HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – While there was little to no drama on who would win on the boater side of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine All-American on Lake Hamilton, the tension was palpable on the Strike King co-angler side.
Separated by just 10 ounces, Clint Horton out of Mississippi was able to beat second-place co-angler Cory Guinn with a three-day total of 15 bass for 21 pounds, 15 ounces. Horton walks away with a check worth $50,000 and memories that will last him a lifetime.
“This is unbelievable,” Horton said while holding his new trophy. “I would have never expected this in a million years. I’ve been fishing tournaments for 10-plus years and to win one of this size and importance is amazing.”
Horton came into the final day of the All-American in second place with 14-15 — only 2-8 behind leader Guinn. Once Horton found out he was paired with second-place boater Hunter Eubanks, the two began to talk about strategy for Saturday. Lucky for Horton, Eubanks was more than willing to do what Horton felt comfortable with.
“I got lucky and drew a great boater today who let me fish how I wanted to,” Horton said. “I made some lucky skips under docks and caught fish. I flipped up by a laydown and caught a 2 1/2-pounder. Hunter could have caught that one but somehow I did and that fish was probably the difference for me today.”
Horton qualified for the All-American by way of the Mississippi Division and finished in fourth place in his regional last October. While he didn’t come away with a win in that event, Horton says he learned some valuable lessons that he applied to the All-American. The lessons he learned transferred to the All-American because he fished that regional on Lake Ouachita, an impoundment of the Ouachita River, just like Lake Hamilton.
“I found out in that event that I could catch them on a Carolina rig with a Zoom Finesse Worm,” Horton said of his fourth-place finish on Ouachita. “I implemented that here on Lake Hamilton this week and it worked out for me. If they didn’t bite that Carolina rig, then I wacky-rigged it, Texas-rigged it and whatever else you can do to fish a finesse worm, I did.”
Horton will now return home to Mississippi to celebrate with his friends and family. He’ll go back to work as a supervisor for a construction company, a job he enjoys. Horton doesn’t fish BFL events for a chance at turning pro or gaining big sponsorships. He fishes for the love of the sport and the enjoyment it brings him personally. To make it his livelihood is not in the cards.
“Fishing is just fun to me,” Horton said. “I don’t want to turn it into a job. I feel like I wouldn’t love it like I love it now. I’m happy with what I’m doing now and I’m happy that an event like the All-American exists so I can fish it.”
1. Clint Horton – 21 – 15 (15) – $50,000
2. Cory Guinn – 21 – 5 (12) – $10,300
3. Evan Eldred – 18 – 10 (13) – $6,250
4. Jeffery Johnson – 18 – 02 (14) – $5,000
5. Zachary Verbrugge – 17 – 04 (13) – $4,500
6. Alan Hill – 16 – 14 (11) – $4,000
7. Hunter Dahnke – 16 – 12 (13) – $3,500
8. Steven Obester – 16 – 2 (10) – $3,000
9. Brendan Vinton – 16 – 00 (10) – $2,500
10. Eric Eden – 14 – 14 (11) – $2,000