By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Dylan Hays is a firm believer in the widely held angler's adage that it was just his time to win.

The Arkansan with three seasons of FLW Tour experience on his ledger outdueled a bevy of Lake of the Ozarks aces to win the Central Division finale last week. He started the final day in 4th place, then caught a 14-06 stringer to outdistance runner-up James Watson by 7 ounces with a three-day total of 43-14.

"When it's your time, it's almost like you can't stop it from happening," he said. "This was a perfect example of that."

Consider:

> He caught a 5-pounder on his final cast of the day that replaced a 15-incher in his livewell. He made it back to the launch with 26 seconds to spare.

> He hadn't planned to visit the brush pile that surrendered that fish, but he didn't have time to go where he really wanted to and still get back in time for check-in. He'd tried that brush pile several times during the derby and never got a bite.

> His intention was to throw a football-head jig to the brush pile, but he broke it off on his approach and had to resort to a crankbait. The big fish engulfed it.

> Day-2 leader Watson managed only four keepers on the final day. Dale Andrews, who started the round in 2nd place, caught none.

"As soon as my co-angler netted that last fish he told me I'd won," said Hays, who's logged a runner-up showing and two 3rds in Tour competition. "I didn't think there was any way I was 3 pounds back and I had three guys in front of me and they'd all have to stumble for me to have a chance.

"I thought it'd keep me in the top 5, but I didn't think it'd let me win."

No Regrets this Time

Hays finished 4th in the Series event at Lake of the Ozarks in 2017 and felt like he was on the right fish to win, but had some execution issues.

"I came in this time with a pretty good idea of what I needed to do," he said. "(The program) is usually fishing a lot of brush and docks and mixing in some shallow topwater stuff as well. I just couldn't get the shallow stuff going at all this time."

After a pedestrian 11-12 haul on day 1, he boxed 17-12 (the second-biggest bag of the tournament) on day 2 to make the top-10 cut. His second-round sack included a 5 1/4-pounder from a dock.

"Every day I'd start out throwing a buzzbait that's going to be the deal there soon, but I couldn't make it work," he said. "The first day I probably threw it for 3 hours out of my 8 hours of fishing time."

Fortunately, the docks and brush were much more productive for him. He spent most of his time flipping a jig, but also a fair amount cranking.

He caught six keepers each on days 1 and 2 and nine on the final day. He didn't lose a single bite throughout the event.

"The biggest key was staying focused and positive because I wasn't getting many bites," he said. "That's kind of hard to do when you're only getting a bite every hour or two."

Winning Gear Notes

> Jig gear: 7'4" extra-heavy Falcon Expert Series Amistad rod, Lew's Tournament Pro casting reel (7.1:1 ratio), 20-pound Hi-Seas fluorocarbon line, 3/4-ounce Jewel Football Jig (PB&J), Zoom Super Speed Craw trailer (green-pumpkin).

> Cranking gear: 7'8" medium-action Falcon Expert Series Deep Cranker rod, Lew's BB1 Pro casting reel (5.1:1 ratio), 12-pound Hi-Seas fluorocarbon, Strike King 6XD (sexy blueback herring).

> He changed out the stock hooks on the crankbait in favor of No. 1 Mustad KVD Elite Triple Grip hooks.

> The 5 1/4-pounder on day 2 was enticed by a Zoom Brush Hog (green-pumpkin) attached to a 6/0 Mustad KVD Grip-Pin round-bend hook.

Much of the tackle referenced above is available at the BassFan Store. To browse the selection, click here..



Final Standings

1. Dylan Hays -- El Dorado, Ar -- 11-12 (5) -- 17-12 (5) -- 14-6 (5) -- 43-14 (15) -- $37,515

2. James Watson -- Lampe, Mo -- 16-13 (5) -- 16-4 (5) -- 10-6 (4) -- 43-7 (14) -- $13,978

3. Casey Scanlon -- Lake Ozark, Mo -- 13-11 (5) -- 17-9 (5) -- 11-5 (5) -- 42-9 (15) -- $10,745

4. Ben Verhoef -- Osage Beach, Mo -- 15-7 (5) -- 12-8 (3) -- 13-10 (5) -- 41-9 (13) -- $8,954

5. James Dill -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 12-4 (5) -- 16-1 (5) -- 10-12 (5) -- 39-1 (15) -- $8,158

6. Lance Williams -- Billings, Mo -- 12-15 (5) -- 16-1 (5) -- 9-10 (5) -- 38-10 (15) -- $7,163

7. Cory Steckler -- Rocky Mount, Mo -- 16-4 (5) -- 12-5 (5) -- 8-1 (3) -- 36-10 (13) -- $6,268

8. Brian Maloney -- Osage Beach, Mo -- 15-5 (5) -- 12-14 (5) -- 7-6 (3) -- 35-9 (13) -- $5,372

9. Dale Andrews -- Jay, Ok -- 12-14 (4) -- 20-1 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 32-15 (9) -- $4,477

10. Ladd Shannon -- Atkins, Ar -- 19-6 (5) -- 8-14 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 28-4 (8) -- $3,834

The following anglers did not make the cut and did not fish on day 3.

