By BassFan Staff
On a day when no one managed to tap into one last big stringer to ramp up the final-day drama, Britt Myers turned to a trusted bait as his time in the Cooper River ticked away.
“I had three fish for a long time, but I was still calm and the water got slick,” he said.
That’s when he made, possibly, the shrewdest move of the Winyah Bay Elite Series. He picked up a white Zoom Super Fluke, a soft-plastic staple just about everywhere, but especially so in his home state.
“Maybe it was me being from South Carolina and knowing that was the key to doing this,” he said.
He finished his limit, then made an upgrade for a few ounces late in the day that turned out to be what he needed to capture his first career Elite Series victory. His 9-05 stringer was far and away his smallest bag of the tournament, but it was enough to overtake Brett Hite, who led after day 3 but only mustered two keepers out of the Cooper today for 5-13. Myers, who posted consecutive runner-up finishes in 2012, closed with 56-03, four ounces more than Hite’s 55-15 total.
“This is pretty cool,” Myers said. “It ain’t even real. I can’t even explain what’s going on. I didn’t even think I could win this event coming back today. I picked up a Zoom Super Fluke at the last minute just to try catch some squeakers and if you watch the video I probably acted like I didn’t have much weight. I cannot believe this. This is absolutely insane. I was just hoping to win the ARE bonus money. I had no idea.”
Kelly Jordon, who spent all week in the Santee River, bagged four fish for 6-03 and finished 3rd with 55-03. It’s his best finish in an Elite Series tournament since he took 2nd at the Mississippi River in June 2009.
It was a sizable gap back to the rest of the pack as Brent Chapman and Randy Howell both finished with 47-11, with Chapman winning the tiebreaker for 4th place based on him catching the heaviest single-day bag (16-09 on day 3) between the two.
Here's how the remaining finalists finished up:
1. Britt Myers: 56-03
2. Brett Hite: 55-15
3. Kelly Jordon: 55-03
4. Brent Chapman: 47-11
5. Randy Howell: 47-11
6. Keith Combs: 46-13
7. Gerald Swindle: 46-07
8. Jacob Powroznik: 46-02
9. Boyd Duckett: 45-05
10. Chris Zaldain: 43-09
11. John Hunter, Jr.: 40-14
12. Mark Menendez: 39-02
A strong cold front Saturday night had the three leaders scratching their heads for most of the final day. It wasn’t until after 12:30 that one of them – Myers – finished his limit. Only six other finalists managed to bring five to the scale and Gerald Swindle, Boyd Duckett, Randy Howell and Keith Combs were the only competitors to crack the 10-pound mark, with Swindle and Howell maxing out at 11-10.
After a week off, the Elite Series schedule shifts to the Ozarks for a first-of-its-kind event at two different lakes in Arkansas – Bull Shoals and Norfork – on April 21-24.
Change to Fluke Sealed It
> Day 4: 5, 9-05 (20, 56-03)
Myers, who owns and operates CS Motorsports, an automotive customization shop in Gastonia, N.C., didn’t have the slightest inkling after practice that he’d be holding the trophy on Sunday afternoon in his home state.
“(Former Elite Series angler) Marty Stone once told me that when you win one of these, you’ll expect it the least and when you expect to win, it’ll never happen,” Myers said.
As the minutes ticked away Sunday and morning turned to afternoon, Myers was convinced that his shot at winning was starting to evaporate. He had three fish at the time and his area wasn’t producing the bites it had been and he was starting to cycle through potential backup plans in his mind.
“I thought that I had blown it,” Myers said in the B.A.S.S. press release. “The water got slick and the fishing slowed to a grinding halt, making me wonder what it was going to take to find two more fish. In my mind, I was scrambling to salvage 5th place, and that’s a tough position to be in.”
Myers made a bait change this afternoon and it helped him finish his limit and make a key upgrade to seal the win.
Toward the end of the day, he had a bite on a ChatterBait, but the fish only nipped at the trailer. He made the switch to the Super Fluke, putting a plan in place that he’d formulated Saturday night in the event his productive ChatterBait patterns started to dry up.
“After switching to the Super Fluke, I caught a 10- to 11-incher almost immediately,” he said. “I felt that was a sign, so I stuck with it and caught several other small fish during the last hour, but I was able to fill out my limit and cull up one time before heading in.”
Myers spent the whole tournament in the Cooper River where he focused on an abandoned rice field with irrigation drains that were filled with hydrilla and stumps, creating an ideal situation to catch bass during all phases of the spawn.
