If Summerville pro Bradford Beavers could offer one piece of advice to tournament bass fishermen, it's that the last cast is just as important as the first one. His win last weekend in the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) super tournament on Lake Hartwell was a perfect illustration.
"The last day, I had five minutes or so before I had to go back in, and I caught a 5-pounder. Without that, I wouldn't even have come close to winning. That was the fish I needed to win and I got it," said Beavers, whose two-day limit of 28 pounds, 1 ounce was worth $6,345.
"The last cast is just as important as the first one. You have no clue when it's going to come; you're just praying that it does come. They give you eight hours to fish a tournament day, so you have to use every bit of it."
Other Lowcountry anglers finishing in the top 10 on the boater side of the tournament included Ron Brown of Cross with 19-13, good for an eighth-place finish, and Robbie Harrelson of Moncks Corner with 10-12, which placed him ninth. Zack Ross of Charleston finished seventh in the co-angler division with 14-3 and Brennan Gunther of Mount Pleasant placed 10th with 7-11.
"It's a working man's tournament, the first FLW tournament trail I ever fished," Beavers said. "But a lot of times the BFLs are the hardest to win because the best locals fish it, not a lot of out-of-town people. You're fishing against the people who have the best knowledge of the lake.
"I've been to Hartwell one other time, probably five years ago. I didn't know anything about that lake. That's what I took the most pride in, being able to go down there knowing nothing and compete with those guys. That was really big for me."
The 2019 fishing season has been an interesting one for Beavers, whose main focus was his rookie season on the FLW Tour. He finished 12th in the season-long point standings with two top-10 finishes (eighth at Lake Seminole and fifth at Grand Lake) and earned $75,000. Beavers finished 22nd in the season-ending FLW Cup.
But he fished two other FLW tournaments as well, winning the Costa FLW Series tournament held in April on the Santee Cooper lakes and Sunday's BFL event on Lake Hartwell. He also had two FLW wins in 2017, a BFL event on the Santee Cooper lakes and a Costa FLW Series tournament on Cherokee Lake. During his FLW career, Beavers has qualified for the FLW Cup three times and earned $260,860.
Walters third in rookie of the year
Patrick Walters, another Summerville fishing pro, wrapped up his rookie season on the Bassmaster Elite series by finishing third in the Rookie of the Year standings and 16th in the Angler of the Year standings. Walters also placed sixth in the Bassmaster Eastern Open pro division standings.
Walters had two top-10 finishes in the Elite division, finishing fourth on the St. John's River in Florida and seventh at the Winyah Bay event held out of Georgetown. He also placed 11th on Lake Hartwell.
Walters has career earnings of $200,354 in Bassmaster events, including just over $100,000 in prizes and bonuses in 2019 Elite events. Before qualifying for the Elite Series, he teamed with Tyler All to win the 2017 Bassmaster College Southern Regional on Winyah Bay and won the 2018 Central Open fished on the Red River in Arkansas.