11. Rick Clunn -- Ava, Mo -- 17-1 (5) -- 10-13 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 27-14 (10) -- $3,358

12. Christopher Jones -- Bokoshe, Ok -- 15-10 (5) -- 12-3 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 27-13 (10) -- $3,134

13. Drew Sanford -- Springfield, Mo -- 14-8 (5) -- 13-5 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 27-13 (10) -- $2,686

14. Greg Bohannan -- Bentonville, Ar -- 17-11 (5) -- 9-11 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 27-6 (10) -- $2,686

15. Scott Rice -- Cobden, Il -- 7-15 (3) -- 18-12 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 26-11 (8) -- $2,686

16. Jason Vance -- Battle Ground, In -- 15-1 (5) -- 11-10 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 26-11 (10) -- $2,686

17. Dion Hibdon -- Versailles, Mo -- 12-0 (4) -- 14-11 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 26-11 (9) -- $2,686

18. Jeremy Lawyer -- Sarcoxie, Mo -- 11-12 (5) -- 14-6 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 26-2 (10) -- $2,686

19. Todd Hollowell -- Fishers, In -- 14-1 (5) -- 11-15 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 26-0 (8) -- $2,686

20. Brent Algeo -- Ozark, Mo -- 12-11 (5) -- 12-10 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 25-5 (10) -- $2,686

21. Todd Castledine -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 13-10 (5) -- 10-14 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 24-8 (10) -- $2,462

22. Travis Fox -- Rogers, Ar -- 11-10 (5) -- 12-11 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 24-5 (10) -- $3,962

23. Shane Long -- Willard, Mo -- 12-11 (5) -- 11-8 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 24-3 (10) -- $2,462

24. Jake Morris -- Mc Kee, Ky -- 10-14 (3) -- 13-4 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 24-2 (8) -- $3,462

25. Brett Govreau -- House Springs, Mo -- 13-12 (5) -- 10-1 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 23-13 (9) -- $2,462

26. Brandon Moss -- Blanchard, Ok -- 13-9 (5) -- 9-12 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 23-5 (10) -- $2,238

27. Cody Huff -- Ava, Mo -- 11-15 (5) -- 11-5 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 23-4 (10) -- $2,238

28. Brad Jelinek -- Deepwater, Mo -- 12-5 (5) -- 10-12 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 23-1 (8) -- $2,238

29. Rob Bueltmann -- Osage Beach, Mo -- 13-8 (5) -- 9-8 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 23-0 (8) -- $2,238

30. Kyle Welcher -- Cleveland, Tn -- 14-3 (5) -- 8-3 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 22-6 (10) -- $2,238

31. Michael Harlin -- Sunrise Beach, Mo -- 14-9 (5) -- 7-4 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 21-13 (10) -- $1,791

32. Stacey King -- Reeds Spring, Mo -- 7-11 (3) -- 14-2 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 21-13 (8) -- $1,791

33. Marcus Sykora -- Osage Beach, Mo -- 8-12 (5) -- 12-11 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 21-7 (10) -- $1,791

34. Sawyer Woods -- Caledonia, Ms -- 11-1 (5) -- 10-2 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 21-3 (10) -- $1,791

35. Brian Wilson -- Somerset, Ky -- 5-10 (3) -- 15-6 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 21-0 (8) -- $252

36. Matt King -- Olathe, Ks -- 9-15 (5) -- 10-14 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 20-13 (10)

37. David Holbrook -- Lake Ozark, Mo -- 13-10 (5) -- 7-2 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 20-12 (9)

38. Jimmy Washam -- Covington, Tn -- 12-9 (5) -- 8-3 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 20-12 (10)

39. Dan Morehead -- Paducah, Ky -- 10-7 (5) -- 10-2 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 20-9 (10)

40. Densmore Goodson -- Letcher, Ky -- 4-6 (3) -- 15-11 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 20-1 (8)

41. Robbie McDonald -- Little Rock, Ar -- 7-6 (4) -- 12-5 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 19-11 (9)

