DAYTON, Tenn. – The old cliché in bass fishing is that “when it’s your time, it’s your time.” While that typically is reserved for pros searching for that one difference-making bass, the saying rang true for co-angler Jerry Reagan this week on Lake Chickamauga.
The veteran fisherman was having a so-so opening day with Chris Baumgardner until he caught a 5-pounder right before it was time to head in. Then, on his very first cast of day two with John Devere, he caught another 5-pounder and was on his way to an incredible 18-pound, 5-ounce stringer.
The big bites didn’t end there as Reagan caught yet another 5-pounder mid-morning on day three with Casey Martin. Regardless if you’re a pro or a co-angler, when you catch 5-pounders in three consecutive tournament days it’s your time.
On day one, Reagan swam a Zoom Speed Craw shallow. On day two, he fished a 1/8-ounce shaky head with a Zoom finesse worm and today he started with a football jig, but had to switch up to a 3/8-ounce drop-shot with a 12-inch leader and a Roboworm in morning dawn color.
“I had three great partners this week; I can’t emphasize that enough,” said Reagan. “Not just good fishermen, but very gracious people too. I knew John from the Mountain Division of the BFL so I was familiar with his style and that was really to my advantage. Today, I fished with Casey Martin and let me just say that he is on a very big school. It started out slow, but once we switched to the drop-shot we started whacking them.”
Reagan’s day-three weight was 16 pounds, 11 ounces, giving him 46-12 for the week and a margin of victory of nearly 8 pounds. While Reagan has tournament fished successfully with FLW for many years, this was his first victory since 1986, back when the BFL was called the Red Man Trail.
“It feels great to win one again. I have come so close several, several times. I say this without being arrogant, but I was due. It was my time.”
With his $25,000 in winnings, the 63-year-old Reagan plans to make a move to the front of the boat on the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour.
“I don’t have grandiose illusions, but I’m going to take this as my sign and jump over to the pro side next year.”
Beale soars to second
Kenny Beale Jr. nearly completed the improbable task of going from last to first – starting the day in 20th and rising all the way to second after catching 18 pounds, 4 ounces. Beale finished the tournament with a cumulative weight of 38 pounds, 13 ounces, earning $7,134.
“Yesterday I only had two fish and that really cost me,” said Beale, of Blairs, Va. “But it was also a blessing because I got to fish with Matt Arey today. He’s a great guy and we were around some good fish out deep in 18 to 27 feet of water.”
On day one, Beale caught 16-5 stringer on an Alabama rig and a drop-shot. Each of the last two days all of his fish came on the drop-shot.
“It’s kind of funny. I had never caught one on a drop-shot until this week. But it works; I’m a believer now.”
Beale used a 3/8-ounce weight with a 5-inch Wackem Crazy Baits finesse worm and short 6- or 8-inch leader.
“I caught nine keepers and my best five were all between 3 and 4 1/2 pounds. I just had a great day, what else can you say?”
Winchester finishes third
“I got to fish with Luke Clausen for two days this week; he had me around fish and I caught limits both days,” said Winchester. “I can’t say anything bad about this week.”
Winchester also did most of his damage this week with a drop-shot. He earned $4,750.
Hensley, Loeffelman round out top five
Co-angler big stick Nick Hensley rallied from 42nd place on day one to finish the event fourth.
His 13-pound, 12-ounce limit pushed his total weight for the week to 37 pounds, 1 ounce. The Cumming, Ga., pro will make the short trip home with a $3,797 check in tow.
“It was another good tournament,” said Hensley, the 2011 Co-angler of the Year. “I really battled my way back. Now I’m starting to look ahead to the Forrest Wood Cup. I hope it’s a good one like last year.”
Nick Loeffelman Jr. of Valley Mines, Mo., rounds out the top five with 36 pounds, 14 ounces. Loeffelman’s limit Saturday weighed 16 pounds, 4 ounces. He earned $2,844.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers at the FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga:
6th: Wesley Watson of Bracey, Va., 35-1, $2,367
7th: Dustin Evans of Eads, Tenn., 34-8, $1,890
8th: Glenn Day of Cumming, Ga., 34-2, $1,700
9th: Andrew Owens of Dividing Creek, N.J., 33-10, $1,604
10th: Josh Smith of Hamilton, Ohio, 32-14, $1,509