Fitzgerald wins Southern Open

Published 8:32 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The last lure has been cast and the final fish has been weighed.

Trevor Fitzgerald, a 27-year old Sheriff’s deputy from Ocala, Fla., took home the top prize of $35,000.

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“I’ve won some other tournaments. But this is by far the biggest win I’ve got,”Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald used a Black and Blue Reaction Innovation Sweet Beaver to coax his fish into biting.

He combined the Sweet Beaver with a pegged, one-ounce tungsten weight and 65-pound test Power Pro braided line.

According to Fitzgerald, the key to his success was his Fitzgerald Flippin’ Stick with microguide technology.

“The bite, alot of times, was subtle,” Fitzgerald said about his rod. “I would pick up on the rod and I would feel weight. My rod was sensitive enough that I could feel the slightest movement and would set the set.”

Finishing in second was day two leader Derek Allen of Ponchatoula, La.

“When you live by the frog, you die by the frog,” Allen said.

Allen’s third day catch of 13 pounds, 8 ounces was just shy of the mark set by Fitzgerald.

Allen fished a Spro Bronze Eye frog in a matted mix of coon tail, peppergrass, lilly pads and hydrilla in the Fish Pond Drain area.

“The shallower water seemed to keep most of the other competitors out of the area,” said Allen. “But, once I got over the shallow water, there was one area that was seven to 10 feet deep.”

Allen’s key to success was persistence. He stayed in the same small area for almost all three days of competition until he had the fish he felt like he needed.

“I made a mental error,” Allen said when speaking about his third day’s catch. “I left my fish early because they weren’t biting right. I went to another spot and could only get a couple small bites. If I would have stayed, I may have pulled it off.”

Rounding out the top three was local angler Clint Brown of Bainbridge.

“I am not able to get to my fish and fish them,” Brown said after the second day of competition. “There were so many boats fishing the same areas, that it was difficult to really fish the fish.”

Brown’s final day weight of 23 pounds, 7 ounces proved that he knew what he was talking about.

With the field reduced to the top 30 anglers, more water was opened up for anglers to fish.

The key to Brown’s success was the reduction of fishing pressure.

“When the anglers left and I was able to fish for the fish, I knew I could catch them,” said Clint Brown after weigh-in on the final day.

Brown fished a Spook Jr. and flipped a Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog in and around matted cover in several places around the main lake area. He would focus on deeper grass lines with defined edges.

“The fish I was on were feeding on shad and needle fish,” said Brown.

The top non-boater in the event, Fred Hood of Monroe, Ga., took home a fully rigged Skeeter/Yamaha boat package worth $32,000 for his efforts.

Even though the top three anglers were the ones taking home the hardware, two other awards were presented on Saturday.

The first—invitations to compete in the 2011 Bassmaster Classic, slated for February 18-20, in New Orleans, La.—went to Randall Tharpe of Gardendale, Ala., and Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C.

Tharpe and Montgomery finished the season as the top two anglers for the 2010 BASS Southern Open Tournament Trail sponsored by Bass Pro Shops.

This was determined by a points system that awards points based on the place that a competitor finishes each tournament within the trail.

The second, invitations to compete alongside great Bassmaster anglers like Kevin Van Dam and Skeet Reese, were awarded to the top seven competitors.

This included Tharpe and Montgomery, as well as, Terry Scroggins of San Mateo, Fla.; David Kilgore of Jasper, Ala.; Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla.; Jason Knapp of Union Town, Pa.; and Ott Defoe of Knoxville, Tenn.