Pro Bryan Schmitt of Deale, MD, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 10 ounces Sunday to win the FLW Tour at the Mississippi River in La Crosse presented by Evinrude.
Schmitt’s four-day total of 20 bass weighing 61 pounds, 6 ounces, was enough to edge second-place pro Joshua Weaver of Macon, GA, and win the top prize of $125,000 in the four-day event that featured 160 of the world’s best bass anglers competing in La Crosse.
Already a well-known river expert, Schmitt built his career by picking apart the Potomac and James rivers. Schmitt was able to apply that expertise to Pools 7, 8 and 9 on the Mississippi River this week and earn his first career win on the FLW Tour.
“My knowledge of the rivers I fish back home was 100-percent key for me this week,” said Schmitt, a five-year Tour veteran who has amassed more than $680,000 in FLW competition. “I’ve never been here, but I fell in love with how it was setting up.”
Schmitt said his sweet spot this week was a barricaded pond on the lower end of Pool No. 8. He described it as a section of water near the main-river channel that was surrounded by sandbars which protected fish in multiple phases of the spawn.
“I don’t know if it was there from years and years of current building up the sandbars, but at some point local authorities may have added riprap to make it stay,” said Schmitt. “It had two main trenches that ran through it and had plenty of deep water. At the very top there was a hole in the rock jetty that let current flow in. It had all the right variables – just enough current to bring food in, grass and spawning habitat, and the deep water for when they were done.”
Schmitt said he spent the majority of his tournament in the area, noting that all but three of the fish he weighed in came from it.
“I think the fish that I was catching were both prespawn and postspawn,” Schmitt said. “Fresh fish were moving in and the big ones that were done were moving out.”
Schmitt said that his primary lure this week was a black and blue-colored prototype Riot Baits Swim Jig with a swimming trailer. He also used a black and blue-skirted vibrating jig with a Riot T3 Tattle Tail Swimbait and a 5-inch Texas-rigged Riot Stick stickbait with a 1/2-ounce tungsten weight.
“Before my main pattern evolved, I caught quite a few by just pitching the stickbait to grass,” said Schmitt. “It got me a lot of key fish on the first two days, but the bigger ones wanted the moving baits.”
The final event on the FLW Tour schedule for the 2017 regular-season happens to be on the Potomac River – a place where Schmitt has three Costa FLW Series wins. Schmitt expressed that he is eager to finish the season on a high note.
“I’ve got the momentum now,” said Schmitt. “After all of this, words can’t describe how excited I am to get back out there and compete on the Potomac.”
TOP 10 PROS
1. Bryan Schmitt, Deale, MD, 20 bass, 61-6, $125,000.
2. Joshua Weaver, Macon, GA, 20 bass, 58-11, $30,700.
3. Andy Morgan, Dayton, TN, 20 bass, 58-10, $25,100.
4. Todd Auten, Lake Wylie, SC, 20 bass, 58-0, $20,000.
5. Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, AK, 20 bass, 57-9, $19,000.
6. Wesley Strader, Spring City, TN, 20 bass, 56-14, $18,000.
7. Austin Felix, Eden Prairie, MN, 20 bass, 56-8, $17,000.
8. Matt Stefan, Junction City, WI, 20 bass, 55-10, $16,000.
9. David Dudley, Lynchburg, VA, 20 bass, 54-10, $15,000.
10. Justin Atkins, Florence, AL, 20 bass, 53-3, $14,000.
For a full list of results visit FLWFishing.com.