By BassFan Staff
At the start of the FLW Tour season, there were 165 anglers registered as pros. Through the first two tournaments, the scoreboard looks like this: Mark Rose 2, Bryan Thrift 0.
Two weeks after catching the winning fish on his final cast of the final day at Lake Guntersville to fend off a day-4 charge from Thrift, Rose rode a couple late-day upgrades today at Lake Travis to rally past Thrift to become the first angler in the FLW Tour’s 22-year history to win consecutive events.
Thrift held a 1-pound lead entering day 4, but Rose sacked 14-09 to finish with 59-02, enough to thwart Thrift’s bid to win his fifth career Tour title. Thrift’s 12-13 stringer was his best of the last 3 days, but his 58-06 total fell 13 ounces shy of what he needed to prevail.
Rose, who has collected $250,000 over the past three weeks, becomes the fourth angler to win at least five FLW Tour events, joining Scott Martin (six), Brent Ehrler (five) and David Fritts (five). He’s also the ninth angler to record multiple Tour victories in the same season. This also is Rose's first FLW victory away from the Tennessee River.
“I am absolutely blown away just to be in that position with who I think is the best fisherman in the world,” Rose said on stage immediately afterward. “I’ve done this for 17 years and Bryan’s been doing this a long time and he is the best fisherman on this planet. To come out ahead of him like this, I’m blown away. I’m speechless. I’m thankful. God is good is all I can say.”
Tour rookie Dylan Hays gained one spot today with a 13-00 stringer that gave him 54-00, which was good for 3rd.
Clark Reehm punctuated an incredible rally this week (he was 108th after day 1) with a solid 15-13 to finish 4th with 53-03, while Clark Wendlandt retreated two spots to 5th with an 11-00 stringer that gave him 52-12 overall.
Here's a look at how the rest of the top 10 finished up:
6. Anthony Gagliardi: 51-12
7. Clayton Batts: 48-01
8. Troy Morrow: 47-09
9. Jeremy Lawyer: 40-14
10. Stephen Patek: 39-00
Anthony Gagliardi posted a Sunday-best 16-09 to move up 4 places to 6th with 51-12. Day-2 leader Stephen Patek, who lost fiv5e pounds on Saturday due to a 5-minute late penalty, zeroed today and slipped to 10th.
Cloudy conditions and occasional rain arrived for the final day, but they came on the heels of a warm night so the fish weren’t impacted all that much. Even though water temperatures were in the 60s, a good many of the fish caught today were out of deeper water as the shallow bite never got fired up to the degree some were expecting.
The Tour takes 2 weeks off before the season resumes at the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida March 9-12.
Rose caught some of his best fish this week off a big boat ramp near the dam.
Rose Still in Shock
> Day 4: 5, 14-09 (20, 59-02)
Even a few hours after his victory, Rose was still flabbergasted by his accomplishment. He joked that if he makes another top-10 cut this year, he’d rather Thrift not make it as well.
“I know how hard it is to do what I’ve done,” Rose said. “I’ve been at this 17 years and I try to keep everything in perspective. I ride the highs and not let the lows get me down too much and I try to enjoy everything in between. Winning two overwhelms me and I know it’s a blessing from God. I’m just very thankful.”
When he and Thrift were waiting to go on stage, he didn’t feel like he’d caught enough to prevail and when footage of Thrift catching a kicker was shown on the big screen next to the stage, he had convinced himself he’d finished 2nd.
“I really felt like in my gut I had 13 1/2 pounds,” he said. “I don’t weigh my fish and I try to stay conservative. I felt like, at most, I had 13 3/4. When I saw Bryan caught that fish, it looked like a 6-plus and I just thought it was his turn, and I was fine with that. After edging him out (at Guntersville), I was really okay and even wanting to see him and his family enjoy what I enjoyed two weeks ago. He had a little less than what I thought he did.
