By BassFan Staff

The population of Shelby, N.C. is just slightly over 20,000. Two of those folks have won FLW Tour events over the past 3 weeks.

Matt Arey, following in the footsteps of his good pal Bryan Thrift, claimed his first tour-level win Sunday at FLW's annual stop at Beaver Lake in Arkansas. He earned it, too, as some big sticks caught some hefty final-day bags in an effort to prevent him from achieving a longtime goal.

Arey's 15-09 stringer gave him a 4-day total of 59-03. That eclipsed Andy Morgan, who became a runner-up for the second time in four events this season, by about a pound and a half.

Morgan, the reigning Angler of the Year (AOY), boxed 16-08 to finish with 57-10. As a consolation prize, he took over the lead from Cody Meyer (who ended up 9th in the event) in their duel for the top slot in this year's points race.

Three-time AOY David Dudley finished 3rd as a tournament-best 16-09 sack pushed his total to 54-14. Travis Fox, who lives in Rogers, Ark. but had never experienced much success in Tour events at Beaver, ended up 4th with a 54-08 aggregate after a 15-15 final-day haul.

Casey Ashley, the winner at Lake Hartwell earlier this season, rounded out the Top 5 as his 16-00 bag gave him a 53-02 total.

Here are the final numbers for the remainder of the Top 10:

6. Micah Frazier: 52-07
7. Troy Morrow: 50-00
8. Scott Martin: 48-14
9. Cody Meyer: 48-13
10. Mark Rose: 46-11

The thunderstorms that were predicted for the final day didn't materialize until after the weigh-in, but Beaver's clear-water fish bit hard and often nonetheless. Half of the field weighed at least 15 pounds, and the number of such stringers was higher than on either of the first 2 days, when 173 anglers took to the water.

FLW/Garrick Dixon
Photo: FLW/Garrick Dixon

Runner-up Andy Morgan caught his two best fish in the final half-hour.

Morgan, who has 10 Top-20 finishes in the last 12 Tour derbies, has a 6-point edge over Meyer in the AOY chase. Jacob Wheeler, the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup champion, is a distant 3rd (57 points behind Meyer).

The circuit takes a 7-week break before the penultimate event June 5-8 at Alabama's Pickwick Lake.

Arey was Sweating

> Day 4: 5, 15-09 (20, 59-03)

Arey was extremely pleased that he caught such a strong final-day stringer, but he still had some anxious moments on stage before learning that it was enough to hold off the relentless Morgan.

"When Andy dropped 16 1/2 on the scale, I about collapsed in my boat," he said. "I didn't think I was going to be able to step off . My legs got weak and my family said my face turned white.

"Then I went from the ultimate low to the ultimate high. As soon as (emcee Chris Jones) took his hand off the scale and I saw that my first two numbers were a 1 and a 5, I knew it was over."

He had all of his day-4 weight by 10 o'clock as he boated seven keeper largemouths and four keeper spots mixed in with about half a dozen short fish. All five specimens he took to the scale came within a span of an hour and 15 minutes.

"When I got up into the low teens I was feeling pretty good, but I knew the door was still a little bit open. I was swinging all day as hard as I could, trying to get one more big bite to slam it, but it never happened."

He focused on rocky cover in transition areas and his primary offering was a finesse jig with a Wackem Crazy Baits twin-tail trailer. Full details of his winning pattern, as well as those of the other top finishers, will be published in the coming days.

2nd: Morgan Gave it a Good Run

> Day 4: 5, 16-08 (20, 57-10)

Morgan's runner-up showing was his second at Beaver in the past 3 years. His lone Tour victory came at the venue in 2007.

"These things are so hard to win," he said. "It seems like you have to have the best 4 days of your life to win a bass tournament.

"Of course I'd like to win, but I've got no complaints. I told Matt he did a heck of a job – we put the pressure on him and he gave it right back to us. I like to see somebody win who's that consistent."

He caught two 5-pounders – a largemouth and a smallmouth – in the final half-hour.

"I thought it might be pretty close after I caught that big smallmouth, but I was sure everybody in the field was catching them pretty good. I caught three fish on my last three casts and when that happened, I was pretty sure I didn't have enough. Everybody was pouring it to them."

3rd: Another Mixed Bag for Dudley

> Day 4: 5, 16-09 (20, 54-14)

Dudley's finish was his highest since his victory at Lake Champlain during his magical 2012 campaign.

