LEESBURG, Fla. – Rookie pro Bradley Dortch of Atmore brought a five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 2 ounces to the scale Sunday, March 12, to win the FLW Tour at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Ranger Boats.
Dortch’s four-day total of 20 bass weighing 73-9 gave him the win by a narrow 1-pound, 12-ounce margin over second-place pro J.T. Kenney of Palm Bay, Florida, and earned him $100,000 in a dramatic finale to the four-day tournament that featured 163 of the best bass anglers in the world.
“This is something that I’ve been dreaming about and working towards for years,” said Dortch, who had one prior career win in FLW competition – a Costa FLW Series event on Wheeler Lake. “It really hasn’t even set in yet, I cannot believe it. When you’re sitting in the middle of J.T. Kenney, John Cox, Bryan Thrift, and my name is being mentioned with those anglers – wow.
“It’s kind of crazy to think about, but the key for me this week was my Day One boat draw,” Dortch continued. “I had a late boat draw on Day One and that caused me not to go to Lake Griffin, which is where I had spent the majority of my practice. I was boat 121, so I decided to stay in Lake Harris for an hour or so and let the lock clear. While I was waiting, I caught two 4-pounders and that kind of told me that I should hang around.”
The decision paid off for Dortch, as he spent all four days of the tournament fishing in Lake Harris and Little Lake Harris. He said he caught most of his fish throughout the week on a chrome and blue-colored Rat-L-Trap and a junebug-colored NetBait Salt Lick worm. He also caught a few fish on Sunday with a junebug-colored NetBait Big Bopper worm.
“I used to live down here, so I’m pretty familiar with Florida and how the fish like to set up,” Dortch said. “I knew what I needed to look for – green, crispy hydrilla growing out in front of spawning pockets. I figured the spawn would be pretty much over by now and that those post-spawn fish would probably be the deal.”
With his tournament win, Dortch has now earned 500 total Angler of the Year points on the season and is in second place in the coveted Rookie of the Year (ROY) race. Justin Atkins of Florence, Alabama, the current ROY leader, is one spot ahead of Dortch with 502.
The top 10 pros finished the tournament on the Harris Chain of Lakes:
1st – Bradley Dortch, Atmore, Ala., 20 bass, 73-9, $100,700
2nd – J.T. Kenney, Palm Bay, Fla., 20 bass, 71-13, $30,000
3rd – Mud Hole Custom Tackle pro John Cox, DeBary, Fla., 20 bass, 69-1, $25,000
4th – Shane LeHew, Catawba, N.C., 20 bass, 66-1, $20,100
5th – Matt Reed, Madisonville, Texas, 20 bass, 64-14, $19,000
6th – Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 20 bass, 64-9, $18,000
7th – Chris Whitson, Louisville, Tenn., 20 bass, 62-14, $17,000
8th – Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., 20 bass, 57-10, $16,000
9th – Aaron Britt, Yuba City, Calif., 20 bass, 56-3, $15,000
10th – Rusty Trancygier, Hahira, Ga., 20 bass, 54-14, $14,000
For a full list of results visit FLWFishing.com.
Overall there were 50 bass weighing 149 pounds, 10 ounces caught by pros Sunday. All of the final 10 pros weighed in five-bass limits.
Television coverage of the FLW Tour at the Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Ranger Boats will premiere in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) May 3 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. EDT.