By George, he caught 'em
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||By George, he caught 'em
Hometown favorite Cochran wins $500,000 at 2005 FLW Championship
By Jeff Schroeder - 16.Jul.2005
SPRINGS, Ark. - Everyone said the locals had an advantage at
tough-fishing Lake Hamilton this week, and they were right. George
Cochran, the Hot Springs pro who has lived on the lake for more than 15
years, took home $500,000 as the 2005 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Forrest L. Wood
Championship winner after catching a five-bass limit weighing 10
pounds, 3 ounces Saturday.
Cochran of Hot Springs, Ark., hoists the $500,000 winner's check at the
2005 Forrest L. Wood Championship at Lake Hamilton.
(Photo by Jeff
And he won it, literally, right in his own backyard.
"My first fish, I caught it on a buzzbait about 300 yards from my
house,” he said. “That's what I"ve been doing most of the week. I’ve
been fishing shallow, which is what I love to do. When you’re in big
tournaments like this, you’ve got to fish to your strengths. If I was
going to win, it was going to be shallow.”
Cochran – who beat Sandy Melvin and Brent Chapman in the first two
bracket rounds to advance to the finals – attacked the shallows of his
home lake this week with a trio of topwater baits. Under the heat and
dealing with a light bass bite, he said that he caught fish on a
Spit-N-King popper as well as a 5-inch trick worm. But it was his
red-and-white, ¼-ounce Strike King buzzbait that was his main weapon –
that, and a secret stash of bass within sight of his house that he’d
been saving for the final round.
stayed on top the whole tournament. If I made it this far, I saved some
deep docks for the final round,” he said. “There are very few times
that everything goes just like you plan, but I had a bank where I knew
I could catch some fish. I didn’t touch it at all during practice or
during the tournament until today. But I went in there this morning,
missed one on the first cast and landed a keeper on the second cast. I
had my limit in the boat by 9 o’clock.”
He wasn’t the only who knew it, either. Presumably thanks to the
Internet and the real-time catches provided by Remote Knowledge at
FLWOutdoors.com, Cochran fans knew that their man was catching some
serious fish. Combine that with an already busy, hot weekend day on the
lake, and people in boats started showing up in droves on Lake Hamilton
to watch as their hometown hero prepared to win the richest tournament
in competitive bass fishing. It provided a surreal, interactive twist
to an already exciting day for Cochran.
“I had about five boats on me this morning, but by 8:30 there were
probably 40 boats,” he said. “By 10:30 there were probably 80 boats
around me, but by then I knew that the good fishing was done, so I just
kind of sat back and enjoyed it. When you’re culling out ones that are
almost 2-pounders, you know that you’ve got fish.”
He had all he needed for his decisive victory early in the day.
Cochran’s 10-3 beat second-place Chad Grigsby by over 3 ½ pounds.
Despite seven limits coming to the scale, nobody else could muster more
than 6 ½ pounds Saturday.
“Today, I was completely focused. I never lost a fish, and I did
everything that I wanted to do,” said Cochran, who fished around
line-busting docks for much of the day.
– who won the FLW tournament at Kentucky Lake in 1996 – has also won
two championship tournaments before, claiming the Bassmaster Classic
title in 1987 and 1996. He said, with his $500,000 at the FLW
Championship this week in front of his hometown fans, he’ll fish one
more Classic this year and then hang it up from the BASS tour. The
55-year-old former railroad brakeman still has his eyes set on making
another run at another half-million dollars at next year’s FLW
Championship, however, saying that he will continue to compete on the
FLW Tour next year.
“It just tickles me to death, at 55, to win such a big tournament,
especially with all my friends and family here,” said Cochran, whose
FLW Outdoors career earnings jumped to a total of $698,400 Saturday.
“That first victory (at the 1987 Classic) changed my whole life. It got
me started fishing for a living, and now I’ve been doing this for 25
years. It can’t get any better than this. Any victory is sweet, but to
win a tournament like this is incredible. I’m getting close to the end
of my career, and I’ve always dreamed of winning the FLW Championship.
I feel like Forrest Gump; now I don’t have to worry about money for a
while. I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
Grigsby second, not satisfied
The winner wasn’t the only one who figured out the buzzbait bite on
Hamilton this week. Grigsby also leaned heavily on the topwater bait to
catch his fish most of the week. Saturday, his buzzbait ultimately
landed provided him five bass that weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces.
“I missed one that was about 3 pounds this morning, and I thought it
was going to cost me, but it didn’t since George won it by more than
that,” Grigsby said. “I fished all new water everyday. Today, I went
way upriver and all I did was cover a bunch of water.”
The pro from Colon, Mich., earned $50,000 for second place.
“I’m not that excited about second place,” Grigsby said. “It’s not that
I’m disappointed at all – especially taking second with all the little
scrawny ones that I caught today – but I’m just not satisfied. The
first time I get excited about second place, I should quit.”
Murray drop-shots into third
John Murray also used a topwater bait early Saturday to catch a few
schooling bass, but he eventually switched to a drop-shot and filled
out his limit catching fish off of deep brush piles.
“I caught two early, and then it was about one every hour and a half,”
said Murray, who added that his drop-shot came armed with a Senko. “It
was the toughest day I’ve ever had drop-shotting on any lake.”
The pro from Phoenix weighed in five bass worth 5 pounds, 4 ounces and collected $40,000 for third place.
“I’m ecstatic,” he said. “I went for broke and stayed deep. I was
either going to come in first or last doing what I was doing, so I
Dean Rojas of Grand Saline, Texas, actually tied Murray in total weight
Saturday but finished in fourth place by virtue of the tiebreaker. He
also caught a limit weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces and earned $35,000.
“I caught my first fish by 9:30 this morning, and I thought I was going
to whack them,” Rojas said. “Then the boat traffic came.”
Rojas caught two of his better bass on a topwater frog that he
designed, the same bait that provided him one of the heaviest limits on
day three. But his frog couldn’t provide enough fish on day four to
help Rojas finally make the leap into the winner’s circle.
“I just didn’t get any big bites today,” he said.
Gagliardi fifth, Jones sixth
Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., caught a limit weighing 5 pounds even and finished in the fifth slot. He earned $30,000.
“I feel really fortunate to be here,” he said. “I lost focus yesterday
and didn’t catch my first fish until 11 o’clock. I think that really
threw me off my game.”
Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, caught five bass weighing 4 pounds, 14 ounces and collected $24,000 for sixth place.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 12 finishers at the 2005 FLW Championship at Lake Hamilton:
7th: J.T. Kenney of Frostburg, Md., five bass, 4-13, $23,000
8th: Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., four bass, 4-12, $22,000
9th: Robert Karbas Jr. of Wake Forest, N.C., three bass, 4-3, $21,000
10th: Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas, four bass, 3-2, $20,000
11th: Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., three bass, 3-2, $19,000
12th: Chip Harrison of Bremen, Ind., two bass, 2-1, $18,000
Catch all the action
Coverage of the
Forrest L. Wood Championship will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net on the
“FLW Outdoors” television program. Part 1 of the championship will air
Sunday, Aug. 7, at 11 a.m. Eastern time, and Part 2 will air the
following Sunday, Aug. 14, also at 11 a.m. Eastern.