Bossier City’s Nick LeBrun brought five bass to the scale Saturday weighing 19 pounds, 15 ounces, to win the 35th annual T-H Marine Bass Fishing League All-American on Cross Lake with a three-day cumulative total of 15 bass weighing 62-8.
LeBrun’s weight helped him edge second-place angler and friend Randy Deaver of Blanchard, Louisiana, by 2 pounds, 3 ounces, and earned him $100,000 and a berth into the world championship of bass fishing — the Forrest Wood Cup.
“To win this caliber of tournament right here at home means everything to me, my family, my career and my sponsors,” said LeBrun, who earned his third career win in FLW competition. “Fishing in an event like the Forrest Wood Cup is something I’ve dreamed about since I competed in my first club tournament. I’m truly humbled and blessed.”
Lebrun’s go-to pattern this week involved fishing cypress trees and duck blinds on the western end of the lake. He focused on trees in various bayous, and relied heavily on a 6th Sense Movement 80X crankbait on a 7-foot Fitzgerald Rods Bryan Thrift cranking rod with 17-pound-test Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon line, as well as a V&M flipping jig with a V&M Flat Wild trailer.
LeBrun also used a Spro popping frog to catch a couple of key fish up shallow on Day Two to complete a limit.
“The 80x was my main bait this week and is what produced the majority of my 26-pound limit on Day One,” said LeBrun. “It’s a deal where it catches 3-plus pound fish, but not a lot of them. Today, I caught four out of the five I weighed in on it.”
LeBrun used a methodical approach to picking apart his cover this week, taking advantage of his bait’s abilities to lure fish.
“Basically one was a moving bait and one was a pitching bait,” said LeBrun. “Whenever I was somewhere I couldn’t throw the crankbait, like a certain tree where the limbs were too low or too long, that’s when I would pick up the jig as a little insurance. Every time I fished a duck blind, I’d parallel the edges with the 80X, but before I’d leave, I’d pick up the V&M jig to kind of probe and throw up in the blind and in places you have to beg one to bite.”
LeBrun’s win was especially emotional for him and his family Saturday. Earlier this week, Lebrun shared that he lost his father, Billy LeBrun, in February, and that he dedicated an 8-pound kicker to him on the water. Saturday, the Louisiana boater said he experienced another moment that told him it would be a special day.
“When we were at the takeoff ramp, I was pacing around the dock before getting in the boat, and there was some music playing over the loud speakers. A song called “Small Town Southern Man” by Alan Jackson came on, and it’s one of the songs my family and I remember my Dad with. It’s been tough this year, but when I heard that, I felt like he stepped in the boat with me. It’s something that’s just hard to explain.”
The top 10 boaters on Cross Lake finished:
1st: Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, 15 bass, 62-8, $100,000
2nd: Randy Deaver, Blanchard, 15 bass, 60-5, $20,200
3rd: Adam Wagner, Cookeville, Tenn., 15 bass, 53-13, $15,100
4th: Roger Fitzpatrick, Eldon, Mo., 14 bass, 52-7, $14,000
5th: Tyler Morgan, Columbus, Ga., 15 bass, 50-14, $13,000
6th: John Duvall, Madison, Ga., 15 bass, 50-9, $12,000
7th: Rob Jordan, Flowery Branch, Ga., 14 bass, 49-5, $11,000
8th: Marty Sisk, Evansville, Ind., 15 bass, 48-13, $10,000 + $4,000 Ranger Cup Contingency
9th: Heath Pack, Ellijay, Ga., 13 bass, 39-0, $9,000
10th: Ben Blaschke, Muldrow, Okla., 12 bass, 37-11, $8,000
A complete list of results is posted atFLWFishing.com.
Overall there were 43 bass weighing 128 pounds, 7 ounces, caught by the final 10 boaters Saturday. The catch included six five-bass limits.
Matthew Bouldin of Smithville, Tenn., won the Co-angler Division and $50,000 Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 39 pounds, 5 ounces, followed by Jesse Parks of Avondale, Ariz., in second place with 13 bass weighing 39-1.
The top 10 co-anglers finished:
1st: Matthew Bouldin, Smithville, Tenn., 15 bass, 39-5, $50,000
2nd: Jesse Parks, Avondale, Ariz., 13 bass, 39-1, $15,000
3rd: Mike Allen, Crystal Springs, Miss., 12 bass, 32-0, $6,200
4th: Matthew O’Connell, Brooks, Ga., 13 bass, 28-6, $5,050
5th: James McWhorter, Hamilton, Ohio, nine bass, 25-12, $4,500
6th: Brandon Brock, Honea Path, S.C., nine bass, 23-6, $4,000
7th: Hernandez Ruffin, Bellevue, Wash., eight bass, 22-9, $3,500
8th: Michael Nelms, Hartwood, Va., eight bass, 22-8, $3,000
9th: Daniel Tuten, Byron, Ga., eight bass, 20-15, $2,500
10th: Ray Blash, Waynesville, Mo., eight bass, 18-4, $2,000 + $1,000 Ranger Cup Contingency
Overall there were 24 bass weighing 68 pounds, 11 ounces caught by nine Co-anglers Saturday. The catch included two five-bass limits.
Hosted by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission, the BFL All-American featured 98 of the best boaters and co-anglers from across the 24-division T-H Marine BFL circuit casting for cash prizes of up to $120,000 in the Boater Division and $60,000 in the Co-angler Division, plus an invitation to compete for bass fishing’s most coveted prize – the Forrest Wood Cup – held Aug. 10-12 on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Television coverage of the 2018 T-H Marine BFL All-American at Cross Lake will premiere on NBC Sports Network Aug. 1 from 11 a.m. to noon. The Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
The 2018 BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 tournaments throughout the season, five qualifying events in each division. The top 45 boaters and co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six regional tournaments where they are competing to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the BFL All-American. Top performers in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the FLW Tour.
— Brian Johnson, FLW Communications Specialist
— Featured photo of Nick LeBrun courtesy of FLW