David Fritts of Lexington, N.C., won the Pro Division, and Robert Rikard of Lexington, S.C., won the Co-Angler Division.
Fritts led wire-to-wire, grabbing a nearly 8-pound lead the first day and finishing with four 5-bass limits for a total of 59 pounds, 10 ounces. He won the first-place prize money of $100,000 - plus a Ranger Boats bonus of $25,000.
Rikard was second after the first day, moved into the lead the next day and held on to win the $20,000 first prize with a 3-day total of 14 bass that weighed 26 pounds, 3 ounces.
Rikard said his win was due to divine intervention.
"This week I roomed with Mark Shepard, and when I drew him as a partner the first day, I knew something good was going to happen," he said.
Rikard's biggest weight came on the second day when he fished with pro Tommy Biffle and caught a 5-pound bass that anchored a 10-pound, 6-ounce limit.
"The other co-anglers told me Biffle was like a vacuum cleaner, and they hoped he'd leave me some good water to fish," Rikard said. "We ran all the way up to Russell Dam and started flipping the timber in the river."
By 3 p.m., with little time left, Rikard had three good fish in the livewell.
"I noticed Tommy missed a couple of trees, so I threw over by one and caught that fish in the 5-pound range. That was the kicker that did it for me."
Fishing with pro Scott Suggs on the third day, Rikard caught five bass that weighed 8-2, wrapping up the win with a 3-pound fish late in the day.
During the week, Rikard's key lures included a Yo-Zuri Rattlin' Vibe in silver and black and a Zoom Dead Ringer in green pumpkin.
Fritts finished 15 pounds ahead of pre-tournament projections for the winning weight as practice reports indicated unpredictable patterns, with low water and delayed morning launches from Wildewood Park playing a role in pros' troubles.
With most of the shoreline cover out of the water, fishing options included offshore structure, schooling bass and hydrilla beds, which seemed to offer some of the few places where bass could hide.
Fritts seemed pre-ordained to win the tournament. He fell into his prime fishing spot and pattern completely by accident.
He had lost the plug to his boat at the Lake Champlain tournament, so on the first day of practice he drove to a dealer in Elberton, Ga., to get a new plug.
"On the way back, I decided to just launch right there at the Lake Russell Dam at the top of Clarks Hill," said Fritts, who started fishing in the upper end, found an isolated tree right off the bat and immediately caught a big bass.
"The light bulb went off right then," he said. "The fish were suspended on isolated pieces of standing timber."
Fritts found enough isolated trees to dominate the competition. Fishing Rapala DT-10, DT-14, DT-16 and DT-20 crankbaits and a Clackin' Rap lipless bait, he brought in a 23-pound, 9-ounce limit the first day, added a 13-9 limit the second day, a 16-pound limit the third day and a 6¾-pound limit the final day to win by more than 10 pounds.
"Some of the trees I fished this week were actually sticking out of the water," Fritts said, "but a majority of them were submerged, and I found them either with my electronics or by looking down into the water."
"My best spot was the top of a tree that was actually too deep to hit with the DT-20, so I used that Clackin' Rap as a drop bait – casting it out there, letting it fall some 30 feet to the bottom and hopping it up off the bottom on that one tree."
An intense storm almost swamped the entire tournament on the third day as fishermen were heading back down the lake to the weigh-in.
Just as weigh-in got underway, a horrific wind pushing gusts to 40 mph came out of nowhere and lashed fishermen, fans and tournament staffers alike. In a matter of 30 minutes, Clarks Hill went from a moderate chop to some of the heaviest seas some pros have ever experienced.
"That's the biggest water I've ever seen in my career," Fritts said. "The waves were easily seven to eight feet. My boat was standing up vertical in those waves, and I was seriously worried that I was not going to make it back in time with my catch. I left an extra 25 minutes to get back and only had three minutes to spare when I returned. I had to stop twice to completely bilge out my boat."
