Forgetting the past can be a hard thing for a bass fisherman to do. But for Jeremy Jawyer, it proved to be the right decision.
When Lawyer left the dock this morning for the final day of the Costa FLW Series event on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude, he was in fourth place and just 2 pounds, 8 ounces off the lead. Being that the top-10 weights were so close, the general consensus was that whoever caught the biggest limit on the final day would likely be crowned champion.
Lawyer hauled in a rare limit on Saturday worth 13-12 – also the heaviest of the day – and it proved to be more than enough to earn him his first FLW Series win with a total of 46-3 and $88,500 in winnings.
Fishing off instinct instead of history was the biggest key for the Sarcoxie, Mo., pro this week, and really for the entire season.
“Earlier in the year before the first Central Division event on Table Rock I erased all my waypoints there and had a good finish,” Lawyer says. “I just got a new Ranger before coming [to Lake of the Ozarks] and I didn’t transfer any of my waypoints over. You can get in trouble sometimes when you try to fish history and I just wanted to go fish what looks good and what’s right for the conditions.
“I’ve fished a lot of tournaments up here and have a lot of history and you can get stuck in a comfort zone, so I figured without my waypoints I wouldn’t have the pressure to try and fish that stuff. Sure, you remember good stretches of bank, but I wanted to be able to fish free. Really, fishing the (FLW) Tour has helped build my confidence to just fish because most of the lakes we go to I don’t have any history on.”
It all started this week when Lawyer ran to a stretch he hadn’t practiced on in the Gravois Arm and started catching fish flipping a prototype JaKKed shaky head (it will be his signature series jig) with a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm. He would then go on to cull up to 14-7 thanks to a River2Sea Whopper Plopper.
On day two, he stayed between the toll bridge and the Gravois Arm focusing on wind-blown points and the first few docks inside a pocket, close to the main lake. A Freedom Tackle Swing Buzz buzzbait and Whopper Plopper did most of the work in the rainy, cold conditions to sack up 18 pounds.
On the final day, he stayed to the same general area, running new water and kept the Whopper Plopper and shaky head in his hand all day.
“This morning I went to the same stuff I had been fishing,” Lawyer explains. “Everyday I’m on the water I change my trail color on my GPS. So, today I just went to pockets that looked good and I haven’t been in yet.
“It’s been so hot this year and the fish are behind, so I wanted to be closer to main lake where those fish live all summer. The points leading into the pockets were good and if there were scattered docks I’d hit them, like one, two or three spaced out. If there were 10 or 12 docks in a row, I’d pass on them because it takes so long to fish them.”
Getting off to a quick start today helped keep him calm and in the right state of mind.
“I caught my limit pretty quick right out of the gate, plus got a 4 ½-pounder, so that calms you down” he says. “Things were clicking and I got in a grove. I ended up I pulled the plug around 10:30 and went to the Hurricane Deck area and ended up culling up three more times.”
Surprisingly, he caught he biggest fish on the final day off the JaKKed shaky head with the Magnum Trick Worm – not the Plopper.
“A topwater and that shaky head is just a good one-two punch,” Lawyer adds. “The buzzbait and shaky head could get numbers of fish and when I was in an area I felt I could get a big bite, I’d throw the Plopper. The shaky head just catches fish no matter what.”
While he didn’t get many bites on the Whopper Plopper, Lawyer notes that his go-to was custom painted by Fall Creek Lures. Midnight shad is the color and he says it’s one he has a ton of confidence in.
Winning the 2016 T-H Marine Bass Fishing League All-American was certainly the highlight of Lawyer’s career thus far. However, with limits tough to find on the final day on Lake of the Ozarks – despite the talent that lurked in the top 10 – Lawyer knows that winning against this crowd isn’t something to take lightly.
“I still can’t believe it happened for me today,” says Lawyer. “I grew up watching Stacey (King) fishing on television and he has been the man here for many years. Dennis Berhorst wins everything. I told my wife back when I started that if I could compete with Dennis, Roger (Fitzpatrick) and Marcus Sykora that I could survive anywhere. And that was back in 2005. I have so much respect for all of those guys. It feels good to be on top this week, but next week I’m sure one of those guys will be on top again.”
Top 10 pros:
1. Jeremy Lawyer – Sarcoxie, Mo. – 46-3 (15) – $88,500
2. Garrett Paquette – Canton, Mich. – 43-6 (14) – $16,500
3. Dennis Berhorst – Holts Summit, Mo. – 43-5 (15) – $12,700
4. Stacey King – Reeds Spring, Mo. – 43-3 (13) – $10,800
5. Austin Brown – Benton, Ky. – 40-14 (12) – $9,600
6. Jason Vance – Battle Ground, Ind. – 40-11 (15) – $8,250
7. Arnold Payne Jr. – Kokomo, Ind. – 39-11 (14) – $7,200
8. James Watson – Lampe, Mo. – 39-8 (14) – $6,200
9. Shawn Kowal – Linn Creek, Mo. – 39-7 (14) – $5,200
10. David Ryan – Levasy, Mo. – 36-13 (11) – $4,100