42. Brad Cook -- Afton, Ok -- 12-13 (5) -- 6-5 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 19-2 (8)

43. Kevin Meeks -- Smyrna, Tn -- 13-15 (5) -- 4-13 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 18-12 (7)

44. Dennis Berhorst -- Holts Summit, Mo -- 12-0 (5) -- 6-3 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 18-3 (8)

45. Andre Dickneite -- Freeburg, Mo -- 8-5 (5) -- 9-14 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 18-3 (10)

46. Roger Fitzpatrick -- Eldon, Mo -- 15-4 (4) -- 2-11 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 17-15 (5)

47. B.J. Miller -- Adams, Ne -- 10-5 (4) -- 7-8 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 17-13 (8)

48. Mike Feldermann -- Galena, Il -- 7-0 (2) -- 10-9 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 17-9 (6)

49. Steve Floyd -- Leesburg, Oh -- 7-4 (4) -- 10-3 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 17-7 (8)

50. Cole Findley -- Forsyth, Mo -- 9-3 (4) -- 7-13 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 17-0 (7)

51. Travis Wilson -- La Harpe, Il -- 6-3 (2) -- 10-12 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-15 (7)

52. Tom Silber -- Labadie, Mo -- 8-7 (4) -- 8-8 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-15 (7)

53. Scout Echols -- Monticello, Ar -- 10-13 (5) -- 5-15 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-12 (8)

54. Cole Floyd -- Leesburg, Oh -- 7-8 (3) -- 9-3 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-11 (8)

55. Chuck Stratton -- Chaffee, Mo -- 10-11 (5) -- 5-15 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-10 (8)

56. Quincy Houchin -- Mabelvale, Ar -- 9-8 (5) -- 7-2 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-10 (8)

57. Josh McDermott -- Fishers, In -- 5-12 (3) -- 10-13 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-9 (7)

58. Jimmy Gayhart -- Sadieville, Ky -- 2-12 (3) -- 13-12 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-8 (8)

59. Andy Newcomb -- Camdenton, Mo -- 5-3 (3) -- 10-15 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-2 (8)

60. Jay Melton -- Murfreesboro, Tn -- 9-5 (3) -- 6-13 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 16-2 (6)

61. Brandon Hunter -- Benton, Ky -- 9-14 (5) -- 6-0 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-14 (8)

62. Chris Whisnant -- Bonner Springs, Ks -- 5-9 (3) -- 10-3 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-12 (8)

63. William Campbell -- Middlesboro, Ky -- 9-15 (5) -- 5-11 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-10 (9)

64. Ken Young -- Saint Louis, Mo -- 12-1 (5) -- 3-2 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-3 (7)

65. Marty McGinnis -- Gravois Mills., Mo -- 8-7 (4) -- 6-11 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-2 (7)

66. Wesley Rogers -- Mammoth Spring, Ar -- 11-2 (5) -- 3-15 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-1 (7)

67. Michael Dove -- Brownsburg, In -- 6-1 (3) -- 9-0 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 15-1 (7)

68. Dakota Ebare -- Denham Springs, La -- 5-14 (2) -- 9-1 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 14-15 (7)

69. Mike Casada -- Stearns, Ky -- 9-12 (5) -- 5-2 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 14-14 (7)

70. Hunter Mills -- Mayfield, Ky -- 4-4 (2) -- 10-3 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 14-7 (6)

71. Shawn Kowal -- Linn Creek, Mo -- 6-8 (4) -- 7-14 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 14-6 (8)

72. Lucas Bradley -- Flippin, Ar -- 3-3 (2) -- 10-13 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 14-0 (7)

73. Landon Snelson -- Ava, Mo -- 5-8 (2) -- 8-8 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 14-0 (6)

74. Michael Bean -- Bowling Green, Ky -- 5-11 (3) -- 8-5 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 14-0 (7)

75. Kevin Riney -- Bono, Ar -- 10-9 (4) -- 3-6 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 13-15 (6)

76. John (Jack) Morris Jr -- Robinson, Il -- 1-5 (1) -- 12-5 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 13-10 (5)

77. Nickholis Hammond -- West Lafayette, In -- 13-7 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 13-7 (5)

78. Mark Dunbar -- Jefferson City, Mo -- 13-4 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 13-4 (5)

79. Nick Aber -- Yukon, Ok -- 3-7 (2) -- 9-7 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-14 (7)

80. Bradley Perkins -- Raymond, Ms -- 2-2 (1) -- 10-5 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-7 (5)

81. Josh Shirley -- Cabot, Ar -- 7-2 (3) -- 5-5 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-7 (6)

82. Zack Bull -- Arlington, Tn -- 7-6 (3) -- 5-0 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-6 (6)

83. Ronny Webb -- Dyersburg, Tn -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-2 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-2 (5)

