Eufaula’s Scott Montgomery and Ethan Greene finished second and third, respectively, at last week’s 2019 Bass Pro Shops Fishing Tour National Championship on Lake Eufaula.
The tournament was won by Phenix City’s Ryan Ingram, who used the Ledgebuster Spinnerbait from Eufaula-based Strikezone Lures to haul in his 54.35-pound, three-day stringer.
“I caught basically all of my fish in 18-25 foot depths in the mid & upper areas of the lake. I mainly looked for isolated trees on a ledge, using a 1.5-ounce Ledgebuster with a Gorilla blade attached. Most of my fish were caught early on each day,” Ingram said. “The first day weather was not a big factor, as the biggest concern was the timing of trying to catch the fish while they transitioned between ledges and shallow beds.”
This championship event was comprised of 321 anglers from across the country who qualified and competed in local regional divisions over the past year. Top prizes for the event included two Triton 21TRX boats, one Triton 19TRX boat, all of them outfitted with Mercury 4-Stroke outboard motors and select Garmin electronics, as well as a slew of cash and door prizes.
Ingram brought in a 5-fish limit bag of bass each day, with his largest weighed bass coming to 5.99 pounds on the scales. Ingram had the largest daily catch on day 1 at 21.68 pounds, and he was also the highest placing Angler of the Year from all divisions, winning one of the brand new Triton 21TRX boats (valued at $65,000) and a cash reward.
In second place overall was Montgomery, who brought 15 fish to the scales throughout the event for a total placing weight of 50.16 lbs. Montgomery was averaging just approximately 14.8 pounds on the scales the first two days of the event but hammered it home on the final day with a 20.43-pound bag to secure the 2nd place spot overall. His largest bass of the event landed at 5.68 pounds. Montgomery earned the other Triton 21TRX boat for his high placed finish.
“I stayed down lake the whole time. I started out fishing anywhere from probably 25-30 foot, “Montgomery said. “I just ran until I found a natural tree and started to drop shot. The second day I had to come back up the lake to find my bites. I caught my fish using 6-8-inch finesse worm by Big Bite then switched to a 7-inch Suicide Shad swim bait. I was catching about 60 fish the first day, and closer to 20 the other days, but was getting limited actual bites. All I can say is that I tried.”
The third-place finisher for the event was Greene, a Lakeside School senior. Greene also brought 15 fish to the scales during the event and, even with one dead fish penalty, totaled up a 47.87-pound weight for the event. He was also one of the youngest competitors in the event.
“I caught all of my bass this week using an 8-inch finesse worm made by Big Bite Baits. Most of my fishing was on ledges in 15 to 20 feet of water,” Greene said. “It’s been a fun week.”
There was a secondary full-payout side pot for the largest bass caught during each of the three-day events. On day 1, Scott Sarff of Bloomington, Minnesota, caught a 6.83-poundbass, while Donald Griffith of Robertsdale caught his 6.19-pound bass on the second day. During the last day of the event, Andra Willis out of Raleigh, North Carolina caught the biggest bass of the day at 6.24 pounds.
The awards banquet for the event was held at the Eufaula Community Center Friday evening following the final weigh-in. Further presentations and draw prizes were awarded, as well as the induction of two new members into the American Bass Anglers’ Hall of Fame. Tom O’Bryant from Cedar Grove, Tennessee and Roger Gunsell from Derby, Kansas joined the prestigious ranks of the Hall of Fame this year. The top 5 finishers in the event from various service teams and groups were also announced, included the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, Lady Anglers, and Associate Anglers. As a final draw prize award, John Stevenson Sr. from Brooklyn Center, Minnesota was the lucky recipient of the third boat, a Triton 19TRX (valued at $45,000).