Nixon Wins FLW National Guard Open on Lake Norman

Larry Nixon bagged a two-day total of 27 pounds to win the FLW National Guard Open on Lake Norman.

Veteran fisherman Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., bagged a 5-fish limit yesterday that weighed 14 pounds, 7 ounces, to win the FLW National Guard Open at Lake Norman by more than three pounds.

Nixon, from Bee Branch, Ark., finished with a two-day total of 27 pounds to hold off Jay Yelas of Jasper, Tex., and take the $150,000 first-prize money.

Nixon had barely qualified for the 10-man, 2-day finals after two qualifying days finishing 10th. But with the top 10 fishermen starting at zero on Saturday, he took the third-round lead and actually expanded it on the final day to win.

Yelas brought in the heaviest weight of the tournament on the final day — 16 pounds, 6 ounces — to vault from ninth place to second, finishing with 23-7 and winning $75,000. Vic Vatalaro of Kent, Ohio, took third and $50,000 with 23 pounds. Hank Cherry of Maiden, N.C., was fourth with 22-7 with a closing limit of 15-11 for $40,000. Scott Suggs of Bryant, Ark., rounded out the top five at 20-4, winning $30,000.

Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., finished 10th with 9-8, winning $25,000. It was his third top-10 finish in four FLW tournaments in this, his rookie season.

Nixon fished the upper end of 32,500-acre Lake Norman, targeting stumps, laydowns and brushpiles in four feet of water or less. He caught almost all of his fish on a Berkley Wacky Crawler, a 5-inch, straight-tail bait in green pumpkin.

“I fished that whole area; I had some banks I fished more than others. Some had some docks, some of them didn’t,” Nixon said. “Most of my banks didn’t have any docks, and I think that helped me because a lot of other guys ignored them.

“I was looking for fish that weren’t relating to docks,” he said. “If I could see a dark spot off the bank at least 20 feet, there would be a fish on it.”

About Dan Kibler 887 Articles
Dan Kibler is the former managing editor of Carolina Sportsman Magazine. If every fish were a redfish and every big-game animal a wild turkey, he wouldn’t ever complain. His writing and photography skills have earned him numerous awards throughout his career.

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