84. Arnold Payne Jr. -- Kokomo, In -- 2-2 (1) -- 9-15 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-1 (5)

85. Ryan Butler -- Blue Eye, Mo -- 7-2 (3) -- 4-15 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 12-1 (6)

86. Lawson Tilghman -- Somerville, Tn -- 4-2 (2) -- 7-12 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-14 (5)

87. Sheldon Rogge -- Green, Ks -- 8-14 (4) -- 2-11 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-9 (5)

88. Michael Stetich -- Ankeny, Ia -- 4-1 (1) -- 7-8 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-9 (3)

89. Matt Wood -- Jessieville, Ar -- 2-1 (1) -- 9-7 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-8 (5)

90. Kyle Minke -- Lindstrom, Mn -- 8-3 (3) -- 3-4 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-7 (5)

91. Hunter Baughman -- Judsonia, Ar -- 8-2 (4) -- 3-3 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-5 (6)

92. Josh Ray -- Alexander, Ar -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-1 (5) -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-1 (5)

93. Derek Jenkel -- Pinckneyville, Il -- 8-7 (4) -- 2-10 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 11-1 (5)

94. Larry Jones -- Calhoun, La -- 10-9 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 10-9 (4)

95. Mickey Beck -- Lebanon, Tn -- 10-8 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 10-8 (4)

96. Dan Martin -- Elmhurst, Il -- 2-1 (1) -- 8-3 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 10-4 (5)

97. Chris Engelage -- Mascoutah, Il -- 4-10 (2) -- 5-1 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 9-11 (4)

98. Mike Roller -- Purdy, Mo -- 9-10 (4) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 9-10 (4)

99. Dustin Evans -- Eads, Tn -- 2-12 (1) -- 6-8 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 9-4 (4)

100. Mike Findley -- Portage, Mi -- 6-5 (3) -- 2-9 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-14 (4)

101. Michael Wooley -- Booneville, Ms -- 6-11 (3) -- 2-1 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-12 (4)

102. Alan Woodford -- Winslow, In -- 1-12 (1) -- 6-5 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 8-1 (3)

103. Austin Brown -- Benton, Ky -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-11 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-11 (3)

104. Quinten Storesund -- Panora, Ia -- 5-0 (2) -- 2-11 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-11 (3)

105. Kent Priel -- North Platte, Ne -- 3-11 (2) -- 3-10 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-5 (3)

106. Larry Stoafer -- Leavenworth, Ks -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-4 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-4 (3)

107. Matt Massey -- Littleton, Co -- 2-13 (1) -- 4-4 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-1 (3)

108. Robert Shockley -- Higginsville, Mo -- 4-12 (2) -- 2-4 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 7-0 (4)

109. Anthony Coupland -- Odenville, Al -- 5-4 (2) -- 1-10 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-14 (3)

110. Matt Pangrac -- Broken Arrow, Ok -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-13 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-13 (3)

111. Joe Brantley -- Willard, Mo -- 6-13 (3) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 6-13 (3)

112. Mike Odor -- Urbandale, Ia -- 2-4 (1) -- 3-11 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 5-15 (3)

113. Wesley Anderson -- Moscow, Tn -- 5-8 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 5-8 (2)

114. Chris Williams -- Maumelle, Ar -- 3-10 (2) -- 1-7 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 5-1 (3)

115. Jimmy Mize -- Ben Lomond, Ar -- 4-14 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 4-14 (2)

116. Jeff Defew -- Benton, Ky -- 4-6 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 4-6 (1)

117. Robert Werner -- Spanish Fort, Al -- 4-5 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 4-5 (2)

118. Jeff Fitts -- Keystone Heights, Fl -- 1-14 (1) -- 2-7 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 4-5 (2)

119. Jimmy Ingles -- Fort Worth, Tx -- 4-2 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 4-2 (2)

120. Kenneth Graeber -- Bennington, Ne -- 3-7 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 3-7 (1)

121. Bob Blackerby -- Chelsea, Al -- 3-2 (2) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 3-2 (2)

122. Chris Haas -- Benton, Ky -- 3-0 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 3-0 (1)

123. Dennis Culler -- Caseyville, Il -- 2-10 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 2-10 (1)

124. Adam Hornberger -- Troy, Il -- 0-0 (0) -- 2-1 (1) -- 0-0 (0) -- 2-1 (1)

Joey Schmidt -- Hickory, Ky -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)

Doug Henzlik -- Leawood, Ks -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0) -- 0-0 (0)