NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Although it came down to a mere 3 ounces and he had to sweat out victory in the end, National Guard pro Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., accomplished something rarely seen on the FLW Tour – winning a title without relinquishing the lead for four straight days.After defeating fellow National Guard teammate Justin Lucas in a hard-fought, final-day contest, Martin was still in a state of disbelief even after hoisting the tournament title.“It almost feels like a dream,” said Martin, who netted a relatively pedestrian catch of 13 pounds, 7 ounces on the final day. “This has been such a crazy day. To have a good lead like I did (early in the event) and to have to watch it slowly get chipped away every day, it’s stressful. I really figured somebody was going to come back today with a 17- or 18-pound bag and edge me out. So I’m really surprised I won. A couple of guys who I thought were really going to whack them, didn’t whack them today. It was a stressful event for sure. But it’s also been a blessing.”Martin said a number of factors kept his confidence at a high level. For starters, he was fishing in the same tournament with his father and fishing legend, Roland Martin. Secondly, before heading to the event, he told his wife that he was going to win the tournament title for her. Those two factors, along with some great fishing locations and expert execution, ultimately kept him going and propelled him to a tournament title.“I dedicated this tournament to my wife and I told her that before I even came here that I was going to win this title for her,” said Martin, who finished the event with a total catch of 66 pounds, 6 ounces. “And to be able to live up to that and pull it off is really special. Also, my dad’s from here. He grew up fishing the Potomac River and I kind of wanted to show off for him. I’ve been able to travel with my dad all year and like I’ve said before, I’ve probably spent more time with him over these past few months than I have in the last 10 years … and that’s been really special for me. I’ve also had a lot of confidence this week and really, that was my winning lure.”
After distancing himself from the rest of the field on day one, Martin came into day two with a 4½-pound lead over his next closest competitor. But then the tournament leaderboard began to tighten. Heading into Saturday, Martin’s lead was down to roughly 2½ pounds. And coming into the finals, Martin’s margin was only a shade over 2 pounds. On Sunday, only Lucas ultimately had the numbers to threaten Martin but he too fell short in the end – by a mere 3 ounces.
“Justin is a phenomenal angler,” said Martin. “And he’s definitely going to win one of these one day.”
In the meantime though, Martin – the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup champion – gets to add another piece of hardware to his mantel to go along with his other impressive FLW victories. Including this event, Martin now boasts five FLW Tour titles (2011 Forrest Wood Cup Lake Ouachita, 2009 Lake Champlain, 2004 Lake Champlain, and 2000 Pascagoula River) as well an FLW Series victory in 2010 on Lake Okeechobee.
As he did all week, Martin concentrated on grass flats with a combination of three key baits.
“I fished grass all day,” he said. “I fished a Bruiser Baits ribbon-tail worm, a Bruiser Baits paddle-tail worm and a ChatterBait. I caught most of my fish on the worms during the first three days, but today, I caught four of my really good keeper on that ChatterBait.”
Martin said that he began the day in his main grass area where he landed four keepers. He then headed south down the Potomac to a few more isolated grass areas where he picked up four more keepers. But because the wind really picked up in the latter part of the afternoon, he decided to err on the side of caution and start heading back toward the marina.
“I fished really hard but all day long I felt that I was one bite away from what I needed to win,” he said. “When I turned around and came back north, I got back here a lot earlier than I had expected. And I didn’t get another bite all day. I was really worried I’d left my other spot too soon. I really thought I was going to regret that decision.”
But as it turned out, he had already won the event – albeit by the slimmest of margins.
“It was a nerve-wracking week. It was a stressful week. But I had a lot of fun,” said Martin, who took home a first-place check for $125,000. “And that’s what makes this win so special. Now, I just have to keep fishing hard and get ready for the next tournament.”
Lucas wins “Heartbreak Hotel” award
After beginning his FLW fishing career as a co-angler back in 2006, National Guard pro Justin Lucas of Guntersville, Ala., has undoubtedly grown by leaps and bounds as an angler since then. As a 26-year-old pro, Lucas now boasts four FLW Series co-angler titles and one EverStart Series co-angler victory. He’s also an accomplished tournament host on the FLW College Fishing circuit. But since turning pro three years ago, Lucas has been searching for the one title that has eluded him to date – an FLW Tour victory. And today, he thought he finally had it.
After rallying from a 90th-place finish on day one, Lucas out-fished the rest of the field over the next three days, streaking up the leaderboard to 20th place on day two and then to fifth place overall heading into the finals. And during the finals, Lucas whacked them again, bringing in a 16-pound, 9-ounce stringer to up his four-day total to 66 pounds, 3 ounces. But unfortunately for Lucas, he came up 3 ounces short of his dream scenario and had to settle for second place … again.
