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      Taking the win in wire-to-wire fashion, FLW Tour pro Bryan Thrift tallied 18 pounds, 4 ounces on the final day for an even 57-pound total in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain. For the win, Thrift earned $44,200 and a new Ranger boat, and it’s his 11th win with FLW. The Northern Division is presented by Gajo Baits and the tournament was presented by Polaris. 

      Complete results

      Winning co-angler pattern 

      Historically, Thrift has been stellar throughout the south in his home state of North Carolina, Arkansas, along the Tennessee River and everywhere else. He hasn’t, however, really kept up his typical pace in the north country. After the last few weeks on Champlain, it’s safe to put that trend to bed.

      “I’m not going to say it’s been my nemesis, but I’ve never really got in a groove on this lake until 2016 when we came for the Tour and I tied for 10th and ended up 11th,” says Thrift. “It was like the lightbulb went off then and I realized what I was doing wrong. Not that I learned what to look for, but I learned how to practice. I think that was the biggest thing.”

      Thrift finished third in the FLW Tour season finale on Champlain just a few weeks ago to finish out a somewhat trying season for him. This was his third Costa FLW Series win, so he’s no stranger to them, but he says they’re all good ones.

      “Man, it feels great to win,” says the Shelby, N.C., pro. “I feel like I’ve let a couple chances to win kind of slip through my fingers this year, and a couple of them were my fault. If I would have got beat in this one I would have got flat beat, and I can handle that. When I beat myself, I don’t like it.”

      Thrift walloped 22 pounds of largemouths on day one, which undeniably set up the win, but the single fish that did it for him was actually a smallmouth he plucked from a rockpile in 15 feet near Plattsburgh.

      “I had one spot about two miles from takeoff and I pulled in there at about 1:10, and we had to be in at 1:30,” says Thrift. “I caught a 3-10 there that culled a 2-12. That last-minute fish won the tournament for me. I was kind of mad when I caught it, because when I got there I caught a couple little ones and there were like ten 3- or 4-pounders following them to the boat. So, I’m scrambling, I’m throwing everything I’ve got tied on because I knew if I could catch two of the bigger ones I’d win it. I ended up catching one of them, and it was a madhouse. I had maybe two rods left on the deck with a bait tied on it.”

      Thrift fished a lot like he did the Tour event at the end of June. Mostly targeting shallow offshore grass on flats in Missisquoi Bay and the Inland Sea, he leaned hard on a Damiki Stinger (he says he went through at least 115 of them) in the 4- and 5.5-inch sizes on a Neko rig and a 1/4-ounce Texas rig. Day one was all largemouths, but he weighed in two smallies on day two and three on day three.

      “The biggest thing was making myself slow down and fish and weed through little fish, the first day especially,” says Thrift. “I’d catch like eight or 10 fish, not even keepers, and then I’d catch a 4-pounder. Once I saw that, it gave me the confidence to weed through and get those bigger bites.

      “There were definitely little sweet spots,” Thrift says of his areas. “I don’t know what was different about them than the rest of the area; maybe the grass was a little thicker or thinner or there were more perch. But, if you went through fishing and caught one, there’d be more around. It was kind of weird. The main area I was in, it would be all smallmouth in the morning. Then, after 7:30 or 8 o’clock it would transition over to all largemouth.”



      McKee Takes Co-Angler Title
      Henry McKee

       Weighing in 16 pounds, 2 ounces on day three, Henry McKee beat out co-angler superstar Gary Haraguchi for the win in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division on Champlain. With a 47-8 total, McKee won a $1,050 and a brand-new Ranger Z175 with a 90-horsepower outboard.

      Complete results

      Winning pro pattern 

      “It’s amazing. I’m still taking it all in,” says McKee of the win, which is his first with FLW. “I left a few fish out there, a big one yesterday and two today, and I thought that was going to be the nail in the coffin. But everything fell together today and I’m just elated.”

      McKee fished everything from a Ned rig to a topwater on day three, but his key on days one and two was a green pumpkin-colored Riot Baits Synth wacky-rigged on a drop-shot. Keeping weights in his pocket for different situations, McKee alternated between 1/4-, 3/8-, and 1/2-ounce weights.  

      McKee makes his living as an audiologist, but he loves chasing smallmouths on the side.

      “I test hearing and fit hearing aids,” says McKee. “My wife and I both do the same thing, so we have a lot of freedom to travel. My father started our practice 50 years ago, and he watches the office when we leave and watches the weigh-ins online. He loves when I fish, so he doesn’t give me any problems when I need to take time off.”



      July 20, 2019  by Jody White

      The final day of the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Champlain has been about as different from day two as possible. So far, different conditions definitely have the bass acting different, but Bryan Thrift does seem to be closing in on the title.

      While day two was windy and rough, day three has pretty much been calm from the get-go. It has also been hot as blazes. It’s made fishing a little tougher than expected, with a lot of anglers reporting missed or lost fish and a generally slower bite. That said, a slow bite on Champlain is a great bite most everywhere else, so we’re still going to see plenty of bass.

      By about 11:30 a.m., Bryan Thrift had culled his way up to an estimated 16 pounds, which is almost certainly close to 18 pounds if you apply the traditional Thrift bump. That means he’s got to be caught, and someone else is likely going to need around 20 pounds or better to do it.

      In second, Scott Dobson had a slow morning. He boxed a limit by 10 o’clock or so, but none of them were over the 3-pound mark. Edward Levin may be the best competition for Thrift right now – he started the day in third place and was catching solid quality en route to a 16-plus-pound estimate.

      Down in the field, a lot of pros have had a struggle of a morning. Jason Bacon only had 11 pounds by 11:30, and Brandt Tumberg only had three fish at about the same time. Wayne Vaughan is probably too far back to win, but he’s going earn some extra money today if all goes well. he had a slow start, but he was culling into the teens by 9:30 and had some pretty good smallmouths coming aboard.

      Joe Wood and Kurt Mitchell (who ran to Ti), reman true mysteries today. Both Casey Smith and Ron Nelson were sitting on blanks very early.

      Weigh-in is sure be a fun one. On the co-angler side, we know Robert Fulton has about 16 pounds, and Gary Haraguchi was cleaning up behind Scott Dobson. The pro side has a little less mystery, but there’s a lot of time left for someone to catch a kicker or two to put the heat on Thrift. As usual, it’ll be live online at 2 p.m. ET, and live in-person at the Plattsburgh City Marina.