Hunter Fillmore opened the Costa FLW Series tournament on Lake Barkley which was presented by T-H Marine with a dismal day one performance: two fish for 4 pounds, 4 ounces, and 66th place.
Still, he’d enjoyed the day, figured he would fish the next day then head home to Waynesboro, Ohio. Making the top 10 cut and advancing to Saturday’s finals didn’t seem likely.
“No, after Thursday (day one) I didn’t see making it to the third day,” says Fillmore, a 17-year-old who will be entering his junior year of high school this fall.
Unexpected things happen when fishing. He did make it to the finals, thanks in part to sharing a boat with pro Adam Craig on Friday, a pairing that resulted in 19-7 limit for Fillmore.
He then won the co-angler crown by using a drop-shot rig to collect a 13-13 bag on Saturday. His winning total was 37-8, and he'll take home a check for $850 along with a new Ranger Z175 armed with a 90-horsepower Evinrude outboard
“I fished with Craig Friday,” says Fillmore. “He’s probably the nicest guy I’ve ever fished with. But I’ve had great pros every day.”
“I was proud to see him win it,” says Craig, who finished ninth on the pro side with a three-day total of 44-6.
Fillmore plans to get his new Ranger in the water as soon as possible. He also hopes to use his newfound fame to attract some college interest.
“I’ve talked to Bethel University a little bit,” he says, referring to the McKenzie, Tenn., university and home of the Bethel Bass Cats fishing team. “I’m going to talk to them more now.”