“It’s my best finish ever on the Tour but it’s just been a crazy week,” he said. “I made a really bad decision on day one and that cost me. I also lost a 4-pounder every day of this tournament and you just can’t do that. But it is what it is. I had a real opportunity to win this and knock this out of the ballpark. So today there is kind of a sour taste in my mouth just because I wanted to win this so badly.”
After finishing the EverStart event at Lake Guntersville in second place just a few short weeks ago, Lucas had to settle for second place again.
Lucas said that he fished grass flats all day, keying on ¾-mile stretch off the main river that housed a combination of pre-spawn, spawning and post-spawn bass.
“I used a homemade swim jig and stayed in that one spot all day,” said Lucas. “Unfortunately I lost a huge 4 ½-pounder at the boat with about 45 minutes left. It was a real donkey and that cost me.”
Overall though, Lucas said it was yet another learning experience.
“Not winning has just made me that much hungrier,” he said. “But I’m happy with my performance and I can’t thank everyone enough. I just fished against nine of the best anglers on the tour and finished in second. So I really can’t complain.”
For his efforts, Lucas went home with nearly $35,000 in winnings.
Dudley rallies but comes up short
Using a total catch of 65 pounds, 7 ounces – including a nice 15-pound, 10-ounce bag in the finals – Castrol pro David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., grabbed third place overall, just a month removed from his FLW Tour victory on Beaver Lake.
But despite his awesome run over the course of the last six weeks, Dudley was hardly satisfied.
“I’m happy with my decisions this week but I’m not happy with the results,” he said. “I want to win every tournament and finishing third just means you’re the second loser. But I did good. There ain’t much more I can say.”
Dudley said he started the day fishing wood and other hard cover in the morning and as the tide got lower, he migrated to grass areas. He said he targeted bass using a combination of Havoc Rocket Craws, Hawk Hogs and the occasional Havoc Pit Boss.
“I love fishing the Potomac River,” he said. “I grew up fishing here and it’s a special place for me.”
While he didn’t win the event and make it two for two on the FLW Tour, the 2011 FLW Tour Angler of the Year now finds himself atop the AOY standings with the season rapidly coming to a close. And that’s at least one accomplishment nobody else can boast of at this point.
For his efforts, Dudley also took home nearly $29,000 in winnings.
Moynagh nets fourth
“Last year I finished in 109th place but I switched up my baits this year and obviously did a lot better,” said Moynagh. “I fished a grass flat, using an All-Terrain jig around the edges of the grass. Basically, I just got into the right areas this tournament.”
However, Moynagh’s story could have been quite different had he not had to battle through some horrible luck on day three. During Saturday’s competition, Moynagh suffered through a heartbreaking day after a livewell mixup forced him to abandon all but one fish from his morning limit. According to tournament officials, Moynagh’s co-angler partner inadvertently placed his own fish in Moynagh’s livewell which is a rules violation. As such, Moynagh had to throw back the majority of his catch and start over. Although Moynagh rallied to land another 14-pound, 11-ounce limit at the end of the day, which was good enough to propel him into seventh place overall heading into the finals, the setback didn’t help any in his bid to capture the Potomac River title.
However, for his valiant efforts, Moynagh still managed to take home nearly $25,000 in prize money.
Schrumpf finishes fifth
Fishing in his rookie season on the Tour, Colby Schrumpf of Highland, Ill., was simply hoping to cash a check. But in the end, he did much more than that. Using a total catch of 63 pounds, 12 ounces, Schrumpf out-dueled the likes of fishing icons Bryan Thrift, Clark Wendlandt, Dave Lefebre, Clifford Pirch and Ron Shuffield to finish the Potomac River event in fifth place overall.
“I had one area pretty much to myself and I was able to pick through it pretty good,” he said. “I was basically targeting shallow wood with a finesse worm. And with the tides changing all day, I was able to constantly pick up new fish and get a 14- or 15-pound bag out of that area every day.”
For his efforts, Schrumpf won more than $19,000.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 pro finalists:
6th: Chevy pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., 62-8
7th: Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, 61-11
8th: Kellogg’s pro Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., 61-10
9th: Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., 61-10
10th: EverStart pro Ron Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark., 61-4
For a complete list of the day’s results, click here.
Bass-fishing fans take note
FLW Tour action resumes June 7-10 on Kentucky Lake in Murray, Ky.