Britt Myers took the calculated risk of making an extremely long run on each day of fishing during last week’s Huk Performance Fishing Bassmaster Elite at Winyah Bay.
The payoff was his first victory in a Bassmaster Elite event, which gives him a good start in the 2016 series toward his ultimate goal – qualifying for his first Bassmaster Classic.
Entering the tournament, Myers had one specific area in mind to fish in order to find lunker largemouth bass – Pimlico, an area on the Cooper River in Berkeley County well north of Charleston.
“Everybody knew the fish that lived there were larger,” said the 41-year-old Myers, a resident of Lake Wylie. “I thought for sure the tournament would be won there – I just didn’t know I would be the one winning it. If you’re trying to win the tournament you’ve got to put yourself where the winning area is and that’s where I thought it was.”
Myers wasn’t alone in targeting the Cooper River.
Conway native Chris Jones served as a marshal in the tournament and reported 32 anglers in the field of 109 ran to the Cooper River on the first day of fishing, and 41 on the second day despite very windy conditions throughout the four-day tournament.
The field was trimmed to 51 anglers last Saturday for the third day of fishing and 12 for the final day on Sunday.
From the launch site – the Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex located on the Sampit River in Georgetown – Myers ran through Winyah Bay, down the Intracoastal Waterway to Charleston and another estimated 40 miles up the Cooper River to fish in the Pimlico area.
Such a run was a new venture for Myers, a native of Gastonia, N.C., who settled down just south of the state line in the town of Lake Wylie with his wife, Missy.
“It was an eight-hour day, and I had four hours driving and four hours fishing,” Myers said. “I’ve had some 1-hour or 1 1/2-hour (runs) but that is by far the farthest I’ve run in my career.”
Myers, who caught a five-fish limit all four days of fishing, got off to a great start, and was in second place after the first day with an aggregate of 16 pounds, 8 ounces behind leader Carl Jocumsen (19-11).
The second day was a doozy for Myers. He took over the lead with an aggregate of 21 pounds, 7 ounces.
“That 21-7 day is the one that carried me through the tournament,” Myers said. “Twenty-one pounds, no matter where you fish in the country is a great day. It was one of those days where I could almost call my shots in catching fish and that doesn’t happen often especially in a tournament of that caliber. I could read the tide right and could almost call where I was going to catch a fish.”
In practice, Myers found a small ditch was holding fish on an incoming, nearly high tide and he knew at precisely what tide level he could expect the bass to bite.
“This was a little ditch, and I knew if you got the tide right you could do well,” Myers said. “The right tide was at 7:30 a.m. (in a practice round) and 11:30 a.m. on the second day (of fishing). I waited until exactly 11:30 a.m. and caught back-to-back four-pound fish on two casts.
“It all fell into place on that day. I’m pretty sure I was catching some bedding fish. I was targeting stumps and trees submerged, fishing old rice fields and some irrigation ditches filled with hydrilla. Those areas were key to holding larger bass for me.”
Myers’ aggregate weight dropped to 8-15 on the third day and he was in third place entering the final day of fishing.
Myers used a chatterbait to catch most of his first the first three days, but conditions finally changed late on the final day and he changed baits to a fluke.
“When the wind laid down and the water got slick, I was able to give a subtle presentation and it was the lure that helped me fill out my limit on the last day,” Myers said.
Knowing he was in a battle to finish near the top of the field, Myers fished as late as possible.
“When I caught number five and culled a little one with fish number six, I was just hoping to salvage a fifth or sixth-place finish. I fished to the last second,” Myers said. “I made a 100-mile run and there was only two minutes left to beat the (weigh-in) deadline.”
That evening at the final weigh-in back in Georgetown, Myers was surprised to find the upgrade provided by fish number six put him atop the leaderboard.
“When I put the winning fish in the boat, I thought the tourney had slipped out of my hand,” said Myers. “I had no earthly idea that was the winning bass that sealed the deal.”
Myers’ total weight of 56-3 for 20 fish just beat Brett Hite, who finished second with a weight of 55-15 for 17 fish.
Myers previously had two second-place finishes in a Bassmaster Elite Series event, both in 2012, but this was his first visit to bass fishing’s version of the winner’s circle.
“There’s only one more tournament more prestigious than an Elite (Series tournament) and that’s the Bassmaster Classic,” Myers said. “To win one of those is a huge accomplishment and it was in my home state, which is even better.”
The Georgetown area and the Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex are newcomers on the scene of hosting prestigious fishing tournaments, and Myers liked what he witnessed during his near week-long stay in the area.
“I think they did a tremendous job,” Myers said. “Everybody in town knew we were there. If you stopped to get gas, get food, everybody was happy we were there and it was like clockwork the way (the tournament) was run.
“That tournament will put Georgetown on the map so get ready, a lot of smaller tournaments will want to fish there. I’m sure (the Elite Series will) be back too, probably in the next year or two.”
Gregg Holshouser: firstname.lastname@example.org