FLORENCE, Ala. (Nov. 1, 2014) – Zack Birge of Blanchard, Oklahoma, brought the second-largest stringer of the tournament to the scale Saturday – a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds even to win the Rayovac FLW Series Championship at Wheeler Lake with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 47 pounds even. For his victory, Birge took home $50,000, plus a berth in the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup.
“It was an awesome day and I’m very blessed,” said Birge, who started the day in third place, yet won by 7 pounds. “On the last day of practice I ran into some fish and it completely changed my mood and my game plan.
“I only caught 11 pounds on day one, but I knew they were there. I just didn’t get any big bites,” Birge said. “I went back Friday and had a good day, and thankfully they bit again today.”
Birge said his primary area featured big log jams on shallow sandbars with deep water channels nearby.
“It reminds me a lot of Grand Lake,” the Oklahoma angler said of his area. “Where I found my fish was absolutely identical to the places I find the fish back home.
“The first couple of days I was just throwing a spinnerbait up to the logs,” Birge continued. “They pulled current in the morning and I was able to get some good bites. Today, I was also slow-rolling my spinnerbait on the bottom. You had to really crawl it along. If you thought you were reeling slow enough, you had to slow down.”
Birge said that he averaged 8 to 12 keeper bass per day, and threw two shad-colored spinnerbaits – one a 3/4-ounce Santone Lures spinnerbait and the other a 1/2-ounce River2Sea Ish Monroe Bling Spinnerbait.
The top 10 boaters finished:
1st: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 15 bass, 47-0, $50,000
2nd: Chris Baumgardner, Gastonia, N.C., 14 bass, 40-0, $20,000 + $5,000 Ranger Cup
3rd: Casey Gallagher, Pulaski, Wis., 15 bass, 40-0, $15,000
4th: Todd Auten, Lake Wylie, S.C., 15 bass, 38-10, $12,000 + $2,000 Ranger Cup
5th: Chevy pro Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 15 bass, 36-9, $10,000 + $1,000 Ranger Cup
6th: Richard Peek, Centre, Ala., 14 bass, 36-7, $8,000
7th: George Kapiton, Inverness, Fla., 14 bass, 34-15, $7,000
8th: Chris McCall, Brookeland, Texas, 15 bass, 34-10, $6,000
9th: Chevy pro Jay Yelas, Corvallis, Ore., 12 bass, 31-3, $5,000
10th: Randy Haynes, Counce, Tenn., nine bass, 26-15, $4,500
The highest finishing boaters from each Rayovac FLW Series division that qualified for the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup were:
Central: Casey Gallagher, Pulaski, Wis.
Northern: Chris Baumgardner, Gastonia, N.C.
Southeast: Todd Auten, Lake Wylie, S.C.
Texas: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla.
Western: Roy Hawk, Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
Additionally, Thrift, Peek, Kapiton, McCall and Yelas also qualified for the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup as they were the five highest finishing anglers after the division leaders were removed.
Complete results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.
Overall there were 40 bass weighing 98 pounds, 2 ounces caught by boaters Saturday. The catch included five five-bass limits.
James Callaghan of DeBerry, Texas, won the co-angler division and a Ranger Z117C with an Evinrude or Mercury outboard motor with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 24 pounds, 3 ounces, followed by Justin Sward of Birmingham, Alabama, in second place with 13 bass weighing 22-11, worth $9,000.
The top 10 co-anglers were:
1st: James Callaghan, DeBerry, Texas, 15 bass, 24-3, Ranger Z117C Evinrude or Mercury
2nd: Justin Sward, Birmingham, Ala., 13 bass, 22-11, $9,000
3rd: Randy Gardner, Wetumpka, Ala., 10 bass, 20-7, $7,500
4th: Ryan Bowman, Seneca, S.C., 11 bass, 19-10, $6,000
5th: Casey Smith, Musella, Ga., 12 bass, 19-8, $5,000
6th: Carl Gillespie, Old Hickory, Tenn., nine bass, 19-5, $4,000
7th: Brett Rachal, Monroe, La., 13 bass, 18-13, $3,500
8th: Brandon Bray, Marble Falls, Texas, 11 bass, 16-2, $3,000
9th: Corey Bechtel, Macungie, Pa., nine bass, 15-8, $2,500
10th: Randy Forbes, Pleasant Plain, Ohio, seven bass, 15-3, $2,000
The highest finishing co-anglers from each Rayovac FLW Series division that qualified for the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup were:
Central: Carl Gillespie, Old Hickory, Tenn.
Northern: Ryan Bowman, Seneca, S.C.
Southeast: Justin Sward, Birmingham, Ala.
Texas: James Callaghan, De Berry, Texas
Western: Sunny Hawk, Salt Lake City, Utah
Additionally, Gardner, Smith, Rachal, Bray and Bechtel also qualified for the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup as they were the five highest finishing co-anglers after the division leaders were removed.
For a full list of results visit FLWOutdoors.com.
The 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship at Wheeler Lake was hosted by Florence/Lauderdale Tourism.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWOutdoors.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow FLW on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWOutdoors.
FLW is the industry’s premier tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2014 over the course of 229 tournaments across five tournament circuits, four of which provide an avenue to the sport’s richest payday and most coveted championship trophy – the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world. For more information about FLW visit FLWOutdoors.com and look for FLW on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.