First-ever FLW top 10 finish

After a disappointing start to the FLW Tour season, things finally clicked for me last week at Lake Eufaula in Alabama, where I collected my first-ever top 10 finish in an FLW Tour event.
After holding down fourth spot following days two and three, I slipped to fifth place on the final day.
It was a very fun week—from pre-fishing to getting the chance to fish all four days of the tournament.
My Dad came along on this trip and even ended up fishing in the tournament on the co-angler side. It was great to spend some time with him, and he was very helpful in figuring out the pattern I would use throughout the event.
Those of you who followed the tournament online over the weekend probably heard I was catching all of my fish on topwater lures. It was unique because virtually all of the other anglers who made the top 10 were fishing isolated brush piles in deeper water.
I owe the pattern to my Dad, who tied on a topwater popper on the first day of practice in the middle of the afternoon and proceeded to catch three big fish in short order.
It was very hot in southern Alabama last week. Air temperatures were in the 30s C every day, there was little wind, and it was humid
Traditionally, topwater lures don’t work very well in these conditions in the south. There might be a short window in the morning when they work, but then it’s over.
So when my Dad tied on a topwater lure at lunchtime, I thought there probably were some better baits to tie on. But he started catching fish and the rest is history.
We expanded on the pattern and found a few more areas where we caught some nice fish throughout the next three days of practice.
Things went better than expected on Day 1 and I ended up catching some nice fish from my first few stops in the morning. Since I was happy with the weight I had by mid-morning, I was able to save quite a few spots for Day 2.
It was a decision that paid off because I caught some nice fish again on Day 2 from some of the areas that I had left alone.
Only the top 20 anglers get to fish on Day 3 so the lake opened up a little bit more without the entire field fishing. I caught a few fish from places I had caught them over the first two days, but had to expand and keep looking for new water to fill out my limit.
Heading out on Day 4, it was a pretty awesome feeling to know I had a chance that day to fish for $100,000. Only the top 10 anglers get to fish the final day so there is a little bit less pressure knowing that the worst you can finish is 10th.
As such, I decided to abandon everything else I was doing throughout the tournament and fish with the topwater baits exclusively on the final day. That was how I was catching all of my big fish, so I decided I would try to catch the biggest fish I could and perhaps win the tournament.
Things got off to a slow start without any fish on my first four stops—all of the spots that produced for me over the first couple of days. Then I started fishing some new stretches and quickly caught a five-pounder, which was a great start.
It took a while to get my next bite, but then I put a couple of decent fish in the boat. A short time later, I got a huge explosion on my bait and set the hook on a really big bass.
As I fought the fish towards the boat, I realized it was the biggest fish I had seen all week—a six-pound plus bass. As it neared the boat, it jumped and spit my lure, sending me to my knees in heartbreak.
I stuck with my topwater program for the rest of the day but only managed to bring four fish to the scales, so the loss of that big one was pretty devastating. That fish, along with a couple of others that I had hooked, would have put me in a position to win.
As disappointing as it is to come that close and come up short, it still was a great experience and a great tournament for me.
I feel like I got a taste of what it takes to compete against the best bass anglers in the world—and I’m looking forward to getting back at it in a few weeks at the next tournament.
Many thanks to my family, friends, and sponsors who have helped to make it possible for me to fish these FLW tournaments for the past few years and who always support me no matter how I finish.
This tournament was for you!