“Every fish I weighed all week was a spotted bass,” said Bennett, who has now won more than $396,000 in FLW Outdoors events. “I couldn’t ask for a more perfect site for a tournament.”
Bennett said he grew up catching Alabama spotted bass in California, and that experience paid off for him during the Lewis Smith Lake tournament. Bennett said he targeted bass near docks on main points during the tournament and threw a green-pumpkin Berkley Gulp! Sinking Minnow rigged wacky-style to catch nine of his 10 keepers during the last two days of competition.
“In practice, they were on the very fronts of the docks,” Bennett said. “As the tournament progressed, they seemed to get further and further beneath them. The first couple of days I just fished the front of the dock and wouldn’t go around it, but the last two days I skipped way underneath the dock and just let it fall.”
Bennett opened the tournament Thursday in 10th place with five bass weighing 12-13. He jumped to sixth place Friday with a five-bass catch weighing 12 pounds, 4 ounces to advance into the final round of 10 pros with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 25 pounds, 1 ounce. On Saturday, weights were cleared, and Bennett caught five bass weighing 14-9 to advance to the final day of competition in first place. Bennett added another five bass weighing 12-15 to his final-round total Sunday.
Canterburycaught a final-round total of 10 bass weighing 24-5 to claim second place and $50,000.
“It’s unbelievable to do this in front of my hometown,” Canterbury said. “I want to make numerous top-10s, and I don’t want this to be my only one this year. I said all year long if I could have a choice of what tournament to make the top 10 in, it would be Smith Lake just so I could weigh in in Birmingham.”
Rounding out the top 10 pros were Team Prilosec pro Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla. (10 bass, 22-0, $40,000); Team Chevy pro Luke Clausen of Spokane, Wash. (10 bass, 21-6, $30,000); Team Snickers pro Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala. (10 bass, 20-0, $20,000); Team Castrol pro Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla. (nine bass, 17-1, $19,000); Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla. (eight bass, 16-4, $18,000); Brandon Coulter of Knoxville, Tenn. (six bass, 13-15, $17,000); Team Berkley pro Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla. (six bass, 11-14, $16,000) and Danny Pierce of Greenbrier, Ark. (four bass, 7-10, $15,000).
Overall there were 42 bass weighing 89 pounds, 15 ounces caught in the Pro Division Sunday. The catch included six five-bass limits.
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On Saturday, Lynn Oswalt of Jasper, Ala., won the Co-angler Division and $20,000 with two bass weighing 3 pounds, 5 ounces followed by Teddy Roberts of Faubush, Ky., in second place with one bass weighing 1-13 worth $10,000.
Oswalt opened the tournament in 33rd place Thursday with two bass weighing 4 pounds while fishing with pro Keith Combs of Del Rio, Texas. On Friday he jumped into third place on the strength of a five-bass catch weighing 11-04 while fishing with Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind. He wrapped up his win while fishing with Pugh.
“I felt like all day long I was going to need to catch more than two fish,” said Oswalt, who earned his win in only his second FLW Outdoors event. “You never really know what’s in those other boys’ sacks, and they’re all sitting there looking at you and grinning. I’ve been close before in these things, but nothing this big.”
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are Paul Mueller of Southbury, Conn. (one bass, 1-11, $9,000); Frank Divis Sr. of Fayetteville, Ark. (zero bass, $8,000); Larry Hostetler of Floyds Knobs, Ind. (zero bass, $7,000); Masahiro Yanase of Nagoya, Japan (zero bass, $6,000); Greg Edwards of Jasper, Ala. (zero bass, $5,000); Stetson Blaylock of Benton, Ark. (zero bass, $4,000); Chad Hillis of McMinnville, Tenn. (zero bass, $3,000) and William Grantham of Mobile, Ala. (zero bass, $2,000).
Overall there were only four bass weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces caught in the Co-angler Division Saturday. The catch included no five-bass limits.
Coverage of the Lewis Smith Lake tournament will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States as part of the “FLW Outdoors” television program airing May 11 and 18. “FLW Outdoors” is also broadcast in Canada on WFN (World Fishing Network) and to more than 429 million households in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East through a distribution agreement with Matchroom Sport, making it the most widely distributed fishing program in the world. The program airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time in most markets. Check local listings for times in your area.
The next FLW Tour stop, the $1.5 million National Guard Open, will be held on Lake Norman in Charlotte, N.C., April 24-27.
FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world. In 2008 alone the organization is offering more than 90,000 anglers the chance to win over $40 million through 230 tournaments in 10 circuits targeting bass, walleye, redfish, kingfish and striped bass. FLW Outdoors is also taking fishing mainstream with the largest cash awards in the history of fantasy sports, $7.3 million.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing and Player’s Advantage, visit FantasyFishing.com.