Brauer rallies to win on Day 4

Veteran angler regains all-time earnings lead at Champions Choice

Pro Fishing

July 17, 2006|By CANDUS THOMSON | CANDUS THOMSON,SUN REPORTER

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- When push came to shove on the last day of the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series event on Lake Champlain yesterday, veteran Denny Brauer found some extra oomph to best 11 other anglers and grab the $100,000 top prize.

Brauer, the 1998 Bassmaster Classic champion, worked a patch of tall reeds that yielded a five-fish limit of 23 pounds, 4 ounces for a total of 80 pounds, 3 ounces.

The win was his 16th career BASS title and allowed him to reclaim the all-time money lead from Kevin VanDam. They are the only anglers to earn more than $2 million on the Bassmaster circuit.

"The older you get, the more you appreciate it because it gets harder," said Brauer, 57, of Camdenton, Mo. "It doesn't top the Bassmaster Classic by any means, but it's special."

Brauer said he returned to an area he had fished earlier, flipping a black and blue Strike King Premier Pro jig into a patch of reeds about 50 yards long, where the water ranged from 2 to 4 feet deep.

Brent Chapman of Shawnee, Kan., finished second with a four-day total of 72 pounds, 5 ounces. Terry Butcher of Talala, Okla., caught 70 pounds, 11 ounces, good for third place.

Maryland is the penultimate stop on the Elite Series on Aug. 10-13 at Charles County's Smallwood State Park.

Brauer started the final day in second place, 1 pound, 4 ounces behind rookie Chris Lane in the tournament dubbed "Champion's Choice." Lane had grabbed the lead on the first day with a five-fish limit of 21 pounds, 2 ounces, and held it through the second and third days of competition as the field was whittled from 102 pro anglers to 50 anglers to the Elite 12.

But a ruling Saturday night by Trip Weldon, the tournament director, placed Lane's go-to spot off limits and opened the door for a charge by Brauer and the rest of the top five anglers.

Heavy rain raised the level of the lake near a wildlife refuge, creating new fishing areas that were outside the field of play. Anglers, including Lane, strayed into the restricted area.

"Anglers did nothing wrong," Weldon said. "There are some anglers upset, and I understand that."

Lane said he took a "head-clearing" hourlong ride yesterday morning to a spot about 100 miles south of his original location, and tried to make the best of the situation.

"I'm glad they told me I couldn't fish there on the fourth day instead of the third day or second day," he said with a small smile. "I would have loved to compete on the final day of the tournament against Denny Brauer, him and me. But I'm tickled pink. It was a dream come true. I'm ready for the Potomac."

candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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