"We put a lot of time in and changed when we needed to with the fish, plus Lake Murray is our favorite lake, and Lake Wateree is our home lake, so it worked out pretty good this year," McGregor said.
Driggers and McGregor always practiced a day or two ahead of each tournament, figuring out what the fish were doing, then preparing accordingly, McGregor said.
"We would figure out where to start, what the fish were on and develop a pattern, and it has worked out so far," he said.
"Worked out," may be an understatement.
McGregor and Driggers started out the year in grand style, winning at Lake Murray on Feb. 8 with 22.31 pounds – more than seven pounds ahead of the second-place team.
They made it two in a row on March 8 at Lake Wateree with a limit that weighed 18.21 pounds and followed that April 4 with an 18.51-pound limit for a win on Lake Murray - finishing more than three pounds ahead of the runners-up.
McGregor and Driggers won their fourth-straight tournament at Lake Wateree on May 3 with a limit that weighed 17.90 pounds, including the big bass of the tournament at 4.9 pounds. They finished more than seven pounds ahead of their closest competition.
It became five in a row on June 6 at Lake Murray when they weighed a limit at 19.92 pounds to finish more than three pounds ahead of the second-place team. They capped the season on July 12 with their sixth win, weighing in a 5-fish, 15.35-pound limit on Lake Wateree, winning $520.
"We've had real good success on Lake Murray in the last five or six years and on Wateree and Santee Cooper as well," McGregor said. "We've been in the top two or three the last few years, and we've won seven or eight tournaments so far this year."
While they may not stick completely with one technique in a tournament, there is one they both consider their strong point, McGregor said.
"Jig fishing is our strongest point, no doubt about it."
Gagliardi second at Champlain
Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity was in the running for the FLW Tour angler-of-the-year award until a poor showing on Kentucky Lake in mid-June.
But in danger of losing a berth in the FLW Forest Wood Cup, Gagliardi displayed the kind of mental toughness at the year's final qualifying tournament, on New York's Lake Champlain in July, that has been a hallmark of his career.
Gagliardi caught nine bass for a total of 33 pounds, nine ounces, over the last two days of the tournament to finish second and earn a $50,000 check that pushed him over the $1 million mark for his 7-year career.
"Going into the season I would have thought Kentucky Lake would have been one of the tournaments where I would have had a chance to do well, and I went from being a contender for Angler of the Year to almost not making the championship," he said.
Ironically, he was just one fish away from a win and an even bigger paycheck at Lake Champlain. He lost two fish on the first day of the final round, including a 5-pounder that he saw, and he finished just two pounds, 11 ounces, behind winner Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla.
Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg finished 21st at Lake Champlain with 10 bass that weighed 32 pounds, 12 ounces, and won $11,500.
Both qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup. Gagliardi finished 16th in the standings with $200,000 in prize money, and Montgomery finished 21st, earning a total of $49,500.
Meanwhile, Dearal Rodgers of Camden wrapped up his first angler-of-the-year award in FLW's Co-Angler division. Although he finished 64th at Lake Champlain with 10 bass that weighed 20 pounds, five ounces, it was more than enough to hold Rodgers atop the standings.
The win was a validation for his strategy. Before the season, Rodgers spent a lot of time going over his previous finishes and figuring what it would take for him to do better. The goal of Angler of the Year and a shot at moving up to the pro side on the FLW Tour was always foremost in his mind.
One of the techniques that he worked on hard during the offseason was fishing a drop-shot rig, which is not used very much on the lakes that Rodgers fishes in South Carolina. He practiced constantly on a pond near his home.
Yarborough, Gainey get big payday
Cleve Yarborough and Chad Gainey, both of Hartsville, had quite a payday at the Carolina Anglers Team summer final on Lake Wateree on July 11.
They weighed in five bass at 16 pounds, four ounces to win a first-place check for $2,100. They added another $500 by finishing first in Bonus Dollars, and to sweeten the day even more, they qualified to collect another $2,600 under the Stratos 2x Double Your Money Program, bringing their total winnings to $5,200.
Josh McGregor of Timmonsville and Randall Driggers of Turbeville finished second with 15 pounds, eight ounces. They also won big-fish honors with a 4-pound, 15-ounce bass, and finished second in Bonus Dollars for a total of $1,428.
Andy Owens of Camden moved within a whisker away of $30,000 in total CATT prize money with a third-place check for $887. Fishing alone, Owens weighed in five fish at 15-4, including the second big fish at 4-15. Jay Keith of Camden and Donald Hinson of Lugoff finished fourth with 14-8 and won $500. Alan Fletcher and Danny Johnson, both of Hartsville, finished fifth with a limit that weighed 14-1 and won $300.
Jones second in Weekend Series
Well-known Lake Wylie guide Eric Weir of Belmont, N.C., weighed in a solid two pounds more than Parks Jones of York to take first place in the North Carolina Division Bassmaster Weekend Series tournament on the lake June 20.
Weir had a 5-fish limit that weighed 19.71 pounds and won $5,000, while Jones picked up $1,302 for his 17.61-pound limit. Tracy Schiff of McConnells finished fourth with five bass that weighed 14.58 and won $607.
Tom Russell of Fort Mill was the highest finishing Triton Gold participant, finishing 10th, which make him eligible for $250 in contingency money.
Gordon Smith of Lake Wylie finished second on the Co-Angler side with three bass that weighed 10.52 pounds, winning $579.
