After three days of still waters at the Walmart FLW Tour on the Detroit River presented by the National Guard, wind greeted anglers at takeoff Sunday morning. The buzz at the ramp was how the winds would affect strategies for the top 10 anglers that had outfished the best bass anglers in the world to survive the cut to the last day.
And it seems wind did play a factor, and anglers had to change plans and adapt. That’s where Chevy pro Larry Nixon’s 36 years of professional bass-fishing experience gave him the edge. The Bee Branch, Ark., angler caught a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 4 ounces Sunday to win $100,000 with a four-day catch of 20 bass weighing 84-11. The catch gave him the win by a 6-pound, 1-ounce margin over Bill McDonald of Greenwood, Ind., who caught a total of 20 bass weighing 78-10 and earned $31,574.
“I’m in total shock,” said Nixon, who earned his first FLW Tour win since 1997. “I’ve been fishing in competitions for 36 years. A lot of my body parts are worn out, I’ll tell you right now. I’m not a spring chicken anymore. That rough water today by the Chevy building coming down the Detroit River … I’m glad I left an hour and a half early, because it took every single bit of it to get through the ‘Miracle Mile.’ You know why they call it that? It’s a miracle if you get through it in a bass boat.”
Nixon said he targeted Lake St. Clair fish in an area that featured a hard, sandy bottom in 15 feet of water throughout the tournament and shared it with three other anglers.
“We found those fish on the first day of practice, and I really didn’t know how many (fish) were there,” Nixon said. “And after that I just kept struggling and struggling and looking for something else. I didn’t dream there was enough fish there to win the tournament. It’s unreal how many bass were there in a quarter-mile circle.”
Nixon said he caught most of his fish during the tournament on a drop-shot rig tipped with a Berkley Gulp! Goby or a Berkley Jerk Shad, but managed to boat a few on a variety of other baits including a Berkley Havoc Sick Fish. Nixon said his drop-shot technique was more of a “drop-dragging” technique, where he would cast into the wind and drag the bait slowly back over his targeted waypoint.
“I had to use a lot of baits,” Nixon said. “It didn’t work the same every day. I’d get there and couldn’t get a bite, so I’d grab another rod and start catching them.”
The top 10 pros finished the tournament in:
1st: Chevy pro Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, Ark., 20 bass, 84-11, $100,000
2nd: Bill McDonald, Greenwood, Ind., 20 bass, 78-10, $31,574
3rd: Chad Pipkens, Holt, Mich., 20 bass, 77-14, $27,040
4th: Spencer Shuffield, Bismarck, Ark., 20 bass, 77-12, $22,507
5th: Cheez-It pro Shinichi Fukae, Palestine, Texas, 20 bass, 76-2, $17,974
6th: Chris McCall, Brookeland, Texas, 20 bass, 75-13, $15,254
7th: Tim Wilson, Gas City, Ind., 20 bass, 75-10, $14,347
8th: Cory Johnston, Peterborough, Ontario, 20 bass, 72-14, $13,440
9th: Joe Balog, Harrison Township, Mich., 18 bass, 70-7, $12,534
10th: John Cox, Debary, Fla., 20 bass, 69-10, $11,627
A complete list of results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.
Dave Hasty of Toledo, Ohio, won the co-angler division and $20,000 Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 55 pounds, 2 ounces followed by Kenneth Taylor of Shelby Township, Mich., in second place with 14 bass weighing 54-7 worth $6,768.
In FLW Tour Open tournaments, pros and co-anglers are competing for valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing. The top five pro and co-anglers in the point standings from the four FLW Tour Open tournaments will qualify.
The Tour stop on the Detroit River presented by the National Guard was hosted by the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, and was the eighth of 10 Walmart FLW Tour tournaments of the 2011 season. The Walmart FLW Tour on Wheeler Lake presented by Ranger boatswill be the next tournament and will be held Sept. 20-23 in Decatur, Ala. The event will be hosted by the Decatur Convention & Visitors Bureau and boats will launch from Ingalls Harbor in Decatur. For a complete schedule, visit FLWOutdoors.com.
Coverage of the Detroit River tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs Sept. 30 from 1 to 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.
Image courtesy FLW Outdoors