"I don't want to slow down," said Thrift, who is the reigning Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year and has posted seven top-10 finishes and two wins in the last eight events dating back to the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup."I want to catch them everywhere I go. That's my goal," he added. "After yesterday when I caught a big bag I thought I might have a chance [to win]," Thrift added. "As slow as it started today I thought it was over. I didn't think there was any way I was going to catch a big bag. And lo and behold I pulled into Prairie Creek landing 10 minutes before weigh-in and threw my jerkbait beside a cedar tree. It's sinking down through there and my line jumps and I catch a 3 1/2 or 4-pounder five minutes before weigh-in. So that's definitely what did it for me. I culled a 12-inch [spotted bass] with it."
That 12-inch fish was the only cull of the day for Thrift on Sunday, as he caught only six keepers on the last day of competition.
Thrift said he began the tournament catching fish on a translucent jerkbait with a blue back around timber on points and was having some success, but was tipped off by fellow North Carolina competitor Matt Arey that the fish seemed to prefer a fast retrieve, which bucks the notion that jerkbaits should be slowed down in colder water temperatures.
"I took it down the lake the third day to where I'd been catching them," Thrift said. "I was in four feet of water jerking the jerkbait just as hard as I could jerk it and they were knocking the paint off of it. It was ridiculous. But today with the sun and no wind I had to slow down a lot. I caught one big one shallow first thing on that jerkbait jerking it real fast and all the rest of them I caught on cedar trees."
Thrift said he changed the stock jerkbait hooks to larger hooks that would make the bait sink slowly. He said he would twitch the bait up to a tree and then dead-stick it and let the bait fall by the tree for 20 to 30 seconds (15 to 20 feet) before the strike would come. Thrift said this method produced eight bass from one cedar tree.
Thrift's winning setup consisted of a 6-foot, 6-inch Damiki Dark Angel medium-heavy rod, a rod Thrift called "hands-down the best jerkbait rod" he's ever thrown. Thrift relied on an Abu Garcia Revo reel and 10-pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon to finish out his rig. He said he also caught two of his weigh fish during the tournament on a bluegill-colored Damiki DC-200 crankbait. He gained the win by a 2-pound, 2-ounce margin over Stacey King of Reeds Spring, MO, who caught a total of 19 bass weighing 52-6, posted his highest finish in an FLW Tour event, and earned $35,000.
The Walmart FLW Tour on Beaver Lake presented by Straight Talk was hosted by the Rogers Convention and Visitors Bureau, and was the second of 10 Walmart FLW Tour tournaments of the 2011 season. The Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Hartwell presented by Chevy will be the next tournament and will be held March 24-27, 2011, in Greenville, SC. The event will be hosted by the Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Anderson Convention and Visitors Bureau. Boats will launch from Portman Shoals Marina in Anderson, SC.
Coverage of the Beaver Lake tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. "FLW Outdoors" will air April 10 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET.
For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow FLW Outdoors on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWOutdoors.