O'Bryant Named AFT Champ
By less than a pound, Tom O'Bryant, 53, held on to win the 2010 American Fishing Tour National Championship tournament and the more than $53,000 first prize, presented by Triton Boats and Mercury Marine, as a cold front battered Kentucky Lake near Paris, Tenn.
The 25-year retired Navy veteran from Cedar Grove, Tenn., landed three consecutive five-bass daily limits to finish with 33.24 pounds. Fishing a flat near New Johnsonville at the southern part of the lake, O'Bryant caught five keepers for 10.61 pounds on the final day of the three-day event. With 11.46 pounds on the first day, he held fifth place, but advanced into the lead on the second day with an 11.17-pound effort. The veteran of 22 seasons on the ABA trail also took second in the angler of the year points competition.
"I caught all my fish on a spinnerbait around isolated grass patches," O'Bryant explained. "The fish were very spooky. The person who was going to win this tournament was the one who was going to make the most casts and cover the most water. I was making extremely long casts, going for that reaction strike. The fish hit that tiny spinnerbait as soon as it touched the water. If the weather hadn't changed, it would have taken 60 pounds to win this tournament. The shad don't have any cover, so they are roaming. The bass were chasing shad in the flats, but only coming up for very short periods. I caught 20 keepers in the past three days."
O'Bryant set as his goal winning a new Triton bass boat -- and did! He won a fully rigged Triton 21XS bass boat package powered by a 200-horsepower Mercury Optimax ProXS outboard and a MotorGuide trolling motor, a package worth about $53,000. About 500 anglers from more than 100 AFT divisions in 41 states competed in the random draw format tournament.
Ron Nutter, Jr., 43, of Newark, Ohio, maintained his lock on the second-place spot. The only other angler to catch three daily limits, he finished with 32.28 pounds to collect $6,300. He also went home with a hefty check as the top Triton Gold finisher. Going into the final day, Nutter landed 11.46 pounds. He caught 11.88 pounds the first day and 8.94 pounds the second day.
"Most of my fish came off structure in less than two feet of water," Nutter said. "Some other fish came out of schools chasing bait. I fished a Rat-L-Trap and a chatter bait. I lost a 4-pounder on a jig the first day and another good one the second day. This is the toughest time of year to fish Kentucky Lake."
After catching only 1.9 pounds the first day, Todd Phillips, 34, of Clarksville, Tenn., brought in the largest single-day sack of the tournament at 19.18 pounds. He finished third with 10 bass at 30.67 pounds to take home $3,600. On the second day, he landed 9.59 pounds. His biggest bass weighed 5.07 pounds.
"I found a creek channel when pre-fishing and caught bass on a Strike King spinnerbait," Phillips said. "I went back during the tournament when the wind died down and couldn't catch them. I lost a 4-pounder. I went back there the second day and caught some schooling fish in a creek channel bend. I caught my two biggest fish that day on docks. On the last day, we found more schooling fish. Then, we started fishing the stumps and catching our bigger fish on Spooks. I also caught some on a jig with a green pumpkin split-tail trailer."
Chris Bullock took fourth with 10 bass going 26.78 pounds. He caught 6.27 pounds the first day, 11.68 pounds the second day and 8.83 pounds the third day. Troy Harrison rounded out the top five anglers with seven bass going 20.96 pounds. He caught bags weighing 8.83, 8.45 and 3.68 pounds with one 4.64-pounder.
Fishing his first AFT National Championship, John Jones of Olney, Ill., took home tournament big bass honors with a 5.95-pounder he caught on the second day. He caught the lunker on a jig in six feet of water. In all, the anglers landed 810 bass, releasing 99 percent of them, for a total weight of 1,924.30 pounds.
The 2010 AFT National Championship is sponsored by the Paris Henry County Chamber of Commerce and the Tennessee River Resort Act, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Royal Purple, Angler's Advantage Insurance, Early Times Kentucky Whisky, Busch Beer, Carlisle Tire & Wheel, Hobbie Polarized Sunglasses, Gary Yamamoto, Keep Alive, ProBass Networks, BioEdge, Rejuvenade, and Frazier Marine Group.
For more information about ABA or the AFT, call 888-203-6222. On line, visit www.americanbassanglers.com.