By BassFan Staff

Professional bass fishing is oftentimes a game of adaptation to changing conditions. Bradley Hallman made all the right adjustments at the Lake Lanier FLW Tour, including switching species on the final day.

After bringing 15 spotted bass to the scale Thursday through Saturday, Hallman toted five largemouths to the stage in Gainseville, Ga. on Sunday. They weighed a combined 13-01, the same as his bag of spots from the previous day, and that number was more than enough to allow him to close out a wire-to-wire victory.

It was the second Tour triumph in the span of 25 months for Hallman, whose 4-day total of 68-04 was 2-10 clear of runner-up and fellow Oklahoman Zack Birge.

"The first win was a much bigger high because it was a lifelong dream, but this one is pretty special," said Hallman, who won at Florida's Lake Okeechobee in 2016. "At the first one, after I had everything figured out, it was all about the honey hole.

"This one I had to earn."

Indeed he did. He went from throwing a jerkbait and swimbait on points on day 1 to fishing marina seawalls on day 2 to pulling fish from underneath docks on day 3 to catching Chattahoochee River largemouths with a spinnerbait on day 4. He established a lead of nearly 3 1/2 pounds with his tournament-best 23-11 stringer on the opening day and didn't allow anybody to close that gap until Birge finally took a small chunk of it (but not nearly enough) at the final weigh-in.

Birge boxed 16-00 on day 4 to finish with 65-10. Joseph Webster finished 3rd with 65-02 after a day-best 17-08 haul on the last day.

Local standout Jason Johnson ended up 4th after a 16-08 stringer left him with a 65-01 aggregate. Braxton Setzer rounded out the top 5 with 63-02 (15-13 on day 4).

Here's a look at the bottom half of the top 10:

6. Cody Meyer: 62-10
7. Jeff Gustafson: 62-03
8. David Williams: 61-12
9. Jordan Osborne: 60-06
10. Austin Felix: 57-11

In 20 starts on the FLW Tour, Hallman has the two victories, but no other finish higher than 18th. He's finished 100th or lower on six occasions.

He's now in 33rd place in the Angler of the Year race and in position to qualify for his first Forrest Wood Cup. The points list is now topped by Florida rookie Jared McMillan, who finished 4th and 9th in the two events in his home state at 20th at Lanier.

Photo: FLW

With no sun to position spotted bass on predictable cover, Hallman went up the Chattahoochee River to pursue largemouths on day 4.

The Tour takes a 4-week break before resuming at Lake Cumberland in Kentucky on April 12.

Hallman Pleased

> Day 4: 5, 13-01 (20, 68-04)

With all of the game-plan changes he was forced to make, Hallman deemed this week's performance as his best ever. The biggest switch-up occurred on day 4, when he was certain that the rainy conditions would prevent the spots from positioning on the docks where he'd caught them the previous day.

He'd gotten a few decent bites on a spinnerbait late on days 2 and 3 after returning from the spot-infested lower end of the lake and determined he should give that program a try on the final day. He didn't clobber the largemouths, but his harvest was plenty to hold off Birge.

He boated eight or nine keepers, including a couple of 3 1/2-pounders.

Photo: FLW

Zack Birge finished a little more than 2 1/2 pounds behind his fellow Oklahoman.

"I had most of my weight on my first five fish - probably by about 10 o'clock," he said. "I made one cull for ounces in the afternoon."

Full details of his winning pattern, as well as those of the other top finishers, will be published this week.

2nd: Birge Stayed Put

> Day 4: 5, 16-00 (20, 65-10)

Facing a deficit of about 5 1/2 pounds to start the day, Birge's primary goal was to keep from back-sliding in the standings. Mission accomplished.

"I was just happy that I didn't fall back any - I managed to hold my position," he said. "I just lacked two more decent bites or I could've won. The potential was there.

"I missed a few that were just nipping at the bait and I broke one off on a shaky-head, but it could've been small. I don't feel like I lost anything that would've helped me."

He handled six keepers on the day, all of which bit between 10:30 and noon. All 20 of his weigh-in fish were enticed by a YUM Pulse swimbait, which will be introduced at ICAST this summer.

