Mark Tucker of Kirkwood, Mo., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the EverStart Series Central Division event on Lake of the Ozarks with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 62 pounds even. For his victory, Tucker earned $34,454.
“I came down here last week and found the pattern of throwing a jerkbait,” said Tucker. “It was working really well. And then it snowed about 15 inches and rained another 4 inches. That really changed a lot of stuff. I had to start fresh and scramble. The good thing was that I knew it would make it an even playing field for the competitors. I knew that the locals had been catching them good all winter, but the changing weather conditions played a key factor in helping me compete with them.
“I knew the fish would be sitting just outside of the spawning areas,” Tucker continued. “It’s a pre-spawn deal right now. Some days I caught them in 6 to 8 feet of water, and other days I had to move out to as deep as 17 feet of water. I had to be willing to adapt and move. I couldn’t go back and catch them how I caught them the day before. I had to go out and start fresh in the morning. Luckily every day I was able to get one fish to clue me in on what I should be doing.
“I have a good friend that drove out here from California and he brought a few of the baits with him that I was able to win with,” Tucker went on to say. “The two main baits were a Smithwick Rogue and a River2Sea Ripper jerkbait. I was throwing those on a 6-foot, 6-inch Carrot Stix medium-light rod. I was also throwing a Picasso School-E-Rig with Zoom Swimmin Flukes. The key was being next to deep water. I like fishing a jig, but I just couldn’t get bit on it this week. I had to change up a little bit. I stuck with this the whole day, and the big fish were biting.”
The top 10 pros on Lake of the Ozarks were:
1st: Mark Tucker, Kirkwood, Mo., 15 bass, 62-00, $34,454
2nd: Shawn Kowal, Linn Creek, Mo., 14 bass, 53-8, $12,920
3rd: Marcus Sykora, Osage Beach, Mo., 14 bass, 51-9, $8,614
4th: Dennis Berhorst, Holts Summit, Mo., 13 bass, 45-0, $7,752
5th: Tim Fleetwood, Forsyth, Mo., 15 bass, 43-8, $6,891
6th: Jim Young, House Springs, Mo., 11 bass, 38-12, $6,029
7th: Bob Richardson, Granite City, Ill., eight bass, 35-8, $5,168
8th: Chuck Austin, Saint Peters, Mo., 10 bass, 33-15, $4,307
9th: Mike Foree, Osage Beach, Mo., 10 bass, 33-4, $3,445
10th: Dave Donham, Highlandville, Mo., 10 bass, 32-11, $2,584
Complete results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.
Berhorst caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the pro division Friday – a 7-pound, 2-ounce bass – that earned him the day’s EverStart Series Big Bass award of $244.
Tim Beale of Hernando, Miss., won the co-angler division and a Ranger Z117 with an Evinrude or Mercury outboard motor with a three-day total of seven bass weighing 33 pounds, 6 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers on Lake of the Ozarks were:
1st: Tim Beale, Hernando, Miss., seven bass, 33-6, Ranger Z117 w/90 HP outboard
2nd: Reggie Crabdree, Park Hills, Mo., nine bass, 25-14, $4,487
3rd: Dave Hasty, Toledo, Ohio, six bass, 23-10, $3,589
4th: Justin Swast, Pevely, Mo., nine bass, 22-10, $3,141
5th: Joe McClary, Richmond Heights, Mo., five bass, 18-9, $2,692
6th: Hank Goen, Harrisburg, Mo., five bass, 16-10, $2,243
7th: Clint Long, Lees Summit, Mo., five bass, 15-4, $1,795
8th: Michael Stricklin, Vidalia, La., five bass, 15-2, $1,346
9th: Jim Eakin, Fort Leonard Wood, five bass, 14-9, $897
10th: Brian Somrek, Cunningham, Ky., four bass, 14-2, $718
Eakin caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the co-angler division Thursday – a 6-pound, 7-ounce bass – that earned him the day’s EverStart Series Big Bass award of $162.
The EverStart Series consists of five divisions – Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Strike King Angler of the Year title, which allows them to fish the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup.
The next EverStart Series Central Division tournament will be May 2-4 at Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala., and is hosted by the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Board.
Image courtesy FLW Outdoors