Anderson, SC – California based FLW Tour pro Brent Ehrler held off a field of over 150 anglers on Lake Hartwell for his seventh FLW victory. Ehrler used a variety of baits fishing from 2 feet to 50 feet deep to avenge his runner-up finish on Hartwell in 2011.
“I found a spot on the morning of the third day of practice where I caught a two and a half pounder. When I got the fish in the boat I looked at my Humminbird electronics and saw that it was loaded with fish. Those fish had followed the one I caught right to my boat. I knew this was a spot that I could do very well, if not win the event and I left without making another cast,“ explained Ehrler.
Lake Hartwell is often considered a lake that patterns hold consistent. “When you find a pattern on Hartwell, you can run all over the lake and it should work. After I found that first spot, I was able to find several other spots very similar and they all held fish. Overall, I had six spots I felt I could put fish in the boat.”
On day one, Ehrler stopped about 75 yards short of the spot he had found on that third morning of practice. “I started by casting a jig into water about 35 feet deep and dragging or hopping the jig through the brush piles on the bottom. I was able to boat a limit before I ever reached the spot I was headed for. While I was fishing the jig I was keeping a close eye on my graph and started seeing fish. That’s when I would race my jig back to the boat and drop a drop shot with a six-inch straight tail Roboworm on the fish. Using my electronics I could watch the fish follow the Roboworm to the bottom and then eat the bait. It was a lot like playing a video game. The Humminbird electronics are amazing and being able to see the fish and watch the fish follow the bait up and down on the graph was a key to getting the best fish in the boat. Over half of the fish I weighed including my biggest two fish of the week, each about five and a half pounds, came from this technique.”
After filling his limit on day one Ehrler went shallow for bigger fish. “When I left the deep water fish I headed for the docks to skip Phenix jigs and Yamamoto Senkos under them. The fish seemed to be right up under the docks for the most part on day one and I was able to upgrade my limit by a few pounds late in the day withthis technique.”
Ehrler finished day one with 20 pounds and four ounces.
The second day of the event went very similar to the first. However, instead of stopping 75 yards short of the first spot, he stopped 75 yards to the other side of the spot he believed could be the winning spot. “I never got to the actual spot on the first day and the second day was the same. By the time I got within 25 yards of the spot I already had a good limit and thought I would save the prime area for the final two days.”
Once again, Ehrler used Phenix Jigs and drop shotted Roboworm baits to catch his limit on the second day of the event.
After securing a solid limit for the second day Ehrler this time went shallow with the Picasso School-E rig, an umbrella rig bait. “I rigged the School-E rig with four Yamamoto swim tails and a Keitech Swing Impact swimbait. I didn’t catch a lot of fish with it, mostly because I didn’t fish it all that much. Yet, I was able to cull a few times with the School-E rig.”
Ehrler finished day two with 16 pounds 2 ounces and held second place going into the weekend.
Day three was met with more spectators and a co-angler that smashed ‘em from behind Ehrler. “Kevin (Gordon) really got on ‘em good from behind me on day three. We started in the same area as I did on day one and he was throwing a spoon while I was throwing a drop shot. Kevin was smart, the Humminbird electronics are so good and so clear that Kevin could read my graph from the back of the boat. When he would see fish on my graph he would drop down the spoon on the fish while I dropped the drop shot down on them. The spoon drops through the water column much faster than the drop shot and he was cleaning up. I think it was about 8:30 in the morning and he already had 18-pounds in the boat. I told him ‘You know you just won, right?’ He didn’t think so, but 18-pounds from the back of the boat is awesome and I was sure he had won. By 9:30 AM or just a little after I had secured about a 17-pound limit I headed shallow to try and find some bigger fish. I upgraded a pound or so using the Phenix jig under and around docks near theouter points of coves.”
After three days of the event Ehrler still hadn’t touched the spot he found on that third morning of practice. “Saving a spot like that is tough, but four days of fishing takes a lot of spots and a lot of fish. I knew if I could save a spot like that for a final day it could really pay off.”
Day three ended with Ehrler securing 18-pounds and 2-ounces of bass and was just an ounce behind leader Tom Monsoor.
Day four started off pretty sketchy for Ehrler. Followed by numerous spectator boats Ehrler pulled up a little beyond the spot he had been saving for the first three days of the event. “The spectators stopped on his main area, the area he had found on that third day of practice. “Of course, they didn’t know that was the spot I was saving and when I waved them off, they all moved off the spot quickly. There were some anxious moments early on when the weren’t biting like they had the first few days. Running the FLW Tour boat instead of my own boat, I had an electronics change that I had to figure out as well. Once the fish settled down and I got more comfortable with the electronics I caught a limit for about 17-pounds and knew I needed at least one more good bite in order to get the victory.”
Late in the day, Ehrler made a move to another area he had been saving. “In practice, I had found more fish on a drop off only about a mile from my first spot. I made the move and it worked out. I was able to put my biggest fish for the day in the boat with a few hours left to fish. That fish culled me up to the 20-pound range.”
Ehrler finished the final day with 20-pounds 5-ounces and was able to hold off a hard charging youngster, Micah Frazier, to complete the win. “I have two goals for the season. First, win an event and second, make the FLW Cup. I guess now I have to make a new goal, win another event,” Ehrler chuckled.
As for equipment, Ehrler used Lucky Craft Fishing Rodsincluding the Lucky Craft Shakey Head rod for the drop shot rig with 20-pound Sunline FX braided line and a 12-pound Sunline FC Sniper Fluorocarbon line leader. He used a Owner worm bend hook with a shrink tube worm keeper added to it and a Roboworm six-inch straight tail worm in several colors.
For the jig, both skipping the docks and fishing deep, he used a Lucky Craft Pitchin’ rod with a Revo Premier reel lined with 16-pound Sunline FC Sniper Fluorocarbon line.
The School-E Rig was fished on the eight foot Big BaitSpecial Lucky Craft rod rigged with 80-pound Sunline FX braided line. He used a variety of swimbaits on the umbrella rig, predominantly the Yamamoto Swim Tail and Keitech Swing Impact baits, both in the four-inch range.
Ehrler admits that his Humminbird graph was the most important piece of equipment for the week. “Seeing the fish on the graph was an integral part of this win. Watching the fish and dropping the bait on them and then catching most of my best fish was the key to this event. Electronics have come so far, so fast its awesome what you can do with these new Humminbird graphs.”
Following the win Ehrler is excited for the rest of the season. “It’s a relief to get off to such a great start. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to go from here but down, but I hope to keep it going on Table Rock in a few weeks. I really want an Angler of the Year title. I have been so close several times and I need to keep focused and fish hard all year to give myself a chance. If it’s not the toughest title in the sport to win, then it’s certainly one of the toughest. Winning that title is the next step in my career and I hope this can be the year.”
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