FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE
Veteran Williams wins Sam Rayburn EverStart
Trey Morgan takes second in Pro Division
JASPER, Texas – Alfred Williams had a plan coming into this week's EverStart Series Central Division opener at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. The veteran pro angler from Jackson, Miss., was fishing in the first Central Division tournament of his career, but he knew the key to these four-day tournaments is making that first cut.
“All you want to do in this format is make it to day three,” Williams said Thursday.
He did just that with an opening-round weight of 39 pounds, 4 ounces, then snuck into the finals with a three-bass weight of 8-6 Friday.
On Saturday, Williams put the hammer down, came in off the lake with five bass weighing 19 pounds, 13 ounces and won the Pro Division by over 6 pounds.
Williams, a retired Postal Service employee, has competed at all levels of FLW Outdoors fishing tournaments, including the early years of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour. A perennial contender in the BFL Mississippi Division, his years of experience finally paid off in the biggest way at Sam Rayburn. He won $20,000 cash, including a $3,000 bonus from Ranger boats for his participation in the Ranger Cup incentive program, and a new Ranger 519VS Comanche for the victory. The total prize package amounted to $61,900.
“I've been waiting on this a long time,” he said Saturday afternoon. “It's the biggest win of my career.”
Williams' strategy of pushing past the opening round, laying up in the semifinals and going for it in the finals worked to perfection for a reason: He had very little company at the productive fishing spots he worked all week.
It's not that fellow competitors couldn't have found him; he was fishing just 10 minutes or so from the ramp at Twin Dikes Marina. They just passed him by on the way to their own fishing holes.
“I had two spots down here, and it seems like there's so many fish there,” he said.
Williams found his main location the first day when he broke off “probably the biggest fish I've ever had in my life” there. The area held a supply of staging, pre-spawn bass in 6 to 8 feet of water, and he worked it over mainly with a lipless crankbait all week. He also used some smaller tubes and worms.
The cold, cloudy conditions that made fishing miserable for EverStart competitors all week continued Saturday, but the wind died down. That caused trouble for a few of the leaders whose fish bite fell off with the wind.
But Williams' bass just kept on biting: “One thing about these pre-spawn bass, they went up on this flat and they stayed there. I didn't have a ton of fish there at the same time, but I didn't feel they were going to go anywhere. But they wanted the bait really slow.”
Opening-round pro leader Trey Morgan of Goldonna, La., finished in second place (worth $10,000) with a five-bass weight of 13 pounds, 10 ounces.
Unlike many competitors who were working the grass with a Rat-L-Trap on Sam Rayburn all week, Morgan broke from convention and caught 19 of his 20 bass by flipping a 5-inch, green-pumpkin Right-Bite tube in shallow water.
“It just seemed like the right thing to do,” he said. “I'm not dissatisfied (with second place). I fished as hard as I could. My water just got really cold on me.”
Rest of the best
Even though David Junk of Quincy, Ill., said he had a hard time fishing Saturday, he managed to land five keepers weighing 12 pounds, 4 ounces for third place in the Pro Division and $9,000.
“This is a good lake,” he said, “but it's tough for me because I'm just learning how to fish it.”
One of the most consistent pros all week, David Truax of Beaumont, Texas, finished fourth and collected $8,000 with three bass weighing 9 pounds, 12 ounces.
“I needed that wind,” he said. “When I saw the calm wind this morning, I said, ‘Oh no.'”
Pro Eric Holt of Galena, Mo., took fifth place and collected $7,500 with a three bass weight of 7 pounds, 11 ounces.
“I got lucky to catch what I caught,” Holt said. “Yesterday, I beat the water to a froth and only caught four bass, so I knew I was in trouble today.”
The next EverStart Series tournament is an Eastern Division contest at Lake Martin in Alexander City, Ala., Feb. 26-Mar. 1. The Central Division will visit Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala., March 26-29 for its second regular-season event.