Elite Analysis – Day 4 Lake Murray

See Pete Robbins’ analysis of the Final Day at the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at Lake Murray.

“He can take his’n and beat your’n and take your’n and beat his’n” – that’s a quote that has been attributed to various football coaches, referring to other coaches, possibly Alabama’s Bear Bryant.

This week it could have been aimed squarely at the growing legacy of mustachioed Gamecock Patrick Walters.

For four days, it seemed like Walters could have traded waypoints, boats, and tackle selections with anyone in the field and still produced a minimum of 19 pounds. With his own stuff, he was just that much better, sandbagging and soft-selling his way to 93 pounds 15 ounces and a margin of victory of 12-11.

“It’s not like Patrick is doing something different,” Mark Zona said this morning on Live. Indeed, recent Elite winner Cody Huff (2nd, 81-4) did damage with some of the same soon-to-market lures, and Walters may have burned less gas over four days than most of his colleagues did in two. He kept it close and just executed better than anyone had a right to.

When you’re not yet 30 years old, and a wire-to-wire win against the best in the world, with a nearly teen-class margin, is not your signature victory to date, then you’re building a very special career.

We saw a valiant effort by rookies JT Thompkins (3rd, 77-13), Trey McKinney (6th, 76-9) and John Garrett (8th, 71-5), but with no disrespect intended those guys are effectively Patrick Walters 2.0. In the dog years that stratify fishing classes, the South Carolinian champ was a generation earlier than those three. It was his win at Lake Fork in 2020 that demonstrated to the masses how powerful “scoping” could be. To the extent that this victory has historical or personal significance, perhaps it’s the fact that he did it largely without needing that technology. He’s won big on largemouths, he’s won big on smallmouths, and he continues to defy expectations. Today it felt like he could’ve packed nothing but a paper sack full of treble-hooked wet cigarette butts and the oversized wolfpacks would’ve been fighting over them just the same.

Once again, the victory is the main event, and I’ll leave the details of that to the Bassmaster.com gamer. Instead, I’ll nibble around the edges with factoids and thoughts that struck my fancy over the course of Championship Monday.

Just another monster Monday – Walters weighed in the biggest bag of the tournament today to seal the deal. Indeed, his first and fourth day limits were the two biggest of the event, somewhat blunting the impact of Cody Huff’s otherwise extraordinary 25-3 today. Three other members of the top ten topped 19 pounds today, one had 18+, and another had 17+. You could say that the fact that it’s a Monday helped, but it sounds like there was still plenty of fishing and pleasure boating pressure, plus the fact that these fish continue to get beat on. Give these guys credit where credit is due for making things look so easy and for consistently producing weights greater than those we expected.

Loughran comes alive – Through four seasons on the Elite Series, Ed Loughran (7th, 72-9) had three top ten finishes, all in his rookie season of 2020. This year, through five events he’s added two more, and has four tournaments left to match or exceed his personal best of three in a season. He also has a chance to beat his best individual finish of 6th, which he achieved twice in 2020.

Twenty-pound bags – Patrick Walters came within 3 ounces of going wire-to-wire on 20 pound limits – his 19-13 “stumble” on Day Two precluded him from doing so. Huff also had three bags of over 20 pounds, and Trey McKinney had two. Four anglers who made the top ten never topped 20 on a single competition day this week, with Jay Prezekurat (5th, 76-10) being the top finisher among them. He had three days where he came within 5 ounces of the 20 pound mark, but never hit it.

Huff’s inconsistency – As noted above, Cody Huff weighed in over 20 pounds three of the four days but his chances of winning were severely hampered if not obliterated by a 13-13 limit on Day Two. On the other three days, he averaged just about 22-8. Even if he’d had that on Day Two, he still would have fallen short of the win by 4 pounds. Huff’s four-day weight would have been good for 8th place last year. He was the only angler besides Walters to top 80 pounds.

Huff’s consistency – In three weeks, it’ll be a full year (a total of 10 checks) since Cody Huff has missed a third day cut. He’s made three top tens since then – 3rd at Champlain, third at the Grand Lake Classic, and 2nd this week on Murray. That ties his best Elite Series finish to date – from Pickwick in 2022, when he had just 15 ounces less than he produced this week.

Tommy Sanders pattern – “Just drive around the lake until you see a place that looks like Beverly Hills and just set up and start fishing.”

Sanders upon watching Walters catch a big fish – “It’s like watching Bill Gates find a hundred dollar bill on the street.”

Zona on Ed Loughran – “For an attorney, he’s a man of few words.” He’s also a man of few rods – while others piled a dozen or more on the front decks of their boats, at times he had as few as two visible.

Livesay surging – Lee Livesay started his Bassmaster career with a bang, and has hardly let off the gas, qualifying for the past three Classics, but his fourth place finish marks his best finish since he won at Ross Barnett and Lake Fork in 2022. Last year he never cracked a top ten, but he got things back on track with a 5th place finish in this year’s Classic on Grand Lake.

Cody Huff, upon landing a 7-6, the big fish of the tournament – “Those are comeback bass right there, baby.”

Jay Przekurat ignored the buffet – “I wasn’t really doing the herring deal this week to be completely honest with you.”

The loves of Lee Livesay – “It’s just like Lake Fork – it just has herring instead of gizzards.”

Lee Livesay laments – “I hate losing to Patrick Walters so much. He and I have been going at it since our rookie year.” Notably, Livesay was 2nd in the ROY race in 2019 and Walters was 3rd. Drew Cook beat them both.

The names haven’t changed – Welcome back, Sooch.

Bait that will be in high demand – Rapala Jowler