GROVE, Okla. – With three FLW titles already under his belt, Keith Honeycutt of Temple, Texas, was hoping to add a fourth. And today, he got his wish. Buoyed by a three-day catch of 45 pounds, 13 ounces, Honeycutt finished today’s weigh-in in exactly the same place he found himself after days one and two, in first place overall.
“It really feels good,” said Honeycutt of his victory. “I’ve won some EverStart Series titles before, including the 2007 EverStart Series Championship, but to get my first (FLW) Tour win is really special because there is a whole different caliber of anglers here.”
Honeycutt dominated the competition over the first two days and today wasn’t much different as in the end, the Texas native took home the title by and almost 4 1/2-pound margin.
“I really haven’t fished that well this year up until this point,” he said. “But I really got them today. I caught three fish flipping early and then I went shallow cranking and culled two or three more times. Once I caught that 5 1/2-pounder around noon, I started to feel pretty confident. Then when I was able to cull those two fish later in the day, I had a feeling that I had a good chance.”
Honeycutt said that he fished a Lucky Craft 1.5 crankbait and a Zoom Brush Hog to land the majority of his catch. But he said that he credited his pros with a good portion of his success as well.
“I had three great pros,” he said. “I had Brandon Coulter on day one, David Fritts on day two and Jason Christie today. Jason Christie is not only a great fisherman but he’s a great person. And I really feel like I made a friend today.”
According to Honeycutt, at around 1 p.m., with only three fish in the boat, Christie made a quick excursion in an effort to help the Texan fill out his limit.
“Around that time I let out a sigh and Jason heard me. He looked at me and told me he has some good crankbait fish. I smiled and told him I’d love to (go after) some crankbait fish,” Honeycutt recalls. “So we left and he took me to a spot and I caught my limit. I can’t say enough about Jason Christie.”
Overall, Honeycutt said today was just as memorable as his EverStart Series Championship victory or any other of his 12 top-10 finishes.
“Today was just a great day,” he said. `It’s a sweet victory.”
Leaderboard remains unchanged
By the time final weigh-in had concluded, each of the top-five co-anglers atop the standings finished in exactly the same position as where they’d started the day. And as a result, Anthony Goggins of Auburn, Ala., took home a runner-up finish with a total catch of 41 pounds, 6 ounces.
“I finished second on Smith Lake and finished second here. I’ve been close so many times before but just couldn’t seal the deal.” said Goggins. “But I had a blast and a really good tournament. It’s the first time I’ve ever been to this lake and I really fished hard here. This is my rookie season on the Tour and I’m very surprised I’m doing as well as I’m doing.”
Simply put, Goggins said that the main reason for not wining the title was the fact that he just didn’t get the big bites when it counted most.
“I got some really good big bites the last two days but not today,” he said. “I got less bites in general and I think that had a lot to do with the fishing pressure. I also lost some big fish over the first two days, otherwise I could have blown this tournament out of the water – but that’s fishing.”
Goggins said that he targeted bass using a combination of Zoom Brush Hogs and Cold Steel Walking sticks.
“I was targeting bass around logs and in the meat of bushes – the thicker the better,” he said.
Overall, Goggins said he had few regrets.
“It’s been a fun week,” he said. “I really love this place.”
For his efforts, Goggins took home a check for $7,343.
Meador nets third
Steven Meador of Bella Vista, Ark., finished the Grand Lake event with a top-three performance after recording a three-day catch of 40 pounds, 2 ounces.
“Today was tough,” he said. “It was more like my first day. I had to switch up presentations and had to really grind it out all day. I just didn’t catch them like yesterday.”
Meador said that he targeted bass by “flipping all day long” using Zoom Brush Hogs, Reaction Innovations Sweet Beavers and Senkos as an enticement.
“All of the fish I caught came flipping bushes, trees and willows,” he said. “I was mostly fishing pretty shallow. I think the deepest I fished was 3 feet.”
Meador, who netted nearly $5,000 in winnings, said that he really enjoyed his week on Grand Lake.
“I had a really good tournament,” he said. “I did better than I expected to do. It definitely beats working.”
Sprague stays in fourth
On the basis of a three-day catch weighing 39 pounds, 15 ounces, Jeff Sprague of Point, Texas, took home fourth place overall.
“Today was a lot tougher for me,” he said. “I fished the same areas that I fished yesterday where I caught 16 pounds. But today I only caught five fish. I think the fish were pretty beaten up by today.”
In an effort to turn things around, Sprague decided to change things up on the fly in today’s competition by downsizing.
“Yesterday I fished a full-sized Zoom Brush Hog,” said Sprague. “But today I decided to downsize. I wound up fishing a (Reactions Innovations) Sweet Beaver and a spinnerbait. I caught some fish but I just couldn’t get that really big bite. In general, it was a lot tougher out there today.”
In the end, Sprague said he was happy the Tour finally came to Grand Lake.
“I know the potential of this lake. It’s a great lake and there are a lot of fish here,” he said. “And any time you make a top-10, it’s a great feeling. Overall it was a good tournament for me.”
Sprague ultimately took home more than $3,900 for his finish.
Hensley reels in top-five finish
Like Sprague, Nick Hensley of Cumming, Ga., just couldn’t get enough big bites in today’s competition to make a run at the title.
“It was a great day. I caught a ton of fish, but just not a big one.”
Hensley, who ultimately recorded a total catch of 39 pounds, said he targeted bass on shallow bushes and rocky points using a combination of ChatterBaits, topwaters and square-billed crankbaits.
But in the end, as he reflected on the past week, he said he wouldn’t change a whole lot.
“After the Lake Eufaula tournament I was kind of down,” he said. “So coming in here I didn’t really have anything to lose. So it was great to make it into the top 20. I really had a good time.”
For his efforts, Hensley walked away with nearly $3,000 in winnings.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 co-angler finishers:
6th: Mark Horton, Nicholasville, Ky., 15 bass, 38-13, $2,443
7th: Braxton Setzer, Auburn, Ala., 15 bass, 36-10, $1,953
8th: Troy Hollowell, New Concord, Ky., 15 bass, 36-8, $1,757
9th: Josh Gaffney, Crab Orchard, Ky., 15 bass, 36-4, $1,659
10th: Jason Theis, Larned, Kan., 15 bass, 36-2, $1,561
For a complete list of co-angler results, click here.
FLW Tour action in the Pro Division continues with Sunday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. at Wolf Creek Park, located at 963 North 16th St. in Grove, Okla.