Coming in to this event Castrol pro David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., had career winnings of $2.9 million dollars – the most of any professional angler on the FLW Tour. Dudley widened that gap today by winning the Walmart FLW Tour Major on Beaver Lake presented by Straight Talk. The $125,000 victory has pushed him over the $3 million mark. Dudley weighed in a five-bass limit worth 16 pounds, 9 ounces to win the tournament, besting the best bass-fishing pros from all across the United States, Canada, Spain and Japan.
Dudley weighed in 20 bass totaling 54 pounds, 7 ounces during four days of competition fishing. He edged out a man who had previously won this event in 2007, Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., who weighed in five bass today totaling 17 pounds, 8 ounces. Morgan’s four-day total of 53-15 was good enough for second place – and a $35,000 check.
“Winning a tournament like this really drives me,” said Dudley, who now has 32 top-10 finishes and six victories in FLW competition. “Me and Glenn (Browne) are good friends, but when he said on stage yesterday that there were only three anglers in contention to win and he didn’t mention my name, well, it really fueled my fire. So thank you, Glenn Browne. What I did today was like hitting two grand slams in the last inning of a baseball game. I just kept plucking away at it. It’s a passion for me.
“You really just have to go out there and catch as much as you can,” Dudley continued. “You can’t worry about what the other guy is doing. Fishing is so much of a mental game; you have to be mentally tough. It’s not about the skill, it’s about the decisions. It’s not like I’m a better angler than anybody out there. It’s the decisions that we make that separate us.”
Dudley used his decision-making skills today to leap from fourth place after Saturday’s weigh-in into the top spot. He caught most of his fish this week on an umbrella rig, but changed his strategy this afternoon after having a slow morning.
“I was catching them all week on the umbrella rig, but around 1 p.m. I realized that if I wanted to win I was going to need to switch it up,” he said. “I went to a steep bank that I had caught a couple off of this week using a wacky worm, and the wind was blowing pretty good against it. I made the decision to switch back to the wacky worm and I just worked my way down that bank. I caught four or five keepers and culled a couple of times, and it just seemed to turn on for me. Everywhere I stopped I caught a big one. I ended up only weighing in one on the umbrella rig today.”
Despite the umbrella rig being a key part of Dudley’s success throughout the week, he knows that it was not the only factor in his victory.
“That rig is something that we are all still learning about,” said Dudley. “It’s gotten a bad name because some people say that it mistreats the fish, but it doesn’t do any of that. It’s a lure that is going to catch some fish, but it does not dominate. Of my 20 bass that I weighed in, only 13 of them came on the umbrella rig. Seven of my fish came on different lures. The umbrella rig is a tool, not a cure-all tool. I believe the key decision to my tournament was not going after the spotted bass. I had a legit 10 to 12 schools located, and it was very tempting. I knew I couldn’t rely on them, though, because they would not have had the weight that helped me get to this spot today.”
Moments after his emotional victory, Dudley was already looking ahead to the next FLW Tour event on the Potomac River.
“I’m really looking forward to the Potomac, that’s for sure. I really love tidal rivers and I love the current. The Potomac is a very healthy fishery right now, so all of you Fantasy Fishing players out there better pick some good power fishermen.
The remaining top 10 pros finished the tournament in:
3rd: Chevy pro Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., 20 bass, 53-9, $30,000
4th: Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury, Springville, Ala., 20 bass, 52-13, $25,000
5rd: Dr. Pepper TEN pro Glenn Browne, Ocala, Fla., 20 bass, 51-14, $20,000
6th: Chevy pro Jay Yelas, Corvallis, Ore., 20 bass, 50-5, $17,000
7th: Charlie Evans, Gilbertsville, Ky., 20 bass, 46-10, $16,000
8th: Snapple pro Jacob Powroznik, Prince George, Va., 20 bass, 45-14, $15,000
9th: Kelley Jaye, Dadeville, Ala., 19 bass, 40-2, $14,000
10th: Brad Rightnour, Mingoville, Pa., 17 bass, 38-12, $13,000
A complete list of results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.
Overall there were 46 bass weighing 115 pounds even caught by pros Sunday. The catch included eight five-bass limits.
Chad Pipkens of Holt, Mich., won the co-angler division and $25,000 Saturday with a three-day total of nine bass weighing 22-15 followed by Todd Lee of Jasper, Ala., in second place with 10 bass weighing 18-14 worth $7,500.
In FLW Tour Major tournaments, pros and co-anglers are competing for valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing. The top 35 pro and co-anglers in the point standings from the six FLW Tour Major tournaments will qualify.
The Tour stop on Beaver Lake presented by Straight Talk was hosted by the Rogers Convention & Visitors Bureau, and was the fourth of 10 Walmart FLW Tour tournaments of the 2012 season. The Walmart FLW Tour on the Potomac River presented by the National Guard will be the next tournament and will be held May 17-20 in National Harbor, Md. The event will be hosted by the National Harbor and boats will launch from the National Harbor Marina in National Harbor. For a complete schedule, visit FLWOutdoors.com.
Coverage of the Beaver Lake tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs June 3 from 1 – 2 p.m. ET. “FLW” is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 559 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.
photo: FLW Outdoors