Finding a win on Eufaula

When I signed up for one division of the 2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Opens, my whole plan was to try and win that tournament on Lake Eufaula in Alabama to go to the Classic. That is why I signed up, and we made it happen on my home lake. We had luck on our side and the right timing. God said it was time, so it was meant to be.

When I sit back and really think about the 2024 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota at Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees and watch videos on YouTube of past Classics knowing that I will get to do that next year, that is pretty freaking awesome.

It felt really good to win on my home lake. If I told you I wasn’t nervous with Shane Powell sitting in second place, it would be a lie. That dude is a hammer on Lake Eufaula. I was in the same situation in October as well. We were fishing for a boat, and I was able to hold him off. I have a lot of respect for that dude, and we have always been supportive of each other.

Seeing the support of my friends I fish against week in and week out was pretty awesome as well. I had all kinds of guys reaching out to me who are great people, and they were extremely supportive and congratulated me. That was a pretty good feeling. 

I’d like to thank my family and friends for all of the support they give me as well as FX Custom Rods and Elite Sonar.

I’m an offshore fisherman, and 11 out of 12 months in the year — really all 12 months — there is an offshore bite going on in Lake Eufaula somewhere. I’m not sure if it is because of the abundance of shad, but it is becoming an offshore lake. We don’t have any hydrilla in it anymore. So I just knew my practice period would be a bunch of seat time. I idled from daylight to dark pretty much, and I didn’t make many casts — maybe 20 or 30 total.

On Day 1, things happened really quickly. I had 25 pounds in literally 15 minutes, but I caught fish constantly for half an hour. It was every cast or every other cast. It was one of the best days I have had on the lake as far as numbers go. After that I quit fishing. If I would have kept pounding them, there is no telling how many bass I would have caught.

Then, experience on the lake helped me that final day. I knew in the back of my mind that I had several spots to fish, and I started running them pretty fast. I wouldn’t stay anywhere long, and I didn’t know when, but I knew it would only take one area. If I could pull up and get some fish to fire, it would only take 10 minutes.

I ran from place to place and I finally pulled up on a spot where the fish looked good on my side scan and down imaging. I fired out there and they were eating. I caught a 7-pounder the first cast and a 4 right after that. I looked at my co-angler and said, “I think I can win this thing.” He told me he thought I could too.

When I caught the first big one, I knew I had a really good shot at it. I just needed to fill out my limit. At 2 o’clock I only had two fish and within 30 to 45 minutes I was sitting on 23 pounds.

This tournament set a fire under me, and I cannot wait to get to Wheeler Lake for the next Open in the division just to fish again and to go somewhere different. I have never been to Wheeler, so that will be fun too.