Brauer ended the competition on Wheeler Lake with a three-day total weight of 23 pounds, 12 ounces and a payday of $51,000 in cash and merchandise.
He was fishing two different areas that were both in the northern parts of the river. Like most of his fellow pros, Brauer struggled with both rising water levels and unpredictable weather.
"We had kind of a weird situation when we had 5 inches of rain," Brauer said. "You had all that fresh water come in to all the tributaries, and then they started emptying it out of Guntersville, which raised this lake. All that water trying to get out of the creeks made what I call a water pile. It's just piling up because the lake wouldn't let it out.
"I didn't even fish the areas the first days of the tournament because I knew it'd be too screwed up. I went down and fished the Elk River and caught enough fish there to survive the first day. When I went up there the second day, they had dropped the lake enough to let that water come out and I started to see some flowage. Today, it got to the point where there wasn't any flow anymore."
Brauer was flipping his own Strike King pro model 1/2 –ounce jig in black and blue, alternated with a new bait that has yet to hit the market, called the Denny Brauer Strike King chunk.
Horton, the leader after day two, had to be satisfied with second place and a weight of 31-12.
"You know you'd like to win, but second place isn't all that bad," Horton said. "I just had a tough day.
"I moved around a lot and found different schools of fish in different places. I caught them all on a Booyah buzz bait and was catching them on that in the middle of the day when it would get calm. Today, with that front coming through it got really bad. There were some 3- and 4-footers out there today. It muddied up really bad on the flats."
Georgia's Donald Eaton came up a spot from day two to finish third in the tournament with a final weight of 22-5. Tennessee's David Walker and Florida's Charles Pippin, Jr. rounded out the top five with weights of 29-11 and 29-3 respectively.
Nineteen-year-old John Windham from Florida held on to his lead today to win on the non-boater side. Windham, whose grandmother died recently, said the victory has special significance.
"The last thing I told my grandmother was that I loved her and that I was going to Lake Wheeler to fish in a tournament and that I was going to win it for her," Windham said. "The Lord blessed me immensely."
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. In 2004, BASS will introduce the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 Series, a four-event, no-entry-fee circuit featuring a $1.6 million prize purse for the world's best anglers. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass-fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Chevrolet Trucks, Yamaha Outboards, Mercury Marine, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Kumho Tires, Progressive Insurance, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Diamond Cut Jeans, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, and BankOne.
Associate Sponsors include Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning and G3 Boats.
Local sponsors include Decatur Convention and Visitors Bureau.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit