by Brett Carlson
FLW Press Release
EUFAULA, Ala. – When Randy Haynes won the EverStart Series event on Pickwick Lake two weeks ago, it was hardly a surprise. After all, Haynes has five FLW wins on the Tennessee River and he knows just about every nook and cranny on the entire chain. But Haynes had never visited Lake Eufaula, part of the Chattahoochee River system. Initially it took some getting used to, but Haynes acquainted just fine.
|Remaining off-shore and consistent made the difference|
in Randy's victory.
The Counce, Tenn., pro is fishing his rookie season on the Walmart FLW Tour, but his experience and ability belie that of a seasoned veteran. Earlier in the week, Haynes spoke about the history of Eufaula as an offshore cranking lake, tipping his cap to pioneering anglers like David Fritts and Bobby Padgett. While the humble Haynes will never admit it himself, he’s beginning to enter that same rare territory.How good is Haynes offshore? Mark Rose, known as the ledge master on tour, largely credits Haynes with his offshore education and transformation.
While Haynes had identified six solid schools of bass on the mid-to-upper end of Eufaula, what bothered him all week was that he’d only catch a fish or two off each school. Thanks to cool spring, the numbers of bass just weren’t there yet, and while his weights were increasing each day, the possibility of stumbling on day four was real.
Haynes was eager to at least scratch out a limit this morning, and in a rush his timing got a little off.
“I was impatient with my rotation; I was trying just to get by and I was about an hour early today,” he explained. “I had three main spots, and I was rotating through them, giving them a few hours of rest before I would go back. I hit my spots three times per day and I was lucky to have sections of the lake all to myself.”
Over the course of the tournament, Haynes said roughly half his keepers came on Strike King 6XDs and 5XDs in citrus shad color. The other half came on a variety of swimbaits, and a few fell victim to a Strike King football jig or Carolina-rigged creature bait. The key water depth was six to 15 feet and oftentimes the fish would suspend off the front of the bars. While most offshore fishermen targeted brush and timber, Haynes fished hard rock. It was his belief that the shad were spawning on the tops of the rock ledges and occasionally he could even feel the shad nip and bump his baits.
“It varied, but a lot of times the crankbait would fire them up and then I’d go back with the swimbait. Today I weighed one on the crankbait and four on the swimbait. Once the sun got up, it put those fish on top and they started eating.”
Haynes’ day-four sack officially weighed 16 pounds, 1 ounce. With a total of 73 pounds, 1 ounce, his winning margin was 11 pounds. The hardwood floor installer will take a $125,000 check with him back home to Tennessee.
“To win one of these events, everything has to line up just right. I was blessed. I’m so happy for my family and friends. There are so many people back home that I compete for, and against.”
Haynes concluded by calling Eufaula a special place – a fitting offshore venue for his first tour title.
“Back in its day, Eufaula was theplace. I started ledge fishing back in 1998. I decided I had to learn because nobody wins around the bank anymore. I don’t think I’ve hardly been back since.”
Thrift soars to second
After a subpar day three, Bryan Thrift made up some serious ground on day four – soaring from seventh to second via a 16-pound, 14-ounce limit. Thrift finished the week with a four-day total of 62 pounds, 1 ounce.
“I fished shallow for the first hour and a half this morning after only weighing in four little spots yesterday,” said the Chevy pro. “I caught one on a buzzbait, one on a swim jig and one skipping a jig under a dock. That kind of relaxed me as I went out to my deeper stuff.”