A handful of fishermen from South Carolina took home nice checks from Clarks Hill.
Pro Casey Ashley of Donalds finished seventh with a 4-day total of 37 pounds, 13 ounces and won $14,106. Jason Williamson of Aiken weighed in only four fish the first day, and that cost him a place in top 10. He finished with a 3-day total of 29-15, just 1-3 out of the top 10, and earned $9,796.
William McKie III of Aiken finished 23rd with 27-1 and won $9,013. Trad Whaley of Abbeville was in seventh place after the second day with 23-4 but zeroed on the third day and finished 48th with a check for $7,836.
Jason Quinn of York and Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity were the only other South Carolina anglers to finish in the money, both winning $1,959. Quinn was 51st with 15 bass that weighed 22-5, and Gagliardi was one spot behind Quinn with 13 bass that weighed 22-4.
On the Co-Angler side, Michael Maxfield of Hanahan finished ninth with 16-12 to win $2,520. Also earning checks were Wayne Frierson of Manning, who finished 25th with 10 fish that weighed 12-14 for $1,094; Matt Lowe of Walhalla, who finished 31st with seven fish that weighed 11-15 for $924; and Robert Nowlin of Columbia, who finished 32nd with eight bass that weighed 11-15 for $924.
Jones 'Super' at Wylie
Parks Jones, Jr. of York won the Wal-Mart BFL South Carolina Division "Super Tournament" on Lake Wylie in late October with a 2-day catch of nine bass that weighed 27 pounds, 7 ounces.
Jones fished mid-lake humps with plastic worms and crank baits to target the bass that earned $4,518 for first place.
Rounding out the top five boaters were: 2. Jason Quinn of York, 10 bass, 25-15, $2,658; 3. Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, 8, 22-8, $1,774; 4. Matt Arey (Shelby, N.C.), 10, 22-7, $1,240; and (tie) Scott Hamrick (Denver, N.C.), 10, 20-12, $1,063.
John Weise of Charlotte, N.C., took home the big bass award, earning $667 for a 5-1 lunker he caught on a white Zara spook fishing docks and rocks.
Greg Clayton of York won $2,658 as the top co-angler with six bass that weighed 12-4. He caught his fish on a topwater worm, targeting points and rocks in the mid-lake area.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers were: 2. John Cook of Matthews, N.C., 3, 11-1, $1,329; 3. Bryan New of Belmont, N.C., 5, 10-10, $886; 4. Scott Peavey of Ridgeway, 4, 10-9, $620; and 5. Kenneth Morrison of Waxhaw, N.C., 4, 9-11, $532.
John Cook of Matthews, N.C., won $334 for the co-angler big bass with a 5-10 largemouth he caught on a jig.
Brown second at Albemarle Sound
Ron Brown of Mount Pleasant finished second by 1 pound, 2 ounces, in the Wal Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Regional Championship on Albemarle Sound in Elizabeth City, N.C., in mid-Oct.
Wesley Harris of Rustburg, Va., won a fully-rigged Ranger boat and a Chevrolet pickup truck, taking first place with a 3-day total of 14 bass that weighed 30 pounds, 2 ounces.
The top 40 boaters and the top 40 co-anglers from the Empire, Northeast, Shenandoah and South Carolina divisions competed in the tournament. The top six boaters and the top six co-anglers earned a spot in the 2009 Wal-Mart BFL All-American.
Brown was the only South Carolina fishermen to qualify for the All-American, finishing with 15 bass that weighed 29 pounds, winning $4,000.
Tommy Milligan of Seneca finished third in the co-angler division to earn a spot in the All-American. He had a 2-day total of nine bass that weighed 16-12, worth $1,000.
Sanders, Elliott win FunFest on Lake Murray
Kevin Sanders and Neil Elliott of Clinton weighed in five bass at 21.27 pounds to win the Lexington County Law Enforcement Officers Association's (LCLEOA) First Annual FunFest Bass Tournament on Lake Murray on Sept. 17.
