Competing in his sixth event with FLW Brent Butler of Vonore, Tenn. caught a caught a 16-11 stringer on Saturday to win the Lake Chickamauga Southeastern FLW Series. Butler’s three-day total of 68-08 was enough to earn him the victory and a check for $45,800. His winning margin was 5 1/2 pounds over FLW Tour stalwart Bryan Thrift.
Butler caught 14 pounds on day 1 to sit in 40th place. He said he put together his limit fishing shallow bars and shell beds mid-lake, with a half-ounce chrome-colored Strike King Red Eye Shad crankbait.
On day 2, switched patterns completely, fishing seven new areas near major creek mouths, and produced a 37-05 haul – the fifth-largest limit in FLW Series history.
“All I was catching (Thursday) was buck bass, and with 14 (ounds) and change, I knew I needed to swing for the fences,” said Butler, who earned his first win in FLW competition. “I started looking for staging areas for both pre-spawn and post-spawn females. I went offshore, and honestly, I got my timing down and saw what the bait was doing – how it was hanging out off of ledges and things of that nature. I just kept paying attention to it and the wind direction and I would occasionally see them on the graph and knew they were in the area. They were following gizzard shad. I sat in 30 feet and caught them out of 15 feet of water.
“I think they were heading in to spawn, but the two big ones – two 10-plus pounders – were post-spawn,” continued Butler. “I caught them almost on back-to-back casts.”
Butler said he had seven bites Friday. He said he used a custom Super G Lures umbrella rig with 4.3-inch shad-colored Keitech swimbaits to catch three of the monster limit and a chartreuse and shad-colored Lucky Craft Flash Pointer 100 jerkbait for the other two.
On Saturday, Butler didn’t catch nearly as much weight as he did Friday, but was able to put together the right bites at the end of the day.
“I ran those areas again today, and I saw the bait down in the creek and river channels. I only saw one school of gizzard shad come up under my graph in 15 of water and I could see two (bass) following it, but I couldn’t get them to cooperate. That was the only school I saw out of all those areas.”
With only one small bass in the boat at 1 o'clock, Butler again made a change, running 32 miles to fish shallow ledges with stumps between the Highway 60 bridge and Mud Creek. He caught a couple more fish on the umbrella rig, one on the Red Eye Shad and three on the Lucky Craft jerkbait.
Here are the final totals for the top 10:
1. Brent Butler: 68-08
2. Bryan Thrift: 63-00
3. Derek Hicks: 61-00
4. Cody Nichols: 57-11
5. David Gaston: 53-13
6. Rusty White: 52-10
7. Dustin Evans: 49-08
8. Brandon Stanley: 48-12
9. Buddy Gross: 48-03
10. Steve Stanfill: 38-14