Defending his title as co-angler winner in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, was impressive enough, but the way Steven Meador did it was truly remarkable. After earning the 2018 win on Grand by 3 pounds, 6 ounces, the Bentonville, Ark., co-angler repeated the victory with a three-day total of 27-15 for a much slimmer winning margin this time around – just 10 ounces.
In most cases, leaving two of the daily five-fish limit in the lake dooms an angler’s tournament hopes. Doing so twice is all but a guaranteed heartbreak. Fortunately for Meador, a strong opening round buoyed his performance and provided him enough momentum to cross the finish line just ahead of good friend Richard Champagne.
On day one, Meador sacked up a limit catch of 14-1 – the event’s second-heaviest co-angler bag – and found himself in second behind the 16-8 weighed in by Robin Babb, who finished the event in fifth place. The next day, Meador caught three fish for 6 pounds and moved into first as Babb blanked.
In the final round, Meador added another three fish for 7-14 and edged out Champagne, who turned in a strong effort of his own with four fish for 10-8.
“I’m super excited,” Meador says. “That was one of my best friends; It was good either way, but this was special. This event was a grind; it was hard. There was nothing easy about this.
“Today, I lost a really good one when it hung in a bush, and the first day, I lost an absolute whale. You can’t get away with too many of those, so I’m tickled to death with this one.”
With a cold front wreaking havoc on the week’s weather consistency, Meador says his biggest strategy was downsizing his bait selection just to get bites. On day one, he used a Zara Spook Jr. and a small profile spinnerbait, but switched to slowly dragging a finesse jig and finesse worm during the post-frontal onset of day two.
“On day three, I flipped a full-sized black and blue tube,” Meador says. “I knew I had to have them. We were in an area that had fish and the water was really dark. So, instead of throwing a big, heavy weight for fish that were super shallow, I switched to a 1/4-ounce weight and started getting my bites.
“I could hop it in there better and it wasn’t overpowering. I had a clutch flip in the last 10 minutes and boated a 2-pounder. I said, ‘This is going to give me a chance. Somebody is going to have to beat me; they have to take it from me.’”
Top 10 co-anglers
1. Steven Meador, Bentonville, Ark., – 27-15 (11) – $27,100 + $5,000 Ranger Cup
2. Richard Champagne, Bentonville, Ark., – 27-5 (11) – $4,031
3. Alan Quick, Springfield, Mo., – 22-9 (8) – $3,185
4. Calan Cameron, Coppell, Texas –20-8 (8) – $2,787
5. Robin Babb, Tulsa, Okla. –19-13 (7) – $2,439
6. Mason Roach, Conroe, Texas – 19-11 (11) – $1,991
7. Tony Thompson, New Braunfels, Texas –18-11 (9) – $1,593
8. Johnny Burke, Bristow, Okla. – 17-5 (9) – $1,393
9. Travis Pattilllo, Zavalla, Texas –16-9 (5) – $1,322
10. Jayce Garrison, Conroe, Texas – 14-11 (7) – $995