FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE
That’s a peach
Pro Larry Peacher wins final Central Division tournament of the year
SHREVEPORT, La. – It's been hot as a hinge in, well, Louisiana for most of the week on the Red River. But as temperatures cooled off a bit for the final round of the EverStart Series Central Division season closer Saturday, the competition heated up. In the end, it was a local river rat named Larry Peacher who came away with his first victory in a Pro Division barnburner.
Pro Ricky Scott of Van Buren, Ark., set the mark to beat when he weighed in five bass worth 13 pounds even. Coming in from the river, Scott thought he might have had it won.
“I thought I had a little more weight than that,” he said. “I had all big ones. I guess they were just poor quality.”
Next up was Peacher, who set his sack full of five bass on the scale. The readout said 14 pounds, 5 ounces, but Peacher had one deceased fish. The 8-ounce penalty gave him 13-13, enough to beat Scott but left him to sweat it out as the opening-round leaders – Danny Gulledge and Newton Ford – came to the scale. He also had to worry about James Davis Jr., whose partner for the day, Jason Reyes, had just won the Co-angler Division.
And, one by one, they all fell short. Gulledge, the pro from Hamburg, Ark., who led days two and three, could only muster two bass weighing 5 pounds, 8 ounces while Ford, the day-one leader from Brandon, Miss., only notched one bass for 3-9. Davis put up five fish, but they were all little ones, topping out at 7-9.
Peacher, a 52-year-old rookie EverStart pro out of Bentley, La. – a town about 15 miles off the Red River downstream from Shreveport – had just won his first tournament.
Peacher used a little local know-how and a secret fishing hole to capture his winning stringer Saturday. This much we know: He fished on Pool 5 – the same pool that the takeoff point at Clark's Marina is on – all week and he caught most of his bass pitching a jig designed by fellow pro angler Jim Eakins. He focused on the submerged trees – he called them “stickups” – and he said he was “near Shreveport.” But, even after it was all over, he held firm to his fisherman's code of silence.
“I've been sworn to secrecy,” he responded when asked exactly where the spot was.
His silence might be warranted. Peacher sort of lay in the weeds throughout the week, posting just enough weight to make the cuts. But he knew something about his secret fishing hole. The Sunday before the tournament, he caught 19 pounds of fish there.
“I knew it was possible (to win) in there,” he said. “I just found the right pool. I caught them today, all day long. I probably culled all five of them at least once (each). There wasn't a whole lot of difference between today and the first three days. They just bit today and it was a matter of staying with them. By 11 o'clock every day, the bite was over.”
Over and just enough. Peacher, a plumbing and heating contractor whose previous best finish this season was 65th place at Sam Rayburn, collected $15,000 and a new Ranger boat for his first professional victory.
“I was sweating it out with those other two (Gulledge and Ford) still out there,” he said. “I'm just thankful I had enough to win it.”
Rest of the best
While Scott, a perennial BFL top-10 finisher, was admittedly a little disappointed with his second-place finish, he said he did all he could to win. He focused on a three-mile stretch in the main river channel flipping a tube with heavy line into willows and logjams to catch his 13 pounds.
“I stayed up there and beat up everything I had,” he said. “That's a pretty good sack down here. I just got beat today.”
Scott collected $10,000.
Mark Goines of Shady Point, Okla., took third place and collected $9,000 with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 6 ounces. Goines, too, has been mining a single honey hole all week and today thought it would really pay off. He hooked into a bass that he estimated at around 8 pounds – and then came a big blow when it broke off.
“It wouldn't have been so bad except, when he came off, I saw him come back up and wave at me,” he said, only half joking.
Jeff Pate of Heflin, La., locked into fourth place ($8,000) with four bass weighing 11 pounds even. Fishing a brush hog, he also lost a big bass Saturday – a 5-pounder – in heavy vegetation.
“We were fishing in such thick stuff it was like pulling a rubber boot through chicken wire,” Pate said.
Local hero Marvin Ettredge of Shreveport rounded out the top five pros. He took fifth place and collected $7,500 for five bass that weighed 9 pounds, 5 ounces.
“It was pretty vigorous out there. I was happy to get where I got,” he said.
As for Gulledge and Ford - the fearsome twosome who, for all intents and purposes, practically dominated the first three days of competition - it was just a run of bad luck Saturday as they respectively finished in eighth and 10th place. Ford had boat trouble all day while Gulledge said that the shad in his area “just didn't come up today.”
With his sixth-place finish at the Red River, Wesley Burnett of Hot Springs, Ark., came back to win the standings title in the Central Division. Jim Tutt of Longview, Texas, led in points coming into the week, but his 46th-place finish at this tournament dropped him into second place in the standings and allowed Burnett to move up from third place. Burnett wins the Central Division title with 757 points for the year. Tutt finished with 735.
It is the second standings title in two years that Burnett has won. In 2001 he won the Wal-Mart FLW Tour Co-angler Division points title. Burnett also won the 2000 EverStart Series Challenge (now Championship) while competing as a co-angler.
The Central and Eastern divisions have wrapped up for the 2002 season. The next EverStart Series event is the first of four Northern Division tournaments to be held June 26-29 on the Mississippi River in Welch, Minn.