FLW Tour pro Bryan Thrift caught an 18-04 stringer on Saturday to complete a wire-to-wire victory at the Lake Champlain Northern FLW Series. Thrift’s three-day total of 57-00 gave him an 8-ounce margin over 2nd-place angler Edward Levin and earned him $89,200.
“I can’t really say this win is any more special than the others – they’re all pretty great – but this event was awesome because it was the first time that I was truly in contention up north,” said Thrift, a 13-time FLW Cup qualifier and considered by many to be the best angler in the world. “I’ve had a couple of chances to win this year and it’s seemed to slip through my fingers, so it’s a really good feeling to get one back.”
Thrift estimated he caught around 60 keepers throughout the three-day event, mainly throwing 4- and 5-inch Damiki Stingers.
“I think I might have weighed in one on a topwater, but the rest came on the Stinger,” Thrift said. “My key colors were watermelon candy and green pumpkin, and I threw it Texas-rigged, wacky-rigged and Neko-rigged with a 1/8-ounce Damiki Neko sinker.
“I was kind of scared, because the first day I caught around 50 bass – 30 to 35 keepers – and I thought I may have caught too many and burned them up,” Thrift continued. “It was calm today, though, so I was able to hit some new stuff today and basically run everything that I had. If it was windy, there is no way I would have won.”
Thrift said that the key to winning the tournament came to him when he realized that he had to comb through the smaller fish.
“I realized pretty early on in the event that I could weed through a bunch of little ones and eventually I’d catch a big one,” Thrift said. “They were not at all grouped up by size. Normally if I caught a bunch of small fish, I’d leave the spot and look for the big-fish areas. This week, the big fish were mixed in with the small fish and you just had to keep combing through them to find the big ones.”
Here are the final totals for the top 10:
1. Bryan Thrift: 57-00
2. Edward Levin: 56-09
3. Scott Dobson: 53-07
4. Brandt Tumberg: 52-09
5: Kurt Mitchell: 52-05
6. Jason Bacon: 52-04
7. Wayne Vaughan: 51-02
8. Joseph Wood: 49-04
9. Casey Smith: 49-01
10. Ron Nelson: 48-08