Sunday, May 20, 2018

2018 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest Lake Travis Day 3: Drew Benton Captures Lead with 51lbs.

Low light key to leaders
Thomas Allen

Benton focused on marinas to sack big bass early.
(Photo: BASS)
Drew Benton of Panama City, Fla., caught an impressive five-bass limit that weighed 20 pounds, 4 ounces during today’s semi-final round to take command of the top spot at the 2018 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at Lake Travis.
Benton, the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year, pushed his three-day total weight up to 51 pounds.
With $1 million in total payout, $100,000 of which to be paid to the top finisher, the tournament champion will also earn a coveted berth in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in Knoxville, Tenn.
Benton said he’s focusing on the Lake Travis bass and not the blue championship trophy or the paycheck.
At least not yet.

“I’ve still got a full day of fishing ahead of me, so I can’t afford to think about how much winning would mean to me at this point,” Benton said. “Don’t get me wrong, I know how hard it is to win on the Elite Series, and I want it badly. It’s just important that I stay focused throughout the day.”
Benton said he was able to isolate a couple of productive fishing patterns over the past three days of competition — both time-of-day dependent.
“The low-light action early in the morning has been critical to my limits,” he said. “The morning bite has been lasting longer each day, and with a chance of rain and cloud cover likely all daytomorrow, I think my early pattern could stay strong for quite a while.”

The 30-year-old pro explained that during the afternoons when the sun was out, he caught his fish along banks where the water was calm.

“When the wind and boat traffic would push waves against the shore, the water would get muddy, and the fish would stop biting,” Benton said. “Today I learned I could replicate that pattern in more protected stretches of water once the waves became more regular. It paid off this afternoon.”

Benton believes if he can catch 15 to 17 pounds, he’ll be tough to beat.

“This lake can be unpredictable. One day you could catch 25 pounds, and the next, only 6 pounds for five bass,” he said. “I’m keeping that in mind during the final day, but I think I’m on the right fish in the right locations. Things just have to go right tomorrow, and I’m confident.”

Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tenn., dropped back to second place following today’s competition. He produced a five-bass limit that weighed 12-15, bumping his total weight up to 48-6.

“I had a pretty good day,” he said. “I caught more fish than I could count, but I just never caught a big bass. This lake is full of fish, and they love to bite. I think there are so many small bass that dominate the feeding, you really have to cover water to find the big ones.”

Wheeler said he’d be starting Championship Sunday right where he likes to be — in the hunt.

“I have a shot at the win tomorrow, that’s all I can say,” he said. “It’s really hard to predict what I need to win this tournament — it could be only 12 pounds, it might be 26. I do think the right fish are in my fishing areas, and I think I can catch them. But we’ll have to see how it shakes out.”

Cliff Pirch weighed in the biggest bass of the day, a 7-1 largemouth, but that fish trails the heavyweight of the tournament, a 10-pound, 5-ounce bass caught the first day by former Classic champion Cliff Pace. If no one catches a heavier bass Sunday, Pace will win a new Toyota Tundra pickup truck valued at $50,000.

Pace held down third place for the third day in a row, this time with a total of 46-3. Rounding out the Top 5 are Brent Chapman in fourth place with 43-5 and Bobby Lane in fifth with 43-2.

Takeoff will begin at 6:15 a.m. CT Sunday morning at Jones Brothers Park in Jonestown, Texas, and final weigh-in will take place at the same location beginning at 3 p.m.

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