“I was really shocked. I have so much respect for Thrift’s fishing talent. He’s beaten me so many times over the years. I know how good he is and to come out on top like that just overwhelms me.”
The terminal end of a boat ramp close to the dam where he’d caught his big fish on days 2 and 3 produced two more quality bites today. He said the trees at the end of the ramp and off to the side were critical as the fish would suspend in and around them. He picked them off with a 6-inch paddletail swimbait on a 1-ounce Strike King Squadron swimbait head and also with a football jig.
“That’s where I caught that 6-pounder on day 3,” he said. “Those three fish were huge for me.”
Late in the morning, his deeper patterns weren’t as productive and he resorted to flipping and skipping docks, and he was able to finish his limit and pick up a couple small, but critical, upgrades doing that.
Additional details about Rose’s and the other top finishers’ patterns will be published later this week.
Bryan Thrift needed one more fish like this to take down Rose.
2nd: Thrift Needed Another Big Bite
> Day 4: 5, 12-13 (20, 58-06)
Thrift had no regrets about how he fished or any of the decisions he made this week. He knows how Rose feels, having won four Tour events himself, including one at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in 2015 when he beat Rose by 3 pounds. Still, it’s hard for a second straight runner-up finish behind the same person not to sting a little.
“This one hurts a little bit,” Thrift said. “I lost a great big one yesterday that would’ve won it for me, but that’s fishing. I’m sure Mark lost a couple, too, this week. It is what it is. Mark has done well. I feel good about it. I didn’t do anything wrong. I’ve had two great tournaments after tough practices and came away with decent finishes.”
He had a limit by 8:30 this morning and then went upgrade-hunting, focusing mostly shallow.
“The rest of the day was a grind,” he said. “I spent time running around and looking and hoping to come across a big one up shallow.”
He finally did shortly after 2 p.m. when he stuck 5 1/2-pounder out of a dock slip.
“It was just a place I wound up at,” he said. “I hadn’t fished many docks until yesterday. I ran around like crazy for next 90 minutes trying to catch another big one but never could.”
3rd: No Regrets For Hays
> Day 4: 5, 13-00 (20, 54-00)
Hays couldn’t be happier to come away with a top-3 result in just his second Tour event from the front of the boat. He had a superb practice and was able to capitalize on the area he’d found way up the Colorado River.
“I’m beyond pumped up about it,” the Arkansas native said. “To finish so high in my second event, I never thought it would happen this fast. There are guys who’ve fished for years and never made a top 10.”
He couldn’t pinpoint one thing he’d have done differently that would’ve swung the outcome in his favor, but he was quick to point out that due to the distance he had to drive to reach his best spot, he sacrificed 8 hours of fishing during the tournament.
After flipping flooded bushes and trees on days 1 and 2, Hays transitioned to dragging a Texas-rigged lizard through some trees on a main-river point this weekend. He had a limit in 40 minutes this morning and stuck around until 9:30, catching two upgrades in the process.
He switched to a topwater for a couple hours in hopes to entice a kicker before going back to his flipping area.
“I caught one and culled and then caught another and culled again,” he said. “I flipped until 1:30, then went back to my primary spot and culled once more on the lizard.”
Dylan Hays was ecstatic with a 3rd-place finish in just his second FLW Tour event.
4th: Morning Was Pivotal for Reehm
> Day 4: 5, 15-13 (20, 53-03)
Reehm battled back from a four-fish, 6-13 showing on day 1 to record his best FLW Tour finish since joining the circuit in 2014.
“It feels good, but I’m worn out,” he said. “It’s one of those things where you always have lot of hindsight in every tournament. On day 1 I bombed so bad and it took me a while to dial them in. I’ve been out here long enough and I know how to pre-fish effectively. I’ve learned enough to know that you have to figure them out in the tournament.
“The reality is it took me until today to dial them in. If I were to go out tomorrow, I could catch a real quality bag. I was dialing in the feed bite where I was.”
