With the winner’s purse in hand, Brauer boosted his total BASS career earnings to $2,077,751, becoming not only a $2 million man, but once again the BASS all-time money winner, passing two-time CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin VanDam by more than $17,000.
“I was very proud of that accomplishment, and to get it back is special,” said Brauer, who had held the top spot in earnings for many years. “Records are meant to be broken, but I won’t go away quietly.”
To see Brauer take the win and become BASS’ all-time money winner, tune into The CITGO Bassmasters Saturday, July 22, at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN2.
Brauer became the second angler to bust through the $2 million mark in less than a month; VanDam hit it June 18. Winning the Champion’s Choice also marked the 16th Bassmaster win for Brauer, whose career titles include champion of the 1998 CITGO Bassmaster Classic.
On the final day of the Champlain event, Brauer, 57, of Camdenton, Mo., brought in a limit of five largemouth bass that weighed 23 pounds, 4 ounces, pumping his four-day total to 80-3, almost 8 pounds more than the second-place finisher. All week he fished a lure named for him: Strike King’s Denny Brauer Premier Pro-Model Jig, which he rigged with a trailer and 60-pound braided line.
After three days of trailing Toyota Rookie award contender Lane of Winter Haven, Fla., Brauer committed himself on the fourth and final competition day to a 100-yard stretch of water thick with reeds and grass. He said he fished it most of the day, but had his limit by 7:30 a.m.
Not only did his final weight earn the 18-time Classic qualifier the $100,000 top prize, but his Day 4 weight included the $1,000 Purolator Big Bass (5-2) and was the biggest bag of the tournament, earning him the $1,000 BUSCH Heavyweight bonus.
If his big bag remains one of the 10 heaviest weights in the 11-event 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series, he will qualify for the $216,000 BUSCH Shootout.
“This is probably my favorite lake as of this moment,” said Brauer as he reflected on his Lake Champlain achievements. “It’s a very special win to come at this point in my career.”
Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., moved up Day 4 with a catch of 17 pounds, 15 ounces, bringing his total to 72-5 for the $30,000 second-place payout. Third was Terry Butcher of Talala, Okla., who finished with 70-11, for the $25,000 cash prize. Fourth was Mark Tyler of Arizona with 69-6. Tommy Biffle of Oklahoma finished with 68-13, good enough for fifth, but not for a repeat of his win a week ago at the Elite event on Oneida Lake in New York.
After fending off the world’s best BASS pros for three days, Lane, 30, fell to sixth. He had been fishing an area at the north end of the lake, but Sunday headed south for the final day in what he described later as “the wrong move.”
“I had a good practice there the first day and thought it had the potential to [allow me to] hang on to the lead,” said Lane. “I think local angling pressure scattered the fish.”
Despite losing the lead, Lane built his points total and jumped from 11th to sixth in Toyota Rookie of the Year standings.
“My goal this year as a rookie is to learn as much as I can,” Lane said. “You’ve got to do whatever it takes to adjust to what you’ve been dealt. It’s been a heck of a ride this week.”
The Champion’s Choice concluded The Northern Swing of the 11-event 2006 Elite Series. With nine down, the Elite pros enter The Final Charge: Capitol Clash on the Potomac River in Charles County, Md., Aug. 10-13; and The Rock presented by TheraSeed on Table Rock Lake in Kimberling, Mo., Sept. 14-17.
In each Elite Series event, anglers vie for $673,150 in cash to the top 50 Elite pros. Just as important are the points amassed toward qualifying in the Bassmaster Majors and CITGO Bassmaster Classic, and in the race for the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.
2003 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion Michael Iaconelli leads the Angler of the Year points standings, but trailing by 50 points is the leader in the Toyota Rookie of the Year race, Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala.
Kennedy has had a phenomenal season, finishing in the top 50 eight out of nine Elite tournaments. His highest finish was third place in the Southern Challenge presented by Berkley on Lake Guntersville.
Local Sponsors: Local sponsors include the city of Plattsburgh.
CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series sponsors: Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advance Auto Parts and Theraseed®.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO 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 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or www.bassmaster.com.