11.Mar.2012 by Gary Mortenson
ANDERSON, S.C. – All week long, Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., said that he didn’t want to be in first place until after the final day of competition on Lake Hartwell. Well, he lived up to his word. Using a whopping 20-pound, 5-ounce catch as a springboard during Sunday’s finals, Ehrler effectively ran away with the title – boasting a total catch of 74 pounds, 13 ounces to walk away with the fourth FLW Tour victory of his career by out-fishing his next closest competitor by more than 3 full pounds.
If it wasn’t clear before, it’s certainly obvious now that Ehrler is fishing as well as anyone on the planet. And that’s no exaggeration. In addition to today’s Lake Hartwell victory, Ehrler has won the Forrest Wood Cup title (2006), the FLW Tour event on Lake Ouachita (2010), the FLW Tour Table Rock Lake contest (2010), two FLW Series titles (Lake Havasu in 2009 and Lake Shasta in 2010), and the 2004 EverStart Series Championship.
In addition, Ehrler boasts 29 top-10 finishes in FLW events since 2003 as well as over $1.86 million in career earnings. He has recorded two angler-of-the-year titles (EverStart Series Western Division in 2003 and FLW Series Western Division in 2010), finished runner-up in the FLW Tour Angler of the Year race in 2008 and 2011 and netted three top-10 finishes in the Forrest Wood Cup since 2006.
And as a final bonus, Ehrler managed to shrug off his second-place finish at the FLW Tour Lake Hartwell event just one year prior en route to full redemption in South Carolina in 2012.
Not bad for a few days work.
“It feels so good,” said Ehrler, who netted $125,000 in first-place winnings at the Lake Hartwell contest this week. “I can’t tell you how awesome it is to win this thing. I just had a very good day today.”
Ehrler said that he had been mixing it up all week, fishing in depths ranging from 2 to 50 feet and employing multiple baits including everything from drop-shot rigs, to jigs, reaction baits to Picasso umbrella rigs. But today, Ehrler said he honed in on two key areas where he managed to do most of his damage.
“All of my fish came on two spots today,” he said. “Basically, both of those spots had fairly big drop-offs from about 30 to 50 feet. This lake is fairly flat so when you find those deeper drop-offs, you can get those better quality bites. It took me awhile to get going. But when those spots turned on, it went fast. I had a limit by about 9:30 a.m.”
Ehrler said that he targeted staging bass that were adhering to deeper drop-offs and content on feeding up on baitfish before moving onto the banks to spawn.
“I pulled up on one spot and caught a 4- or 5-pounder right away,” Ehrler said. “I had a dry spell in the middle of the day but I caught two good fish pretty late. I basically conserved both of my main areas today and that really paid off. I didn’t fish one spot at all until today and the other one, where I caught most of my fish, I only fished a little bit on day three.”
While Ehrler’s arsenal was vast all week, the California pro said he concentrated mostly on fishing a Phenix football jig and Phenix casting jig equipped with a 5-inch twin-tailed grub. Then when he found the fish he was looking for, he often employed a drop-shot Senko rig.
But winning the tournament wasn’t the only bonus for the young pro this afternoon.
“Today I got a text from my wife that my son just started crawling,” said Ehrler, trying to hold back tears onstage. “This has just been an awesome week. It really has.”
FLW Tour Major competition resumes March 29-April 1 at Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo.
Special thanks to everyone at http://www.flwoutdoors.com