 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWOutdoors.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.
By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Randy Haynes has had a lot of good days on Pickwick Lake, but not many better than day 1 of last week's Central EverStart.
"It was one of those where I could've just walked up to the bank and caught 20 pounds," he said. "I caught them all day long.
"Those only come along once in a blue moon. Every call I made was right."
Haynes, who's lived on the shore of Pickwick since 1999 and has won four FLW-sanctioned events at that venue, took charge of the derby with his 33-01 opening-day sack and remained in the top slot the rest of the way. His prize package, which was in excess of $30,000, pushed his career earnings total with the organization to more than $200,000.
The first-year Tour pro amassed a 79-12 total over 3 days, outdistancing runner-up Jeff Suratt by 3-11. Here's how he did it.
Haynes has traditionally spent about 150 days a year on Pickwick, but that number will be down this year as he's competing on both the FLW Tour and the PAA Tournament Series. Nonetheless, his local knowledge is vast.
He began practicing in earnest for the EverStart on the Friday preceding the event.
"I was looking for the offshore (crankbait) bite, and that's kind of needle in a haystack at this time of year," he said. "You have to put a lot of time in to find those scattered schools.
"I found about 20 groups, but I lost some with the water coming up about 3 feet during practice and the tournament. I don't know if some of those deeper fish just got too much water on them or too much current.
"With those gates being open, though, I found some other ones."
He targeted three specific types of cover – humps and ledges in 13 to 30 feet, points and knobs with current in 8 to 15 feet (which produced some of his largest specimens) and gravel bars in 5 to 30 feet. He had about 40 places in all, but his primary rotation consisted of only six or seven.
> Day 1: 5, 33-01
> Day 2: 5, 19-12
> Day 3: 5, 26-14
> Total = 15, 79-11
Haynes estimated that he caught as many as 275 fish over the course of the event. None were bigger than the 8-10 that highlighted his massive day-1 haul.
"I caught two good ones that day from places I'd never fished before in my life," he said. "That's because there was such a high (current) generation going. I think having that much water really blind-sided a lot of people."
He took a 5 1/2-pound lead into windy day 2, but ended up losing most of that margin.
"The bite wasn't as good," he said. "I also lost my trolling motor at about 10:30 or 11:00 just trying to hold the boat out in the river.
"I had enough power to keep the boat straight, but I had to drift backward. Late that day I culled three times doing that, and one was about a 5 1/2-pounder."
His lead had been reduced to just 13 ounces, and the early part of the final day provided no call for extreme confidence.
"It was kind of scary. I pulled up to the first school and they fired good, but the quality wasn't there. I probably caught 20 fish and I kept four for about 12 pounds.
"I went and did a bunch of idling for 2 1/2 hours trying to find a new, fresh school that had just moved out there, but I couldn't do it so I started running my stuff. I rotated back to my starting spot at mid-morning and got a couple that were right at 5 pounds."
He made a cull at his next stop, and then pulled a 6 1/2 off an area that often surrenders a single quality bite. He then returned to his initial locale and continued to upgrade.
"I don't know if the sun coming out was the difference, but it eventually got to be like the first day all over again."
> Cranking gear: 7'11" medium- or heavy-action Kistler Mark Rose Signature Series Cranking rod, Lew's BB1 casting reel, 10- or 14-pound Sunline FC Sniper fluorocarbon line, Strike King 6XD or 10XD (sexy shad or citrus shad).
The Bottom Line
> Main factor in his success – "I'd have to say my wife for taking care of everything at home and letting me get out there and keep my mind on fishing, and all my friends who where behind me. Also on the last day, Mark Rose (the eventual 5th-place finisher) went and fished totally different stuff and really turned me loose. We fish so much alike and share so much information that it's really hard to catch fish going behind each other."
> Performance edge – "It was a combination of the Kistler rods and the BB1s and the Ranger/Mercury/MotorGuide. It was pretty rough out there a lot of the time and everything stayed together."