Sanders and Elliot won $1,000, plus another $75 for the second big fish at 5.59 pounds.
Charlie Coats and Kyle Penland of Columbia had five bass that weighed 20.83 pounds to take second and $500. They added another $175 or the first big fish at 6.3 pounds. Howard Stephens of Columbia and Mark McCormick of Gilbert weighed in five bass at 18.72 pounds for third place and $300.
Davis, Eaton win Sam Odom Memorial on Murray
Joey Davis of Garner, N.C. and Eric Eaton of Columbia weighed in 11.69 pounds, including the big bass at 4.69 pounds, to take first place in the first annual Sam Odom Memorial Lake Murray Legacy Series Open Bass Tournament held this past Oct. 4.
Davis and Eaton won $1,000 for first place, plus a $500 bonus from Triton boats.
The tournament, held in honor of the late son of Al Odom, founder of the Fishers of Men tournament series, fielded 33 teams of adults and youth fishermen.
Wade Grooms of Bonneau and Austin Pearce of Charleston had five bass that weighed 10.08 pounds for second place. Sean Anderson and Austin Padgett of Saluda finished third with 9.77 pounds.
Taylor, Bennett win Shope Championship
Brock Taylor and Jeff Bennett of Pendleton weighed in 23.25 pounds to take first place in the 18th annual Phil Shope Championship on Lake Murray in early October. They also had big fish at 3.63 pounds.
Robby Gwinn of Easley and Kevin Fulmer of Lake Murray had 22.47 pounds for second place, and Brad Brooks and Mack Burdett, both of Easley, were third with 18.30 pounds.
John Cordell and Scott Bradley of Asheville had second big fish at 3.43 pounds.
Burgess, Franklin win on Greenwood
Eddie Burgess and Steve Franklin of Greenwood won the Five Lakes Fishing Club tournament on Lake Greenwood Oct. 4 with 19.29 pounds of bass. They also had the big fish at 4.90 pounds.
Tyler Croxton of Laurens and Cason Mabry of Clinton finished second with 16.19 pounds. Chris Nelson of Warrenville and Stanley Nelson of Elberton, Ga., were third with 13.61 pounds.
Brandon Cobb of Greenwood and Derrick Adams of Calhoun Falls were fourth with 11.18 pounds. Rounding out the top five were Tony Penland of Elberton, Ga., and Randy Link of Hartwell, Ga., with 11 pounds even.
Jeff O'Dell of Greenwood and Steve Arsenault of Ware Shoals had the second big fish at 4.47 pounds.
Thomas wins Lady Angler tournament
Rianne Thomas of Lexington, fishing with Billy Durant of Chapin, won the Midlands Striper Club's annual Lady Angler Tournament on Lake Murray in September with two stripers that weighed 10 pounds, 9 ounces.
Meg Sponseller of Columbia, no stranger to the MSC Lady Angler winner's circle, placed second with two fish that weighed 7 pounds, 14 ounces while fishing with Dan Derrick of Columbia.
Close behind in third place was Wilma Stamm of Prosperity, who fished with Tom Gitto of Chapin. Stamm's 7-pound, 1 ounce striper was also was the biggest fish.
Lindler's 14-pound bag good enough to win Midlands Striper Club tourney
James Lindler of West Columbia weighed in 14 pounds to win a very tough and windy Midlands Striper Club tournament out of Acapulco Landing on Lake Murray in October. Lindler also weighed in the largest striper at 5 pounds, 8 ounces. to win the big fish award.
Justin Christopher of Rock Hill finished second with three stripers that weighed 9 pounds, 10 ounces. Kreg Frady of Leesville placed third with two stripers that weighed 7 pounds, 14 ounces.
