With only 30 minutes left in the four-day Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain, Bryan Schmitt did not have enough weight to win. After leading the tournament for the previous two days, Schmitt had run out of fish.
He pulled up to a navigation buoy just outside the weigh-in area, and, “On my (Garmin) Livescope I could see two fish on that buoy cable,” he said. “I threw that dropshot in there and just held it. I felt the bite. At first I didn’t think it was a bass.”
It was a bass - a 3 ½-pound smallmouth bass that he landed at 2:35. Check-in time was 3 p.m.
“That fish gave me at least 12 ounces (after culling),” Schmitt said. “Without that fish, I don’t win.”
The 40-year-old, Deale, Md., pro won by 8 ounces over Keith Combs in one of the tightest final days in Elite Series history. Schmitt’s winning total was 78-5; Combs had 77-13. The top six anglers were bunched within 2 pounds, 3 ounces in the final standings.
Schmitt’s Sunday five-bass limit weighed 16-1. Only one other angler weighed a lighter bag Sunday. Schmitt needed almost every bit of the 2-pound, 7-ounce lead he began the day with.
“I knew I was out of fish,” he said. “I knew it.”
Ultimately, he had just enough.