CLEWISTON, Fla. – Florida’s Raymond Trudeau proved to be one of the wolves Alabama’s George Crain fretted about this morning when the leader said he felt like a pack of wolves was closing in on him. Trudeau nipped Crain to win the Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Southern Divisional at Lake Okeechobee by only 6 ounces. Click to view the final standings.
Trudeau’s 21-pound, 10-ounce limit today overtook Crain’s lead and gave him the individual title.
“I was struggling in practice,” said Trudeau. “The water was real dirty where I wanted to fish, and I kept forcing it and checking on it, but all I could catch was an occasional 3-pound fish. My team helped me out the first day by putting me on flipping fish, which I really needed to have, and I stuck with it.”
The second day the wind let up, and Trudeau knew then he could go topwater fishing.
"I knew the water was going to clear up so I went up to a few spots,' he said. "Today there was a guide on one of them, and the other area was blown out because of the south wind. So I concentrated on one area.
“My nerves were shot this morning. I missed a huge fish early and then kept pulling my bait away from fish, and it just really messed me up. My partner (Sidney Weaver of South Carolina) kept telling me to calm down and relax. By 11 o'clock, I finally started getting my nerves going a little better and managed to get one more good fish and then lost another big one.”
The largest fish he caught weighed 8-9 and was the big bass of the day.
The 47-year-old prototype developer for Tupperware caught his larger topwater fish on a firetiger Zara Spook and Lucky Craft Splash Tail in a shad pattern. His other keepers fell for a 1/4-ounce Gambler Ninja spinnerbait with a watermelon skirt.
By winning the divisional and finishing as the top angler on his state team, Trudeau also qualified for the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship (FNC) to be held on Wheeler Lake in Alabama, Oct. 25-27. Other state winners qualifying for the FNC are Jeremy Pridgen of Georgia; Tim Hennemann, Kentucky; Brent Boyette, North Carolina; Edward Cox, South Carolina; Mark Pierce, Tennessee; and Crain, who led the first two days.
Georgia won the team championship with 502 pounds, 8 ounces, while Florida finished second with 496-14.
The divisional was hosted by Roland and Mary Ann Martin's Marina and Resort.