National Bass Circuit UpState Sport Series Lake Hartwell, Oct. 5, 2008
1. Glen Kimbrall-Todd Pearson (Anderson), 5 bass, 12.36 pounds, including big fish, 4.32 pounds, $300; 2. Scott Jeter-Mark Smith (Anderson), 5, 10.96, including second big fish, 3.89 pounds, $100; 3. Casey Reeves-Ryan Bowman (Easley), 5, 10.95 pounds.
National Bass Circuit Catawba Winter Series Lake Norman, Oct. 10, 2008
1. Andy Montgomery (Blacksburg)-Louie Hull (Casar, N.C.), 5 bass, 11.8 pounds, including big fish, 3.58 pounds, $650; 2. Patrick Tierney (Denver, N.C.)-Shorty Vaow (Cornelius, N.C.), 5, 9.46, $325; 3. Roger Hoover (Mooresville, N.C.)-Scott Hamrick (Denver, N.C.), 5, 9.26, including second big fish, 3.36 pounds, $175.
National Bass Circuit, Catawba Series, Lake Wylie, Oct. 11, 2008
1. Chuck Montgomery (Blacksburg)-Louie Hull (Casar, N.C.), 5, 14.35 pounds, $1,225; 2. Matt Haywood (Lincolnton, N.C.)-Donnie Cooper (Belmont, N.C.), 5, 13.61, $825; 3. Scott Beattie (Lincolnton, N.C.)-Steve Addington (Dallas, N.C.), 5, 13-0, $525; 4. Jeff Blanton (Shelby, N.C.)-Christian Johnson (Iron Station, N.C.), 5, 12.21, $350; 5. Scott Sellers (Anderson)-Eric Grigg (Shelby, N.C.), 5, 12.08, $300.
American Bass Anglers D-96 Lake Greenwood, Oct. 19, 2008
1. Andy Lake (Saluda), 5, 13.59 pounds, $826; 2. Teddy Bryant (Cross Hill), 4, 11.25 pounds, including big fish, 6.06 pounds, $559; 3. Rodney Cromer (Pomaria), 5, 10.88, $117; 4. Sean Anderson (Saluda), 5, 9.56, $91; 5. Cason Mabry (Clinton), 3, 7.04 pounds.Carolina Angler's Team Trail Lake Wateree, Sept. 27, 2008
1. Gene Pyfrom (Elgin), 5 bass, 10 pounds, 11 ounces, $500; 2. Craig Haven-Tim Havaen (Lugoff), 5, 10-4, $300; 3. Steve Phillips (Lugoff), 5, 10-1, including second big fish, 3-13, $263; 4. William Richardson-Mark Richardson (Irmo), 10-1, $100. Big Fish: Jason Gilfillian-Derek Byars (Blacksburg), 4-13, $147.Carolina Angler's Team Trail Lake Wateree, Oct. 11, 2008
1. Timmy Thompkins-Carlton Thompkins (Myrtle Beach), 5 bass, 13. pounds, 2 ounces, $700; 2. Randall Driggers (Turbeville)-Josh McGregor (Lynchburg), 5, 13-1, $300; 3. Jay Keith (Lugoff), 5, 11-9, $150; 4. Tim Haven-Craig Haven (Lugoff), 5, 9-2, including big fish, 4-7, $240; Second Big Fish: Robert Ross (Dalzell)-Rick McLean (Sumter), 4-2, $60.Carolina Angler's Team Trail Lake Murray, Oct. 11, 2008
1. Beau Dixon (Leesville)-Rhett Manus (Gilbert), 5 bass, 17 pounds, 12 ounces, including big fish, 4 pounds, 12 ounces, $626; 2. Darryl Starkey (Little Mountain)-Chris Daves (Columbia), 5, 14-13, including second big fish, 4-12, $444; 3. Howard Stephens (Columbia)- Mark McCormick (Chapin), 5, 14-11, $125.
Tournament directors: Send your schedules and your tournament results in the format shown as soon as possible after your tournaments. Be sure to include names, hometowns, number of fish caught, total weight, prize money and big fish information. Email to Pat Robertson: email@example.com.