By Todd Ceisner
On Monday morning, Britt Myers was chatting with a friend about his stirring win at the Winyah Bay Elite Series over the weekend.
The conversation eventually turned to Myers’ bait selection on the final day and his friend couldn’t comprehend how Myers made a decision to change baits with time ticking down.
Basically, the gist of what was said was, “What in the world were you thinking, man?”
The question was a valid one. After all, Myers caught all of the fish he’d weighed in on days 1 through 3 on a half-ounce white ChatterBait with a 4-inch swimbait trailer. His first three keepers on Sunday also fell for that presentation, but sensing the tournament was slipping through his fingers, Myers switched to a pearl Zoom Super Fluke, rigged weightless.
It was a gutsy call, no doubt, but one Myers had put some thought into. It wasn’t a blind leap of faith. On Saturday night, he’d watched the weather forecast for Sunday that called for the calmest winds of the week. Being a South Carolina native, he knew slick conditions could bring other bait options into play.
“I hadn’t tied on a fluke all week,” he said. “I was lying in bed that night thinking about it. I saw the wind was supposed to be 5 to 10 mph. I knew 10 would be great for the ChatterBait, but if they were wrong and it was less than that the fluke could be great. It’s just a bait you throw in the Carolinas.”
And so when the reaction bites became scarce, he moved to an area he’d been saving and made a couple casts with the fluke. He promptly caught an 11 1/2-incher, not a keeper, but it gave him the clue he needed. He returned to his other spot and continued working the fluke over the stumpy, grassy flat he’d been fishing.
He finished his limit, then caught a 1 1/2-pounder at 1 o’clock that proved to be the upgrade he needed.
“That one cull won me the tournament,” he said. “Had I not made that adjustment and been stuck on three fish all day, I would’ve driven all the way home kicking myself for not trying something different.”
It gave him a pedestrian 9-05 stringer, but it was enough to overtake Brett Hite and Kelly Jordon, both of whom failed to catch a limit Sunday. He wound up averaging a little more than 14 pounds per day to claim his first Elite Series victory and it came at the most unexpected of times.
“It was incredible,” he said Monday morning. “I can’t even believe it worked out the way it did. It was completely 100 percent unexpected. I’ve had two 2nds and in one of those I led the whole event. It was a stressful time, but this was completely different.”
Here’s how it happened.
Myers had not competed on or even fun-fished the rivers that feed into Winyah Bay before he spent 3 days there prior to the venue going off-limits. He actually chuckled every time a co-worker at his CS Motorsports automotive customization shop would compete in South Carolina B.A.S.S. Federation events at the Cooper or Waccamaw rivers.
“I’d snicker at that and ask him why they keep going there,” Myers said, “but as a tournament angler, you like to go where you can expand your knowledge. So, I thought it was pretty funny when our schedule came out and this place was on it.”
Myers spent a day on the Waccamaw, a day on the Santee and a day on the Cooper during his scouting trip. The rivers were still severely flooded, so gaining any usable fishing knowledge became a secondary priority.
“I learned how to navigate it and found some shortcuts and hidden gas stations,” he said. “When I left, I almost felt like it was a waste of time. I was not sure what I learned other than those shortcuts and where the gas pumps were.”
In an effort to trim off more travel time, he tried running in the ocean toward Charleston Harbor to avoid no-wake zones on the IntraCoastal Waterway, but he scrapped that plan.
When he returned for official practice, his research had him thinking the Cooper River would be where the tournament would be won. He’d wanted to fish in the Santee River, but he ruled it out once he got into town.
“A good friend has shown me some places in the Waccamaw River and I figured if I struggled elsewhere it was a place I could go catch some fish,” he said. “I also had a friend of another friend explain the Santee to me and what water levels it fishes good at. Going into the tournament the Santee had been above flood stage for months and it had only dropped down to a decent fishable level within a week of us getting there.
“When I drove into town, I drove over the Santee and saw how dirty it was,” he added. “I decided right then I was all in on the Cooper. Anybody who knows the Cooper River knows it fishes really small. There are only a couple miles where most of the fish are. I moved around and fished all 3 days in that area.”