He was keyed in on a main-lake flat where baitfish would congregate in the morning. The bass would move up on the flat to feed, but the majority of activity took place prior to 9 a.m., which gave Reehm a small window of time to capitalize.
He had his limit shortly after 9 and then began to visit bedding fish he had pegged. He caught a 3-pound male and made a big upgrade late in the day when he stopped in a marina on the way in.
“The fish here like certain types of docks on that lake, but I didn’t catch one all week on them until today,” he said. “I brought my swimbait down the edge of a dock and this big one smoked it with 5 or 6 feet of line out. It wound up being almost 5 pounds.”
5th: Big Ones Scarce For Wendlandt
> Day 4: 5, 11-00 (20, 52-12)
Wendlandt was bummed that he slipped 2 spots today, but that was a product of the big fish that had helped anchor his bags on days 2 and 3 not showing up for a third straight day.
“I really fished well today, but I’m still disappointed,” he said. “I didn’t get a bigger bite and I know they’re hard to predict, but I fished as hard as I could.”
He opted to mostly flip bushes and brush today with a Strike King Rage Menace. He also mixed in a finesse worm and caught a couple keepers cranking. He tallied roughly a dozen keepers today.
“I started on the spot where I’d caught the big ones (earlier in the tournament) and I caught two keepers there, but they were just 15-inchers,” he said. “From there, I just winged it. After I caught a couple on a crankbait, I ended up in a pocket and got a bite and I just ran pockets from there. I think some of those fish were probably bedding based on where they were. I just couldn’t see them.”
Regarding Rose’s consecutive wins, Wendlandt, a three-time Angler of the Year and four-time FLW Tour winner, said, “That’s pretty good. I’m really happy for him. That’s a heck of an accomplishment and he’s a good guy. I like to see good guys do well.”
> Day 4 stats – 10 anglers, 8 limits, 1 two, 1 zero.
1. Mark Rose -- West Memphis, Ar -- 11-9 (5) -- 17-3 (5) -- 28-12 (10) -- 15-13 (5) -- 14-9 (5) -- 59-2 (20) -- $125,000
2. Bryan Thrift -- Shelby, NC -- 24-12 (5) -- 9-6 (5) -- 34-2 (10) -- 11-7 (5) -- 12-13 (5) -- 58-6 (20) -- $30,200
3. Dylan Hays -- Sheridan, Ar -- 14-15 (5) -- 13-7 (5) -- 28-6 (10) -- 12-10 (5) -- 13-00 (5) -- 54-00 (20) -- $25,100
4. Clark Reehm -- Huntington, Tx -- 6-13 (4) -- 21-11 (5) -- 28-8 (9) -- 8-14 (5) -- 15-13 (5) -- 53-3 (19) -- $20,000
5. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, Tx -- 12-7 (5) -- 17-3 (5) -- 29-10 (10) -- 12-2 (5) -- 11-00 (5) -- 52-12 (20) -- $19,500
6. Anthony Gagliardi -- Prosperity, SC -- 14-13 (5) -- 10-4 (5) -- 25-1 (10) -- 10-2 (5) -- 16-9 (5) -- 51-12 (20) -- $18,000
7. Clayton Batts -- Macon, Ga -- 14-4 (5) -- 9-2 (5) -- 23-6 (10) -- 12-15 (5) -- 11-12 (5) -- 48-1 (20) -- $17,000
8. Troy Morrow -- Eastanollee, Ga -- 14-10 (5) -- 11-9 (5) -- 26-3 (10) -- 10-14 (5) -- 10-8 (5) -- 47-9 (20) -- $16,000
9. Jeremy Lawyer -- Sarcoxie, Mo -- 12-4 (5) -- 19-7 (5) -- 31-11 (10) -- 5-9 (4) -- 3-10 (2) -- 40-14 (16) -- $15,000
10. Stephen Patek -- Garland, Tx -- 20-5 (5) -- 14-1 (5) -- 34-6 (10) -- 4-10 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 39-00 (15) -- $14,000