National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., caught a five-bass limit weighing 11 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win $127,500 at the FLW Tour’s Chevy Open on Lake Ouachita with a four-day catch of 20 bass weighing 58-1.
The catch gave him the win by a 1-pound, 6-ounce margin over Folgers pro Scott Suggs of Bryant, Ark., who caught a total of 20 bass weighing 56-11 and earned $36,356.
“I didn’t think I had it today,” said Ehrler, who has won more than $1.5 million in FLW Outdoors events. “I really had a tough time. The water really dropped today and my hat’s off to the top five.
“I’m just so fortunate to be up here,” Ehrler added. “I’m shocked. I don’t know what to say.”
Ehrler said he began the tournament throwing topwater baits in the hopes of catching big fish early and then slowed down and used a shaky-head rig or a Senko to catch lethargic bass. He said he was using a Lucky Craft Gunfish 115 for his topwater fish.
“The second day I didn’t get any bites on topwater,” Ehrler said. “I started struggling on the outside stuff. I was fishing main lake. Finally, later in the day, I went up shallow and started looking around and started seeing a few fish and I caught one. Then I caught another one. I had a decent limit.”
Ehrler said his topwater bite held up on the third day of competition.
“They kept biting it and biting it and I made up my mind right then and there that’s all I was going to do the rest of the tournament was throw topwater,” Ehrler said. “All my big fish on the first day came on that.”
Ehrler said the other bait he relied on during the tournament was a Brian’s Bee Prop Bait. He said he threw the prop bait in the backs of pockets where bluegill were spawning. He said the prop bait was effective in calm water, but when the wind picked up or he wanted to cover water he switched back to the Gunfish.
Ehrler opened the tournament in 13th place Wednesday with five bass weighing 14-0. On Thursday he added another five bass weighing 13-11. He then caught five bass weighing 18-11 on Friday to make the crucial top-5 cut in first place. On Saturday he sealed his victory.
“I thought I needed the one big bite (to win),” Ehrler said. “I never had a good bite today — you know a 3- to 6-pound bite. I thought if I got one I could win the tournament, but I didn’t. I really didn’t think that I had a shot.”
Suggs said he approached the Chevy Open the same way he did when he won the Forrest Wood Cup in 2007.
“I ran out a lot of brim beds — the ones I knew people couldn’t find,” said Suggs. “A lot of the lake didn’t have grass in it, and I went and put green brush piles in it. I put them a lot shallower than people would normally put them and normally more (shallow) than I would put them.
“That’s what I got to running,” the hometown favorite added. “That’s how I caught my big bags this week.”
Suggs said he caught his limits early in 40 to 70 feet deep over timber on a Berkley Hollow Belly Swim Bait.
The remaining top-5 pros finished the tournament in:
3rd: Castrol pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 20 bass, 56-2, $27,223
4th: Keith Monson, Burgin, Ky., 20 bass, 51-14, $18,090
5th: Ishama Monroe, Hughson, Calif., 20 bass, 51-6, $16,263
A complete list of results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.
Overall there were 25 bass weighing 51 pounds, 13 ounces caught by pros Saturday. The catch included five five-bass limits.
David Tierney of Fayetteville, Ark., won the Co-angler Division and $25,000 Friday with a three-day total of 10 bass weighing 31 pounds, 1 ounce followed by Brad Roberts of Nancy, Ky., in second place with 13 bass weighing 25-12 worth $9,098.
National Guard Pro Ehrler and Brad Roberts of Nancy, Ky., each won a $2,500 gift card as part of the new Cabela’s Angler Cash program. In 2010, Cabela’s is offering pro and co-anglers the opportunity to register and win a $2,500 gift card for being the highest qualified finisher in each division at all FLW Tour events, making the stakes even higher in an already rich payout.
In FLW Tour competition, anglers and co-anglers are also vying for valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup, where they could win up to $600,000 and $60,000 respectively.
The Lake Ouachita Chevy Open, hosted by Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, was the fourth of five FLW Tour tournaments that will be held in 2010. The next event will be June 23-26 on Lake Guntersville in Huntsville, Ala. The event will be hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau and boats will launch from Lake Guntersville Resort State Park in Guntersville, Ala.
The remaining tournaments are scheduled for:
2010 Forrest Wood Cup
Aug. 5-8 Lake Lanier Atlanta, Ga.
Coverage of the Lake Ouachita Chevy Open will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. “FLW Outdoors,” will air June 27 from 12:30 to 1:30 ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide.
ABOUT FLW OUTDOORS
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world offering anglers worldwide the opportunity to compete for millions over the course of 189 tournaments in 2010. FLW Outdoors has also taken fishing mainstream with FLW Fantasy Fishing awarding the largest prizes in the history of fantasy sports. FLW Outdoors memberships are available featuring numerous benefits including Player’s Advantage. For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing, visit FantasyFishing.com.