Today Denny Brauer caught 12-14 and won the Eufaula BASSMASTER with a 4-day total of 55-13. That was a bare 1 ounce better than runner-up Randy Blaukat, but that's all Brauer needed. Rounding-out the Top 5 were Angler of the Year winner Davy Hite, day 3 leader Ron Shuffield and day 2 leader Dan Morehead.

Even though Brauer is hardly a stranger to the victory podium, his win today is significant because he has been struggling with a painful back injury ever since his amazing seasons in the late 1990s. So how does it feel again to win? "I'm pumped," he said. "It's been a long time.

"I've had a bunch of really pathetic finishes, and it felt good just to get in the hunt again -- to put myself in position to win. And to have it happen, that's just frosting on the cake."

Asked if he ever felt like he'd win at Eufaula, Brauer said: "You don't ever really know for sure, but sometimes when you really bust them on the last day, you have an idea that you have a pretty good chance."

His 12-14 limit was the second-biggest of the day, behind Davy Hite's 16-05.

Flipped for the Win

As you might expect, Brauer caught his bass by flipping a Strike King Denny Brauer Pro Model jig. (The details of his winning pattern will be up soon.)

Most of his bites came late in the tournament day -- and in fact, today the bites came so late he had no idea what his weight was. "I couldn't tell them how much weight I had in the weigh-in line."

Heat Helped His Back

"This was probably the most physically exhausting event a lot of us have fished, with the heat and humidity," Brauer said. "It was a tough 4 days."

While most other competitors only had to deal with the heat, Brauer also had his bad back to contend with. But he said that "the extreme heat probably helped. It probably made it a little looser during the day.

"But by exercising (his back) more, I paid the price come evening." He added that he lost two fish during the 4 days because of his back. "I just didn't get good hooksets on them. I'm lucky they didn't end up costing me."

Blaukat Exasperated

"I pretty much ran out of cuss words after this and the M1 tournament," Blaukat joked. In this year's Ranger M1, he caught more total weight than winner David Dudley -- and also actually improved his catch from day 3 to day 4 -- but under the "drop-weight" format, he lost.

Adding to his woes today, Blaukat had the winning fish on at least four times, but lost them all. "I had about 17 pounds on and lost them," he said. "I had more bites today than I've had all week. They just came off."

One came off twice. "I caught a 5-pounder out of a bush," he said. "I wrestled the fish to the surface and it came off. I'm standing there all mad and everything, then pitch back into the bush and the fish eats it again. I got it halfway to the boat and it came off.

"It was tough. I've been whining for the last hour like you can't imagine."

Today he weighed-in a limit for 12-09 and had a 4-day total of 55-12.

Jones Strays from Plan, Pays Price

Alton Jones, who finished 6th, had his biggest limit of the tournament on day 3: 16-08, which was good enough to propel him from 21st into 5th. Day 4 looked like it would be good -- but Jones strayed from his plan and caught only 8 pounds.

"I'd like to do today over again," he said. "I figured I needed to catch about a 15-pound sack to win, and looking back on the day now I think I could have done that. But I didn't stick with my plan.

"Today I thought I needed to catch a really big sack on ledges," he said. "All week I've been pitching a 7-inch Riverside worm (junebug and watermelon colors) around flooded willows (1/4-ounce weight). I figured the willows were the last stuff the fish would be in before they headed to deep water.

"The first two days I fished part shallow, part deep and got just enough bites on the ledges to keep me going back. But all my big fish came shallow. Yesterday I stayed shallow all day and caught 16-08 -- but apparently I didn't learn from that and went out and did the ledge thing again today."

After his shallow early bite today, he went to the ledges and zeroed. "I went back (shallow) with an hour left, and those fish were eating," Jones said.

About his mistake, he said: "It was one of those days when I made an adjustment and didn't need to." Though he was disappointed, he said he was happy that his 6th-place finish got him into the BASS Masters Classic.

Day 4 Standings

1. Denny Brauer -- Camdenton, Mo. -- 20, 55-13 -- $110,000
Day 1: 5, 17-10
Day 2: 5, 11-12
Day 3: 5, 13-09
Day 4: 5, 12-14

2. Randy Blaukat -- Lamar, Mo. -- 20, 55-12 -- $48,000
Day 1: 5, 12-09
Day 2: 5, 16-14
Day 3: 5, 13-12
Day 4: 5, 12-09

3. Davy Hite -- Prosperity, S.C. -- 18, 55-09 -- $38,000
Day 1: 5, 19-01
Day 2: 3, 7-14
Day 3: 5, 12-05
Day 4: 5, 16-05

4. Ron Shuffield -- Bismarck, Ark. -- 20, 55-01 -- $36,000
Day 1: 5, 13-06
Day 2: 5, 16-09
Day 3: 5, 15-11
Day 4: 5, 9-07

5. Dan Morehead -- Paducah, Ky. -- 17 50-07 -- $17,500
Day 1: 5, 12-09
Day 2: 5, 18-08
Day 3: 5, 13-13
Day 4: 2, 5-09

6. Alton Jones -- Waco, Texas -- 20, 49-00 -- $13,000
Day 1: 5, 12-14
Day 2: 5, 11-10
Day 3: 5, 16-08
Day 4: 5, 8-00

7. David Walker -- Sevierville, Tenn. -- 20, 48-11 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-02
Day 2: 5, 13-02
Day 3: 5, 7-15
Day 4: 5, 11-08

8. Todd Auten -- Lake Wylie, S.C. -- 19, 45-05 -- $8,000
Day 1: 5, 10-12
Day 2: 5, 16-11
Day 3: 4, 9-12
Day 4: 5, 8-02

9. Mike Wurm -- Hot Springs, Ark. -- 19, 44-15 -- $7,000
Day 1: 5, 11-01
Day 2: 5, 14-07
Day 3: 5, 11-10
Day 4: 4, 7-13

10. Aaron A. Hastings -- Boonsboro, Md. -- 18, 42-15 -- $6,500
Day 1: 5, 9-00
Day 2: 5, 9-00
Day 3: 5, 19-05
Day 4: 3, 5-10