Southern Crappie Trail
Starting out with a new name, the Southern Crappie Tournament Trail will kick off a new season Oct. 10 at Stumpy Pond/Fishing Creek, launching out of the HWY 21 access ramp.
At its annual meeting on June 6 in Great Falls, the group voted to change its name from the Southern Crappie Association to the Southern Crappie Tournament Trail.
The 2009-2010 season will also include these tournaments: Oct. 31, Badin/Tillery (NC); Nov. 21, Jordan Lake (NC); Dec. 12, Lake Wateree; Jan. 9, Blewett Falls Lake (NC); Feb. 13, Clarks Hill Lake; March 6, High Rock Lake (NC); and April 2-3, the Southern Crappioe Classic on Lake Greenwood.
Melissa Hinson of Cassatt was elected president, and Marc Danque of Chapin was elected vice president.
Russell Riley of Blythewood and Alan Outlaw of Camden were named points champions for 2009, and David and Phenice Perrell of Germanton, N.C., won the MinnKota Trolling Motor for the heaviest fish caught all year, a 2.81-pound slab caught from Lake Jordan.
The Perrells also won the Wildcat Summer Crappie Tournament on High Rock in mid-July with 8.59 pounds, winning $160. Will Hinson of Cassatt finished fourth with 5.20 pounds.
Move to Thurmond pays off
Faced with dwindling weights and concern about Lake Murray's summer striper fishery, the Midlands Striper Club moved its scheduled tournament to Lake Thurmond, and the July 18 result was an outstanding weigh-in.
Team Catchall - Kreg Frady and 5-time angler of the year Lee Thomas, both from Leesville, brought in four stripers that weighed an awesome 71 pounds, 14 ounces.
Team Nobody - Billy Durant, James Cassell and Tom Gitto, all of Chapin, and Weston and Rianne Thomas, both of Lexington - finished second with a 4-fish limit that weighed 35-6 and included a 22-4 bruiser that was the tournament's big fish.
Finishing third with 21 pounds even was Team Landlocked, which included Richy Brensinger and Joey Smoak, both of Lexington.
MSC cancelled its July and August tournaments on Lake Murray out of concern that released striped bass may not survive being placed back into the lake's hot summertime waters.
National Bass Circuit Southern Division
Lake Wateree, July 12
1. Josh McGregor-Randall Driggers (Timmonsville), 5, 15.35 pounds, $520; 2. Steve Pizzino (Dalzell)-Dave Murdock (Florence), 5, 12.55 pounds, including 6-0 big fish, $40; 3. Ernie Jones (Dalzell)-Greg Roycse (Lexington, 3, 6.2.
National Bass Circuit, S.C. Upstate Division,
Lake Hartwell, June 22
1. Jeff Rohaley (Greer)-Barton Aiken (Greenville), 5, 16.27, $1,050; 2. Todd Pearson-Glenn Kimbrell (Anderson0, 5, 14.9, $680; 3. Rodney Chastain (Fountain Inn)-Robbie Hipps (Simpsonville), 5, 14.39, $501; 4. Casey Reeves-Ryan Bowman (Easley), 5, 14-0, $239. Big Fish: Tommy Riddle-Shane Riddle (Hendersonville, N.C.), 4.86, $190.
Carolina Anglers Team Trail
Lake Wateree, June 27
1. Jay Keith-Jeff Hatfield (Camden), 5 bass, 16-8, including 4-13 second big fish, $886; 2. Donald Wells-Paul Wells, 5, 16.08, including 5-11 big fish, $454; 3. Greg Simon (Heath Springs)-Chris Langley (Lancaster), 5, 14-11, $200; 4. Travis Kelly (Camden)-Mickey Hayes (Kershaw), 5, 12-11, $100.
American Bass Anglers,
Dist. 96, Lake Murray, July 26
1. Sean Anderson (Saluda), 5, 14.24, including 5.76 big fish, $935; 2. Phillip Anderson (Saluda), 5, 10.4, $494; 3. Curtis Temples (Saluda), 5, 9.56, $150; 4. Don Kneece (Saluda), 5, 8.86, $115; 5. Casey Hendrix (Newberry), 4, 8.56, $85.
American Bass Anglers, Dist. 9,
Lake Hartwell, July 11
Boaters: 1. Barton Aiken (Greenville), 5 bass, 15.78 pounds, $5,000; 2. Jeff Rohaley (Greer), 5, 14.01, $1,205; 3. Chad Hart (Royston, Ga.), 5, 13.92, $803; 4. Christopher Powell (Williamston), 5, 11.44, $562; 5. Richard Presnell (Leicester, N.C,), 4, 11.31, including 5.18 big fish, $742.
Co-Anglers: 1. Andy Wicker (Pomaria), 3, 7.66 pounds, $1,205; 2. Charlie Harbin (Anderson), 3, 7.46 pounds, $602; 3. Mark Shealy (Gaston), 3, 6.91, including 3.99 big fish, $532; 4. Alexander Dziengielewiski (Aiken), 3, 6.1, $281; 5. Matt Hardy (Danielsville, Ga.), 3, 5.48, $241.
Tournament directors: Send your schedules and your tournament results in the format shown as soon as possible after your tournaments. Results MUST include names, hometowns, number of fish caught, total weight, prize money and big fish information. Email to Pat Robertson: firstname.lastname@example.org.