After a first day that would have put most bass anglers down for the count, 27-year-old Trevor Fitzgerald stuck with his plan.
The result was a stellar performance on Friday and Saturday which earned him a Southern Open win and a possible berth in the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series. Here, in his own words, is how he did it: Trevor Fitzgerald
(1st place — 44 pounds, 2 ounces)
Thursday was tough. I lost several good fish. I just couldn't get the hook set I needed to get them out of the heavy grass. It was frustrating. I only weighed three fish. Regardless, I knew the better fish were in there, so I decided to live or die with what I was doing.
I was fishing an area about 6 or 7 feet deep with fairly heavy, matted hydrilla on top. On Thursday the bite was soft and the fish were bunched up back in the mats. On Friday, however, the weather started to stabilize and the fish moved out a ways and became more aggressive.
That's when I really started catching them, or maybe I should say getting them to the boat. Almost all my fish in the last two days were caught with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver (black and blue) using a 4/0 Reaction Innovations BMF hook and a 1-ounce Tru-Tungsten weight, pegged.
My reel was a Quantum Energy (7.0:1 gear ratio) spooled with 65-pound-test PowerPro braid. I own a rod company, Fitzgerald Rods, so naturally I used one of my flipping sticks — a 7-foot, 6-inch heavy action model. I needed strength and sensitivity combined into one lightweight unit. This is the rod that gives it to me. The real thing about this win is that I stuck with my plan, with what I know.
I prefished here about a month ago and decided then that unless something changed radically I would flip. Nothing much changed, so neither did I. I know a lot of the guys were throwing topwater early in the mornings, but I just kept flipping. Why change? I only had two rods on the deck of my boat all three days, both identical and rigged the same. The proof of my strategy came on Saturday. My first bass — caught early in the morning — weighed 5 pounds. I know if I'd been working a topwater plug I wouldn't have caught her.
Sometimes it's tough to stick with a plan, but it'll mostly play out to your benefit in the end. We've all heard it a thousand times before: If you believe in what you're doing, and have confidence that it'll work, it's the best thing you can do.
My win this past weekend is proof of that. Another factor that I think made a big difference was my high-speed reel. Most of the bass were scattered on Friday and Saturday, so it was a matter of being able to cover water.
With that reel, I was able to get my bait back quickly. I made at least 100 more pitches each day because of that. That's huge in competitive fishing. I want to say something else, too. This is a tournament where things fell into place. It doesn't always happen that way.
A one-or two-fish difference and the result would have been different. I'm fortunate to be where I am today.