He sandwiched 2 good days around a mediocre day, but that off day was enough to put some doubt in his mind. Still, he was committed to making the long run because he was convinced the fish to win were there.
“It was a ginormous rice field several miles around the perimeter,” he said. “It had everything a fish needs – stumps to spawn on, deep ditches with hydrilla for when the tide got low. It’s a real cool place.
“I think I could’ve caught 20 pounds on day 1, but usually if I’m around 20 pounds everybody else is, too.”
> Day 1: 5, 16-08
> Day 2: 5, 21-07
> Day 3: 5, 8-15
> Day 4: 5, 9-05
> Total = 20, 56-03
Myers came into the tournament thinking an 18-pound daily average would take the win. He exceeded that pace through the first 2 days as he took the lead Friday with 37-15.
He managed 16-08 on day 1 that was shortened by more than an hour due to a weather delay. He also left early to run back because he was uncertain how the winds would affect his ability to run.
The winds persisted on day 2, but that’s when he had his best day, catching 21-07 to move into the lead at the halfway mark. Knowing the tide was critical to his success as the fish would move onto and off of certain pieces of cover as the water came up or down.
“I really won it then,” he said. “I had another spot near where I was fishing and I kept telling my camera guy that at 11:30, I had to be over there so I could make this one exact cast. At 11:30, I rolled over there and on back-to-back casts I caught 4-pounders. The tide just got right.”
About 300 yards away from that spot, he had a similar scenario and he was able to pluck another good fish. He wound up with a 6-08 and a 5-00 in his bag along with three other solid fish.
“That was the most magical day of my career,” he said. “I was dialed in. It was like I would catch fish at will. It was like being at home on Lake Wylie and knowing they’re going to bite.”
The weekend was a grind as far as big fish went for Myers, but he stayed in the Top 3 with an 8-15 bag on Saturday, which left him more than 3 pounds back of Hite going into Sunday.
His first fish Sunday was close to 4 pounds on the ChatterBait and had him thinking the big fish had replenished.
“I was all pumped up after that one,” he added. “I’m thinking I need three or four more of those to win.”
After that it was a struggle to trigger bites from anything larger than 1 1/2 pounds. He totaled seven bites Sunday, four on the ChatterBait and three on the Super Fluke.
“I wasn’t surprised,” he said. “I knew we’d worked on them pretty good for several days.
Things that didn’t go right made it work out right in the end.”
Winning Pattern Notes
> Depending on the tide cycle, the area Myers focused on was anywhere from 2 to 4 feet deep with some ditches holding 6 or 7 feet. “The fish location depended heavily on the tide,” he said. “Every tide was at the same position 1 hour later each day.”
> As many pre-spawn fish that were caught, there were plenty of post-spawn fish as well. Myers said he saw large fry everywhere he looked in the Cooper.
> Myers said he’d stop for gas on his way to the Cooper River in the morning rather than waiting until the afternoon to fuel up. He’d located some out-of-the-way gas pumps that he figured wouldn’t be crowded on the weekend when yacht and pleasure-boat traffic could create delays at the pump.
Winning Gear Notes
> Vibrating jig gear: 7’6” medium-heavy Pinnacle casting rod, Pinnacle Optimus LTE casting reel (7:1 ratio), 15-pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line, 1/2-oz. Z-Man original ChatterBait (white), 3.8” Keitech Swing Impact FAT swimbait (sexy shad).
> He rigged the Zoom Super Fluke (pearl) on a 4/0 EWG worm hook and threw it on 14-pound Berkley Trilene XT monofilament line. “When the water’s slick, you can twitch it and get the erratic action, but it’s still subtle,” he said.
The Bottom Line
> Main factor in his success – “Doing my homework on the fishery and knowing where to focus my time at and making that last-minute adjustment. I did it to salvage the tournament. I had no idea it would win me the tournament.”
> Performance edge – “My BassCat and Mercury is a fast combo. I had it up to 81.9 mph and was tucked down to try to get 82 out of it. There were times I passed boats, stopped for fuel and got back on the IntraCoastal Waterway and passed them again.”
Much of the tackle referenced above is available at the BassFan Store. To browse the selection, click here.