3rd: Webster Rebounds

> Day 4: 5, 17-08 (20, 65-02)

Webster, a second-year pro from Mississippi, had a decent start to the season (48th at Okeechobee), but completely bombed at the Harris Chain (156th). This finish pulled him back to 50th in the points race.

"This feels real good compared to where I finished in the last one," he said. "Things are looking up."

He caught more than two dozen keepers on day 4, the biggest of which was a 4 1/2-pounder.

Photo: FLW

Joseph Webster caught more than two dozen keepers on the final day.

"I only lost one fish all week and it was one that came off in a tree yesterday. It wouldn't have helped."

He caught his fish cranking on day 1 and throwing a shaky-head and flipping docks on day 2. He went back to the crankbait and mixed in a spinnerbait on the final 2 days.

4th: Johnson Thrilled with Support

> Day 4: 5, 16-08 (20, 65-01)

Johnson, a resident of nearby Dawsonville, Ga., logged what was by far his best finish in 3 1/2 years on the circuit. A large contingent of fans turned out to cheer him on at the weigh-ins.

"It was great," he said. "The grind I go through - I still do this basically all out of my own pocket - and then to have all those people I've fished against for 20 years on this lake come out, it made it all worth it."

He weighed five fish that were all in the 3- to 3 1/2-pound range on day 4. He boated about 20 keepers on a soft stickbait and a small swimbait.

"I did lose one that felt really good - it got into a brush pile. That happens on this lake because there's a lot of brush piles.

"I had a lot of bites where they were just holding the worm up and not getting it. They were biting like they're spawning, but I know they're not."

5th: Setzer Satisfied

> Day 4: 5, 15-13 (20, 63-02)

Setzer started the season with a 145th-place stinker at Okeechobee, but has now logged back-to-back top 20s to climb to No. 50 in the points race.

"I'm happy with it," he said. "Anytime you get a top 10 on tour, or even a top 30, you have to be happy with that, although everybody wants to do better."

He pursued deep-water spots for the duration of the derby. He went through about 30 keepers on day 4 and his best specimen was a 3 3/4-pounder.

He employed a shaky-head and a small swimbait for the week and added two weigh-in fish on a jerkbait.

"I lost a good one this morning - I never moved her. I got maybe a half-turn of the handle and she came off almost instantly. The reason I felt like it was a good fish was because I never lifted her."


> Day 4 stats – 10 anglers, 9 limits, 1 four.

Day 4 (Final) Standings

1. Bradley Hallman -- Norman, Ok -- 23-11 (5) -- 18-7 (5) -- 13-1 (5) -- 13-1 (5) -- 68-4 (20) -- $102,700

2. Zack Birge -- Blanchard, Ok -- 16-6 (5) -- 18-3 (5) -- 15-1 (5) -- 16-0 (5) -- 65-10 (20) -- $30,100

3. Joseph Webster -- Winfield, Al -- 16-7 (5) -- 16-6 (5) -- 14-13 (5) -- 17-8 (5) -- 65-2 (20) -- $25,000

4. Jason Johnson -- Dawsonville, Ga -- 18-4 (5) -- 12-11 (5) -- 17-10 (5) -- 16-8 (5) -- 65-1 (20) -- $20,000

5. Braxton Setzer -- Montgomery, Al -- 14-0 (5) -- 18-7 (5) -- 14-14 (5) -- 15-13 (5) -- 63-2 (20) -- $19,000

6. Cody Meyer -- Auburn, Ca -- 15-8 (5) -- 15-0 (5) -- 16-6 (5) -- 15-12 (5) -- 62-10 (20) -- $18,000

7. Jeff Gustafson -- Keewatin, On -- 17-12 (5) -- 13-6 (5) -- 17-8 (5) -- 13-9 (5) -- 62-3 (20) -- $17,000

8. David Williams -- Maiden, NC -- 18-7 (5) -- 16-6 (5) -- 11-9 (5) -- 15-6 (5) -- 61-12 (20) -- $16,000

9. Jordan Osborne -- Longview, Tx -- 12-10 (5) -- 18-11 (5) -- 14-15 (5) -- 14-2 (5) -- 60-6 (20) -- $15,000

10. Austin Felix -- Eden Prairie, Mn -- 15-1 (5) -- 19-5 (5) -- 12-7 (5) -- 10-14 (4) -- 57-11 (19) -- $14,500