Open: Fothergill takes the win at Lake Eufaula

Easton Fothergill takes the win at the 2024 St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Lake Eufaula presented by SEVIIN with 52 pounds, 8 ounces.

Minnesota's Easton Fothergill wins the 2024 St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Lake Eufaula presented by SEVIIN with 52 pounds, 8 ounces.

EUFAULA, Okla. — Easton Fothergill’s an easygoing guy with no apparent mean streak, but he started Day 3 of the St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Lake Eufaula presented by SEVIIN with a chip on his shoulder. Suffice to say, his winning total of 52 pounds, 8 ounces more than settled the score.

Keeping himself near the top, the pro from Grand Rapids, Minn., weighed a third-place limit of 17-12 on Day 1 and held his position with a second-round limit of 16-11. Championship Saturday saw Fothergill charge ahead with his biggest bag, a limit of 18-1 that pushed him across the finish line.

Edging Andrew Loberg by 2-12, Fothergill collected the $44,155 top prize and received an invitation to fish the 2025 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey OutdoorsMarch 21-23 on Lake Ray Roberts.

“In practice, I was thinking the fish were residential, but I learned that they’re not,” said Fothergill, who earned his first Classic berth by winning the 2023 Bassmaster College Classic Bracket presented by Lew’s. “The key was just to cover water and make sure you’re putting your bait in front of as many fish as possible.

“If you found a spot and caught one fish off it, you could go back a half hour later and another one would be pulled on it.”

Fothergill’s final-round consternation stemmed from a heartbreaking Day 2 loss. After randomly finding a school of big fish under a dock on Day 1, he started the second day on that spot, but lost a 5-pounder and scattered the school.

Day 3 erased that pain with another random encounter — this time, with a triumphant conclusion. Naturally, Fothergill gave that special dock an early look, but the fish had inexplicably vanished.

Continuing on, Fothergill ran a few more of his key areas, but none produced. Around 10:30 a.m. he happened upon a particularly interesting point with a mix of mostly scattered rock.

“I wasn’t seeing anything, and I wasn’t catching anything, so I thought I should check something new,” Fothergill said. “That point caught my eye as I was running by it, so I pulled in there and the first fish I caught was that giant one.

“It was just a slow tapering chunk rock point with basketball-sized boulders on one side of it, and it had a super sharp break, which provided immediate deep-water access.”

The sweet spot, Fothergill said, was the thin line of bigger rocks that were dotted with big fish. Casting his Neko-rigged Strike King Finesse Worm toward that sweet spot, he came tight on an absolute Eufaula mud monster that went 8-12.

“I knew I was right back in it with that fish,” Fothergill said. “The fish jumped 4 feet out of the water and then it dove under the boat. I had to get on the trolling motor and chase him down a couple of times.

“I was super excited. I couldn’t put my worm back on my hook, I was shaking so bad.”

Prior to that fish, Fothergill used the Neko rig to box a small keeper on a rock pile near his dock.

After his massive kicker busted up the school, Fothergill let the point rest. Around noon, he gave it one more look and found another keeper on a nearby boulder. 

At 12:45 p.m., he made his final move and filled his limit by throwing a Chatterbait over a shallow, wind-blown gravel point.

“When I caught my fifth keeper, I was thinking, ‘Okay, I got some EQ points,’” Fothergill said. “I had no idea how far an 8 3/4-pound bass would go.”

Hailing from Grant, Ala., Loberg finished second with 49-12. Focusing on the mid lake region, he turned in daily limits of 18-01, 15-4 and 16-7.

Doing most of his work on isolated rock just off the bank, Loberg caught his fish on a hand-tied custom-made football jig with a Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog, a Damiki-rigged Strike King Z-Too, and a dropshot with a 6-inch Roboworm.

“You really had to try and get it in their face in the muddy water,” Loberg said. “In the cleaner water, if you messed a school up, you had to leave because they were done.”

Connor Jacob of Auburn, Ala. finished third with 48-9. His daily weights were 14-3, 17-9 and 16-13.

“Going into this tournament, after last year, I heard how pressured the lake was and how brush piles get beat on,” Jacob said. “So instead of bigger brush piles, I fished smaller brush, shallower brush — anything that might not get hit as hard.”

That plan served him well on Day 1, but the second day saw Jacob establish a good marina bite. On Day 3, the marina produced four of his keepers, with his fifth biting on a stump. 

A dropshot with a 6-inch Roboworm in morning dawn produced most of Jacob’s fish. A late day crankbait fish gave him a 1 1/2-pound cull.

Fothergill won the $750 Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 8-12.

Fothergill leads the Tackle Warehouse Bassmaster Elite Qualifiers standings with 878 points. Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, Texas is in second place with 869, followed by Evan Kung of Pickering, Can. with 853, Cody Meyer of Eagle, Idaho with 853, and Matt Adams of Oxford, Ala. with 850.  

The event was hosted by Visit Lake Eufaula.