"I did okay," he said. "Anytime you finish 3rd, you've got to be happy."

FLW/Kyle Wood
Photo: FLW/Kyle Wood

David Dudley's 3rd-place finish was his best since he won at Lake Champlain in 2012.

Every bag he weighed during the tournament contained at least one member of all three species (largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass). He went through 25 keepers on day 4, the biggest of which was a 5-pound largemouth.

"It's unbelievable how quick they start nibbling once the wind starts blowing here. It's like, game on, let's go.

"I caught them all day long, but for awhile it was slick as glass and I was wondering where all the wind we were supposed to have was. It ended up blowing for about 2 hours and that's when they really bit."

4th: Fox Laments Lost Fish

> Day 4: 5, 15-15 (20, 54-08)

Fox was thrilled to turn in such a good showing in front of his hometown crowd, but a bit bummed over losing a few big ones that would've led to an even higher placement.

"It 's nice, but it's kind of hard to focus on how well I did because I can't get over those ones I lost," he said. "At least I know I didn't make any mistakes with them – sometimes they just pull loose. I had a good week, though, and it feels great for the most part."

The first part of his morning was unproductive, but a 6-pounder and a 3 on his first two casts at his third stop got him rolling in the right direction. He had a limit by 10 o'clock and made his final cull at noon.

6th: Frazier Halts Bad Run

> Day 4: 5, 14-04 (20, 52-07)

Frazier might be the first angler in history to catch a 14-pound-plus bag at Beaver and actually drop one place in the standings.

"I never dreamed that would happen," he said. "But this isn't the same lake it used to be – it's a lot better.

"It was a grind today, but I kept running the same pattern. I didn't catch a lot of fish, but when I did catch one, it was usually a good one."

He fished flatter points with loose rock that were adjacent to steep banks. Most of his weigh-in fish were enticed by small swimbaits.

His finish ended a streak of four straight placements in the 100s dating back to last year.

"I needed it and it feels good to do well after having such a frustrating start to the year. I can't really recover in the points (to make the Forrest Wood Cup), but at least I got back in the swing of things and got some money and some confidence."


> Day 4 stats – 10 anglers, 10 limits.

Day 4 (Final) Standings

1. Matt Arey -- Shelby, NC -- 13-00 (5) -- 14-06 (5) -- 27-06 (10) -- 16-04 (5) -- 15-09 (5) -- 59-03 (20) -- $125,000

2. Andy Morgan -- Dayton, Tn -- 12-11 (5) -- 15-04 (5) -- 27-15 (10) -- 13-03 (5) -- 16-08 (5) -- 57-10 (20) -- $30,000

3. David Dudley -- Lynchburg, Va -- 12-00 (5) -- 13-10 (5) -- 25-10 (10) -- 12-11 (5) -- 16-09 (5) -- 54-14 (20) -- $25,000

4. Travis Fox -- Rogers, Ar -- 14-01 (5) -- 9-15 (5) -- 24-00 (10) -- 14-09 (5) -- 15-15 (5) -- 54-08 (20) -- $20,000

5. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 14-10 (5) -- 11-03 (5) -- 25-13 (10) -- 11-05 (5) -- 16-00 (5) -- 53-02 (20) -- $19,000

6. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, Ga -- 14-03 (5) -- 12-02 (5) -- 26-05 (10) -- 11-14 (5) -- 14-04 (5) -- 52-07 (20) -- $18,000

7. Troy Morrow -- Eastanollee, Ga -- 14-03 (5) -- 12-07 (5) -- 26-10 (10) -- 10-11 (5) -- 12-11 (5) -- 50-00 (20) -- $17,000

8. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 12-12 (5) -- 11-01 (5) -- 23-13 (10) -- 13-11 (5) -- 11-06 (5) -- 48-14 (20) -- $16,000

9. Cody Meyer -- Auburn, Ca -- 13-13 (5) -- 12-04 (5) -- 26-01 (10) -- 12-01 (5) -- 10-11 (5) -- 48-13 (20) -- $15,000

10. Mark Rose -- West Memphis, Ar -- 12-14 (5) -- 12-00 (5) -- 24-14 (10) -- 11-06 (5) -- 10-07 (5) -- 46-11 (20) -- $14,000