Boater J.R. McCay of Helen, Georgia, caught five bass weighing 15 pounds, 7 ounces, Saturday to win the 2018 T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Savannah River Division opener on Lake Keowee presented by Navionics. For his efforts, McCay took home $4,004.
“I had a couple places where I was catching 10 or 11 pounds consistently during practice, but by 9 a.m. Saturday morning I didn’t have a bite from either,” says McCay, who earned his first career win in FLW competition. “I decided to head into the back of a creek on the north end that had stained water, laydowns, docks and stump flats. I threw a swimbait and only had one fish swirl on it, which told me they weren’t very active.”
McCay began flipping a ½-ounce brown Spotsticker Casting Jig with a green-pumpkin-colored Strike King Rage Tail Craw trailer, and was able to put two 4-pounders and a 3-pounder in the boat. Around 2 p.m., he says that he left the area for a long flat with scattered rock on the main lake.
“I used the Spotsticker and nabbed another 3-pounder,” says McCay. “I caught my last fish on the south end, in 70 feet of water, from a rock pile where fish typically school up. I guess I pulled up to the right place at the right time.”
McCay used a blueback-colored Tim Farley Custom Baits Pro X Swimbait to catch his last keeper.
The top 10 boaters:
1st: J.R. McCay, Helen, Ga., five bass, 15-7, $4,004
2nd: Jayme Rampey, Liberty, S.C., five bass, 13-11, $2,002
3rd: Brian Tidwell, Seneca, S.C., five bass, 13-8, $1,267
4th: Edward Humphreys, Alum Creek, W. Va., five bass, 12-8, $888
5th: Matthew Justice, Fair Play, S.C., five bass, 11-10, $761
6th: Daniel Atkins, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 11-9, $697
7th: Marcus Church, Seneca, S.C., five bass, 11-3, $634
8th: Chris Nelson, Social Circle, Ga., five bass, 11-1, $571
9th: Brian Callahan, Gainesville, Ga., five bass, 11-0, $507
10th: Jerry Morgan, Inman, S.C., five bass, 10-12, $444
Complete results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Joshua Popham of Central, South Carolina, nabbed a bass weighing 4 pounds, 13 ounces – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – and earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $505.
Lesley wins co-angler title
Ryan Lesley of Williamston, South Carolina, won the Co-angler Division and $2,097 Saturday after catching a five-bass limit weighing 11 pounds, 4 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers:
1st: Ryan Lesley, Williamston, S.C., five bass, 11-4, $2,097
2nd: Tim Watson, Martin, Ga., five bass, 11-2, $999
3rd: Westley Denny, Westminster, S.C., five bass, 9-5, $633
4th: Keith Lewis, Franklin, N.C., five bass, 8-12, $443
5th: Kevin Landreth, Seneca, S.C., four bass, 8-8, $379
6th: Chris Nunziato, Elberton, Ga., five bass, 8-7, $348
7th: Vern Schmucker, Westminster, S.C., four bass, 8-4, $316
8th: Michael Senn, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 7-9, $285
9th: Gary Murphy, Homer, Ga., five bass, 7-8, $253
10th: Brandon Graham, Greer, S.C., three bass, 6-10, $221
Thomas Morris of Walhalla, South Carolina, caught the largest bass in the Co-angler Division – a 4-pound, 4-ounce fish. The catch earned him the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $247.
The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the region based on point standings, along with the five winners in each qualifying event, will be entered in the Oct. 18-20 BFL Regional Championship on Lake Norman in Huntersville, North Carolina. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.
The 2018 BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 tournaments throughout the season, five qualifying events in each division. The top 45 boaters and co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six regional tournaments where they are competing to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the BFL All-American. The 2018 BFL All-American will be held May 31-June 2 at Cross Lake in Shreveport, Louisiana, and is hosted by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission. Top performers in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the FLW Tour.