“When the tide wasn’t perfect, I fished stumps looking for spawning bass,” he explained. “When the tide picked up, I fished the current breaks near the hydrilla points and near logs and laydowns. There were times when I could almost call my shot.”
Full details of his winning pattern, as well as those of the other top finishers, will be published soon.
2nd: Bites Dried Up for Hite
> Day 4: 2, 5-13 (17, 55-15)
Hite had noticed the water temperature drop by a couple degrees where he was fishing on Saturday and when he arrived in the old, abandoned rice field Sunday morning, it had plummeted a few more degrees.
He said the fish were still there, but they just weren’t in the feeding mood today and because of that he had to settle for a runner-up finish.
“The cold front has to be one of the major factors,” he said. “The fish are still there. They just weren’t biting. I was pretty shocked. I’m disappointed, but not really when I start to think about it. I have two fish on the last day and still have a chance to win. How can I be disappointed in that? When I wake up tomorrow, I’ll be happy with a 2nd-place finish. It’s been a good week.”
He was pleased with his execution and he was in his comfort zone catching most of his fish on a vibrating jig that has become his specialty.
“I was committed to the bladed jig, a Senko and a dropshot,” he said. “If I had it to do over again, I probably would’ve thrown the dropshot around more today. At the same time, you can’t be in that position and know how we all have been catching them … I was thinking Kelly or Britt would have 12 to 20 pounds so I knew I needed to catch ‘em. I can’t complain. I fished clean. I just didn’t catch them today.”
It was a struggle for Brett Hite to get much going today.
3rd: Jordon’s Area Shut Down
> Day 4: 4, 6-03 (15, 55-03)
Jordon thought he was on a potentially special area at the Elite Series season opener at the St. Johns River. Some faulty execution – he graded himself a D-minus – led to a 67th-place finish, but he still felt good about being back on the water after missing much of last year while recovering from a broken wrist.
This week, he wrestled with the decision between going to the Cooper River or rolling the dice in the Santee River. Never one to steer clear of a gamble, Jordon chose the Santee and nearly pulled off a win despite catching five fewer fish than Myers during the event.
“This was a grind,” Jordon said. “Nobody was looking forward to this tournament because of how crazy it was going to be. You cannot have that defeated mindset going in. I knew I had to buckle down and grind it out.
“I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year and I hope to take some momentum from this. It’s great to have a really good finish and be so close to winning.”
His area in the Santee had rounded into prime shape during the tournament and he was hopeful the big fish that he’d been catching – he caught at least four fish over 5 pounds – would still be in ample supply today.
He cycled through a number of baits, from the vibrating jig he’d been successful with to an array of crankbaits and soft plastics, but all he could muster was four keepers for 6-03. He’d caught two fish earlier in the event bigger than his final-day stringer.
“They’re still there,” he said. “The water temp didn’t change, but the river’s been dropping where I was. It dropped a lot from day 2 to 3 and it was a little lower today, like 6 to 8 inches. Maybe that was enough to make them shut down, plus that front. These are Florida-stain bass as far as I know.
“It blew my mind because I know they’re there. I caught four, but they were the smallest bass I’d seen there. I couldn’t make them bite. I didn’t catch near as many pickerel, but when I did they were hammers. Every time I’d flip, a mudfish would bite.”
4th: Chapman Caught ‘Em Quick
> Day 4: 5, 9-04 (19, 47-11)
Chapman felt like the cold front left the door open for someone outside the Top 3 to possibly make a run at the win. He wishes it had been him.
“I’m kind of sick about it,” he said. “I almost didn’t think there was a shot at winning, but with an amazing day, I could’ve won this thing. It was quite a shocker of a day. I doubt anyone would’ve bet that would’ve happened on the final day.”
Like Myers and Hite, he was also fishing the Cooper, but was more toward the mouth where he had been catching his fish on a variety of baits, including a shallow-running crankbait, a worm and a vibrating jig.
Today, he started with the vibrating jig, but couldn’t draw a strike. He switched to the worm and caught most of his weight on it today.
“I wish I would’ve stuck with the worm more,” he said. “I only had one on the crankbait today. I had to continually change with the baits. I love to junk-fish, but I love to get into an area with a lot of fish and that’s what I did. I just changed with the fish each day.”
It took him roughly a half-hour today catch a limit and looking back, he wishes he would’ve tried some other things afterward to coax some upgrades.
