Big Final Day Vaults Texan Ben Matsubu to Victory in Bassmaster Elite Series Lake Toho Event

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Ben Matsubu knew he was on a good fishing spot, but he also knew he had to wait for the bass to turn on and start feeding. His patience paid off Sunday with a five-fish limit weighing 25 pounds, 5 ounces, and a 14-pound victory in the Bassmaster Elite Series Sunshine Showdown presented by Allstate Boat Insurance on Lake Tohopekaliga.

All the drama of the Sunshine Showdown can be viewed on The Bassmasters on ESPN2 on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 9 a.m. ET.

Matsubu’s Berkley Heavyweight Bag of the Day – the biggest of the tournament – was anchored by the tournament’s biggest bass of 8-13. The Hemphill, Texas, pro finished with a four-day total weight of 66-8 to win the season-ending Bassmaster Elite Series event. Matsubu’s second career victory and first Elite Series win was worth a total of $111,000.

Bill Smith of Somerset, Ky., was second at 52-7. Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., who had a 1-pound lead over Matsubu going into the final day, was third at 52-5, followed by Glenn Delong of Bellville, Ohio, at 50-9 and Scott Rook of Little Rock, Ark., at 41-9.

“I’ve struggled the last four years here in Florida. I can’t figure out the fish here in spring,” said Matsubu, 45. “But I’ve won the last two tournaments here in the fall.”

Matsubu’s first BASS tournament title was the Bassmaster Elite Series Wild-Card Qualifier last November on Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes.

Matsubu said he fished in the dead center of Lake Toho, where he had eight clumps of grass. He’d move from clump to clump until he found a concentration of fish. The first day Matsubu fished the area for about an hour because he already had a nice limit fishing a different spot with an RC 1.5 square bill crankbait.

“I gave the spot to Takahiro (Omori) so he could make the (Bassmaster) Classic,” Matsubu said.

Matsubu ended the first day in third place at 16-1. He went to the area Friday, threw his crankbait all day and caught five fish weighing only 7-10 to drop to seventh place, nearly six pounds behind Chapman.

His co-angler that day, Mary Delgado, caught 14-7 on the same crankbait, then sat down and fished a Carolina rig while Matsubu continued to crank. That turned out to be one of the keys to Matsubu’s victory.

“She’d drag that Carolina rig behind us and catch keepers,” Matsubu said. “The next day I threw that crankbait for an hour and a half and didn’t catch anything. Then I switched to a Carolina rig.”

Fishing a junebug-colored finesse worm, Matsubu caught a limit weighing 17-8 Saturday to move into second behind Chapman.

“My goal was to get within three pounds of Brent,” Matsubu said. “When I came from six pounds behind to one pound, I felt I had a chance at it.”

Matsubu followed the same strategy Sunday, throwing his crankbait for 90 minutes, but he didn’t get a bite. Then he switched to the Carolina rig and started hitting each of his clumps.

“I had to go to all of them today,” Matsubu said. “I’d catch three or four fish, then wait two hours for them to bite again.

“At one spot I caught a 5-pounder, then got another 5 and a half. Two minutes later I caught a 1-pounder, then a 2 and a half. That was the end, so I went to the last clump in the area and that’s when I got the 9.”

Smith, who led the first day, then slipped to second and then fourth, caught a limit weighing 16-11 Sunday to finish second. He caught his fish at a spot that he’d fished the first day when he was waiting for the lock at the south end of Lake Toho to open.

He caught some of his fish on a bait that is no longer made, a blue pearl-colored Bass Assassin soft-plastic jerkbait that he Texas-rigged with an eighth- or three-sixteenths-ounce sinker. He also caught fish on a junebug trick worm Texas-rigged with an eighth-ounce weight. Sunday he fished the trick worm on a Carolina rig.

“I was fishing a hydrilla bed with lily pads on the outside and outside the pads was a shell bed,” said Smith, 36, who caught two 5-pounders. “I caught some fish inside, then moved out to the shell bed and that’s where I got the two big ones.”

Chapman had caught his bigger fish flipping a Zoom Super Hog and filled out his limit drop-shotting a 6-inch Zoom finesse worm at the south end of Lake Kissimmee. Sunday, only the drop shot was working.

“The thing that hurt me was I didn’t get any of my flipping bites,” said Chapman, 35, who caught five fish weighing 10-2 on the drop shot.

Local sponsors: Central Florida Sports Commission and the Kissimmee Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Bassmaster Elite Series sponsors: Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series include Toyota Tundra, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Evan Williams Bourbon, Ramada Worldwide and Costa Del Mar.

Live, streaming video of the Sunshine Showdown’s daily weigh-ins begins at 3 p.m. ET at Also live on, the pre-show Hooked Up will preview the final weigh-in Sunday. ESPN2 Outdoors personalities Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders return as the Hooked Up hosts.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit Visit for ESPN's latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video and audio clips and more.

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BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.