MLF Press Release
APPLING, Ga. – A little more than a month ago, Dakota Ebare’s story was how close he’d been to winning so many times and how it seemed like it was only a matter of time before he finally hoisted a trophy.
Now, it’s how many times he might lift a trophy this year, thanks to two wins in five weeks.
After finally getting the monkey off his back by winning the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats event at the end of January on his home waters of Sam Rayburn, Ebare once again hoisted a MLF trophy this week. And, he did it in dominant-yet-dramatic fashion, going wire-to-wire to win the Toyota Stop 2 Presented by Lowrance event on Clarks Hill Lake.
After racing out to 5-pound-plus leads the first two days of the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals event, Ebare actually saw his lead vanish at one point as Travis Harriman amassed the largest bag of the derby. Yet, with less than 30 minutes left, Ebare caught a 4-pounder that got him to 16 pounds, 7 ounces for the final day, allowing him to hold on to the win by 10 ounces with 58-10 total.
If you think that final fish was fortuitous, it really was just part of what Ebare called a “blessed” week where things just seemed to keep going right.
“They say when it’s meant to be, it will be,” Ebare said. “Well, I knew when I caught a 4-pounder this morning that wasn’t even hooked that it might be meant to be.”
Predetermined or not, this week sure made Ebare ride a roller coaster of emotions.
Ebare’s path to victory
Day 1 was all smiles, as everything went right. Ebare put together a deep/shallow pattern on the lower end of Clarks Hill and then up the Georgia arm of the Little River that produced the second-largest bag of the event (23-13).
By Day 2, though, those smiles went away as fast as his patterns.
“(My shallow pattern) went away quickly,” Ebare said. “The fish didn’t replenish after other competitors were also picking them off. I kept trying to grind it out, but it wasn’t happening. But, I knew I could come down to the lower end and catch 12-13 pounds of spotted bass with the potential for a kicker. So, I came back down here around takeoff and just went fishing.”
Ultimately, Ebare figured out the fish were keying in a depth range not quite on the bank, but not out deep either – just milling around, waiting for the conditions to get right to go up and spawn. Plenty of them were just swimming around in this range, eating blueback herring; but those were far harder to target than ones hanging around brush piles, which is where Ebare focused.
Still, it was a struggle, as Ebare had roughly 9 pounds around 1 p.m. Wednesday, when one of those meant-to-be moments occurred. He saw a big mark sitting above a brush pile, cast his Strike King Ocho on a 3/16-ounce Strike King Shakey Head in there and hooked it … only to lose it. Yet, when he looked back in, the fish was still there, and a cast back produced an 8-2 kicker that buoyed his weight tremendously.
He started off Championship Thursday catching a big fish that was never even hooked; but it was that late 4-pounder that made the difference.
“My cameraman asked me right as I pulled up to that dock if I thought the winning fish was on that dock,” Ebare said. “I said, ‘yeah, but I don’t know if she’s going to bite.’ Because I could see there was a lot of brush under the dock and fish were swimming around it. Well, first cast I made I caught that 4-pounder. That fish sealed the deal.
“Man, I was so close so many times in the past, I felt like it was inevitable that eventually I was going to get it done and get a win. But, to do it twice this year a month into the season, it is just truly a blessing is all I can say.”
Top 10 pros
1. Dakota Ebare – 58 – 10 (15)
2. Travis Harriman – 58 – 0 (15)
3. Spencer Shuffield – 53 – 15 (15)
4. Ron Nelson – 52 – 13 (15)
5. Sean Anderson – 50 – 0 (15)
6. Tristan McCormick – 48 – 8 (15)
7. Matt Becker – 48 – 8 (15)
8. Connor Cunningham – 48 – 4 (15)
9. Cal Lane – 48 – 1 (15)
10. Tom Redington – 48 – 1 (15)
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