Brian Choate of Burns, Tennessee, brought five bass to the scale Saturday weighing 18 pounds, 3 ounces, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Music City Division opener on Percy Priest Lake presented by Navionics. Choate earned $3,156 for his efforts.
Choate says he fished mid-lake, wind-blown gravel rock points in 3 to 4 feet of water, specifically around the Four Corners Marina, Elm Hill Recreation Area and Long Hunter State Park. He caught five keepers – four largemouth and one smallmouth.
“I wasn’t catching a lot of fish, but they were the right ones. I probably hit 25 to 30 areas – just chasing the wind,” says Choate, who earned his first win in FLW competition. “I’m glad it was windy out there. When it picked up in practice, I was really catching them. I practiced all winter for almost two months and figured if I could get five bites, I’d have a good chance to win.”
Choate used a ¾-ounce chartreuse and white-colored Hoppy Tandem Emerald spinnerbait with a 4-inch white/shad-colored Todd Ruth Ultimate Swimbait trailer, as well as a scarlet-colored Duo Realis M62 5A crankbait for his lone smallmouth. His pulled in his fish with a 7-foot, 3-inch Duckett White Ice II Series rod and a Lew’s Team Pro reel.
“I was slow rolling [the spinnerbait], letting it bounce on the rocks or stumps – whatever I was fishing,” says Choate. “I threw the ¾-ounce was because of the wind. I was fishing shallow, but I needed to keep it down.”
Choate finished by extending a “thank you” to C&O Marine in White Bluff, Tennessee, for letting him borrow a boat to use while his new Nitro Z21 was being rigged up and readied for competition.
The top 10 boaters:
1st: Brian Choate, Burns, Tenn., five bass, 18-3, $3,156
2nd: John Hopkins, Smyrna, Tenn., five bass, 17-1, $1,515
2nd: Mickey Beck, Lebanon, Tenn., five bass, 17-1, $1,315
4th: William Merrick, Mount Juliet, Tenn., five bass, 16-6, $736
5th: Billy Hinson, Mount Juliet, Tenn., five bass, 16-4, $631
6th: Josh Tramel, Smithville, Tenn., five bass, 15-2, $929
7th: Casey Taylor, Smithville, Tenn., five bass, 13-4, $526
8th: Brian Carper, Murfreesboro, Tenn., five bass, 12-6, $473
9th: Barry Whitaker, Hartsville, Tenn., five bass, 12-5, $421
10th: Chris Holland, Winchester, Tenn., four bass, 11-11, $349
10th: Daniel Johnson, Lebanon, Tenn., five bass, 11-11, $349
Complete results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Tony Eckler of Lebanon, Tennessee, caught a 6-pound, 3-ounce bass – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – and earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $370.
Hawkes wins co-angler title
Theron Hawkes of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, won the Co-angler Division and $1,578 Saturday after catching four bass weighing 13 pounds, 8 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers:
1st: Theron Hawkes, Murfreesboro, Tenn., four bass, 13-8, $1,578
2nd: Robert Henze, La Vergne, Tenn., four bass, 12-13, $789
3rd: Grayson Butler, Lebanon, Tenn., two bass, 11-11, $526
4th: Ben Gibbs, Murfreesboro, Tenn., two bass, 11-6, $553
5th: Spencer Clark, Maryland Heights, Mo., three bass, 10-15, $316
6th: Mike Barton, Gallatin, Tenn., two bass, 6-10, $289
7th: Rene Gonzalez, Smyrna, Tenn., two bass, 6-7, $263
8th: Clarence Raney, Murfreesboro, Tenn., three bass, 6-2, $237
9th: Benjiman Smith, Sparta, Tenn., two bass, 6-0, $360
10th: Randall Wiggins, Birmingham, Ala., two bass, 5-13, $384
Gibbs caught the largest bass in the Co-angler Division, a fish weighing in at 6 pounds, 3 ounces. The catch earned him the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $185.
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. 10-12 BFL Regional Championship on Lake Hartwell in Seneca, South Carolina, presented by Navionics. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518L with a 200-horsepower outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518L with a 200-horsepower outboard.
The 2019 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 2019 BFL All-American will be held May 30-June 1 at the Potomac River in Marbury, Maryland, and is hosted by the Charles County Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism and the Commissioners of Charles County. Top performers in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the FLW Tour.