“There were a lot of fish in that area, but I never broke out a finesse bait like a dropshot,” he said. “I wish I would’ve done that, but I can’t complain about a 4th-place finish.”
Kelly Jordon was stumped about why the bigger fish in the Santee River quit biting today.
5th: Howell Stuck with Santee
> Day 4: 5, 11-10 (20, 47-11)
Howell wasn’t sure what to think about this tournament or the venue before it began. He wasn’t able to make a scouting trip to Georgetown, S.C., due to the flooding that occurred over the winter, but once there, he committed himself to the Santee River and skipped and flipped his way to his second 5th-place finish of 2016 already (he also was 5th at the Classic).
“I am tickled to death,” he said. “I was very anxious like a lot of people about this event. I did not knowing anything about it.”
He employed a methodical and patient approach this week in picking over the seemingly endless targets that lined the flooded shorelines in the Santee. His primary patterns were skipping a bubblegum-colored Senko into flooded bushes and trees and flipping a creature bait along the outside of the wood as the water started to fall.
“I had caught a bunch real early the other days, but today started real slow,” he said. “I caught two on a square-bill crankbait and the flipping bite was slow. I think that cold front shut down the bigger fish. I probably caught 10 1- to 1 1/4-pounders today.
“I was thinking today would be even better because the water had come down. I caught more fish, but only one 4-pounder. I’m very thankful and pleased with how the week went.”
> Day 4 stats – 12 anglers, 7 limits, 2 fours, 1 three, 1 two, 1 zero.
1. Britt Myers -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 20, 56-03 -- 110 -- $101,500
Day 1: 5, 16-08 -- Day 2: 5, 21-07 -- Day 3: 5, 08-15 -- Day 4: 5, 9-05
2. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, AZ -- 17, 55-15 -- 109 -- $25,000
Day 1: 5, 12-07 -- Day 2: 5, 19-11 -- Day 3: 5, 18-00 -- Day 4: 2, 5-13
3. Kelly Jordon -- Flint, TX -- 15, 55-03 -- 108 -- $20,000
Day 1: 1, 08-05 -- Day 2: 5, 24-07 -- Day 3: 5, 16-04 -- Day 4: 4, 6-03
4. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 19, 47-11 -- 107 -- $15,000
Day 1: 4, 07-01 -- Day 2: 5, 14-13 -- Day 3: 5, 16-09 -- Day 4: 5, 9-04
5. Randy Howell -- Guntersville, AL -- 20, 47-11 -- 106 -- $14,000
Day 1: 5, 10-11 -- Day 2: 5, 09-01 -- Day 3: 5, 16-05 -- Day 4: 4, 11-10
6. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 20, 46-13 -- 105 -- $13,500
Day 1: 5, 13-13 -- Day 2: 5, 12-04 -- Day 3: 5, 10-05 -- Day 4: 5, 10-07
7. Gerald Swindle -- Warrior, AL -- 20, 46-07 -- 104 -- $13,000
Day 1: 5, 10-05 -- Day 2: 5, 11-09 -- Day 3: 5, 12-15 -- Day 4: 5, 11-10
8. Jacob Powroznik -- Port Haywood, VA -- 20, 46-02 -- 103 -- $12,500
Day 1: 5, 09-13 -- Day 2: 5, 12-03 -- Day 3: 5, 15-09 -- Day 4: 5, 8-09
9. Boyd Duckett -- Guntersville, AL -- 20, 45-05 -- 102 -- $12,000
Day 1: 5, 07-03 -- Day 2: 5, 14-05 -- Day 3: 5, 13-13 -- Day 4: 5, 10-00
10. Chris Zaldain -- Laughlin, NV -- 20, 43-09 -- 101 -- $11,500
Day 1: 5, 08-15 -- Day 2: 5, 12-06 -- Day 3: 5, 13-11 -- Day 4: 5, 8-09
11. John Hunter Jr -- Shelbyville, KY -- 13, 40-14 -- 100 -- $11,000
Day 1: 5, 06-10 -- Day 2: 3, 12-01 -- Day 3: 5, 22-03 -- Day 4: 0, 0-00
12. Mark Menendez -- Paducah, KY -- 18, 39-02 -- 99 -- $10,500
Day 1: 5, 10-13 -- Day 2: 5, 11-10 -- Day 3: 5, 13-05 -- Day 4: 3, 3-06