DECATUR, Ala. Through a series of flipping and pitching casts from a hidden cove, Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., accumulated 50 pounds…
DECATUR, Ala. Through a series of flipping and pitching casts from a hidden cove, Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., accumulated 50 pounds, 13 ounces, on his way to victory at the Evan Williams Bourbon Dixie Duel on Wheeler Lake. Biffle edged Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., who amassed 46-4 for second place in the third event of the 2009 Bassmaster Elite Series season.
With the victory, Biffle earns $100,000 and valuable points in the chase for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year trophy. In addition to the prestige of one Elite angler winning the trophy, the top 36 pros in the AOY standings at the end of the season will qualify for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic on Alabama’s Lay Lake.
During the weather-shortened Dixie Duel, Biffle found a secluded spot on Wheeler Lake without boat traffic and remained committed to it throughout the weekend. Friday’s competition was canceled due to unsafe river conditions, and by Saturday the river levels had increased nearly 2 feet compared to the first day of competition Thursday. Biffle, who bagged 14-13 on Sundays final day, said he was fishing in about 6 inches of water on the first day and the water was stained for the remainder of the event.
I was more concerned that the river bottom was going to drop and my area would be dry and that was my biggest fear, said Biffle, 51. With the quality of the maps and GPS detail now you can find places that you could never find before. You know this is right up my alley as I dont like to have others near. I was fortunate no one came in there.
Fishing fans can catch all of the on-the-water action from the Evan Williams Bourbon Dixie Duel on The Bassmasters, which airs Saturday, April 11, at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN2. The daily weigh-ins for this and all other regular-season Elite events as well as the two postseason events will air live at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN360.com, ESPNs broadband sports network, while a wealth of unique content will also be available at Bassmaster.com.
Rounding out the top five were 2004 Bassmaster Classic winner Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas, in third with 45-10; Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., in fourth with 45-4; and 2003 Bassmaster Classic champion Mike Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J., in fifth with 45-3.
While Biffle’s area was large enough for others to join, he was confident nonetheless of being able to boat at least 15 pounds a day. The former race boat driver said he caught at least 50 fish daily in the event, though he missed a couple of big bites Sunday. He remained committed to his pattern of a black and blue jig with a lizard trailer and was fishing around a lot of structure that included bushes.
I was able to skip an area if I missed a fish and come back to it later in the day, so it was a key to success, he said. The perfect condition would have been sunny all day — and without the water dropping about 8 inches overnight, bigger bags would have been caught.
Biffle’s last BASS victory was the Empire Chase on New Yorks Oneida Lake in 2006, the inaugural season for the Bassmaster Elite Series.
He said Sunday he thought the water temperature affected the bigger fish. On Saturday, he boated 19-14, the largest bag of the tournament.
When I caught them really good yesterday the temperature was up about 68 or 69 degrees, today the highest it got was 64, he said.
Ashley made the biggest upward move Sunday, from 15th to second, with a five-fish limit of 19-11, the days heaviest bag. He used two jerk baits of different sizes and a jig throughout the event. It paid off for Ashley, who was just short of capturing his second Bassmaster Elite Series title.
The third-year Elite angler was fishing a variety of edges and bluffs in 6 to 12 feet of water, and Sunday he had a limit by 8:30 a.m.
I was never really able to improve myself until I switched to a jig and caught a 6-pounder, said Ashley, 25. I would not have done anything different. I could not tell you the name of where I was fishing today but it was shallow and had some unique structure including grass.
Ashley was the first pro to the scales Sunday and had to sweat it out in the Toyota Tundra Hot Seat as the leader throughout most of the weigh-in.
It got interesting towards the end of the weigh-in, he said. There were a lot of heavy hitters towards the end who I thought would have caught them today.
After three events, 2008 Bassmaster Classic champ Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, leads the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year standings with 813 points. Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Ark., is second with 774 points, and Mark Menendez of Paducah, Ky., is third with 761.
The next stop for the Elite anglers is the April 23-26 Advance Auto Parts Blue Ridge Brawl on Smith Mountain Lake out of Moneta, Va., which has hosted five previous BASS events, including the 2007 Elite Series event that Ashley won as a rookie.
Complete standings for the tournament as well as the seasonlong Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings can be found below.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit Bassmaster.com. Visit ESPNOutdoorsMedia.com for ESPN Outdoors latest releases, schedules, other news and photos.
The local sponsor of the Dixie Duel is the Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Official Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, BOOYAH Baits, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats and Yamaha Marine
Supporting Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series: Bass Pro Shops, Costa Del Mar, Ramada, Sponge Tech & Triton Boats
EVAN WILLIAMS BOURBON DIXIE DUEL DAY 3
2009 Dixie Duel 4/2-4/5
Lake Wheeler, Decatur AL.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 3
Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts Total $$$
1. Tommy Biffle Wagoner, OK 15 50-13 310 $100,000.00 Day 1: 5 16-02 Day 2: 5 19-14 Day 3: 5 14-13
2. Casey Ashley Donalds, SC 15 46-04 295 $25,000.00 Day 1: 5 12-11 Day 2: 5 13-14 Day 3: 5 19-11
3. Takahiro Omori Emory, TX 15 45-10 290 $20,000.00 Day 1: 5 17-08 Day 2: 5 16-01 Day 3: 5 12-01
4. Brent Chapman Lake Quivira, KS 15 45-04 285 $15,000.00 Day 1: 5 13-10 Day 2: 5 13-00 Day 3: 5 18-10
5. Michael Iaconelli Runnemede, NJ 15 45-03 280 $14,000.00 Day 1: 5 17-01 Day 2: 5 12-12 Day 3: 5 15-06
6. Bradley Hallman Norman, OK 15 44-13 276 $13,500.00 Day 1: 5 13-01 Day 2: 5 17-13 Day 3: 5 13-15
7. Mark Tucker Saint Louis, MO 15 42-15 272 $13,000.00 Day 1: 5 11-09 Day 2: 5 18-07 Day 3: 5 12-15
8. Mark Menendez Paducah, KY 15 42-08 268 $12,500.00 Day 1: 5 16-01 Day 2: 5 11-00 Day 3: 5 15-07
9. Todd Faircloth Jasper, TX 15 42-03 264 $12,000.00 Day 1: 5 14-15 Day 2: 5 14-14 Day 3: 5 12-06
10. Stephen Browning Hot Springs National Pa 15 41-15 260 $11,500.00
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