Elias Wins FLW Bass Fishing Tournament on the Atchafalaya Basin
MORGAN CITY, La. (Feb. 15, 2003) - Pro Paul Elias of Pachuta, Miss., claimed his first FLW Tour bass fishing tournament victory Saturday on the Atchafalaya Basin with a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 34 pounds, 2 ounces. Elias, a seven-year FLW Tour veteran, earned $100,000 for the win.
Elias started the tournament on a high note, finishing 20th on opening day and following that up Thursday with an eighth-place effort that landed him in the finals. He entered Saturday's competition in the No. 1 spot, a position he never relinquished. Before Saturday, Elias' best FLW Tour finish was a sixth-place showing on Alabama's Lake Eufaula in 1997. He caught his winning bass Saturday on a buzzbait as well as a Mann's spinner bait.
"It's been almost five years since I've won a major tournament, and it starts working on your head," said Elias, who caught his winning bass in a 200-yard-long stretch of grass located at the end of a six-mile long run through extremely shallow water. "I thought maybe I didn't have the mechanics to do this anymore. Everything went well; the Lord smiled on me. This is a sweet victory."
Elias was fishing in an area so tight it barely held two boats. "I had to run some pretty skinny water to get there," he said. "It's an area that held a lot of fish because it was the deepest water for miles. It wasn't very deep, either, but it's what the fish were coming to."
The four-day, $500,000 tournament began Wednesday on the heels of a cold front, but with warming temperatures and sunny skies, Atchafalaya bass began moving to shallower water. Flipping became the technique of choice for most anglers, several of whom caught limits in excess of 15 pounds. The anglers who had the sprawling Louisiana basin figured out by opening day had a clear advantage - all 10 finalists finished in the top 20 on Wednesday, and six finished in the top 10.
Rounding out the top five pros are Bill Chapman of Salt Rock, W. Va. (10 bass, 28 pounds, 1 ounce, $35,000); Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa. (10 bass, 27 pounds, 14 ounces, $20,000); Jimmy Millsaps of Canton, Ga. (10 bass, 26 pounds, 8 ounces, $16,000); and Andre Moore of Scottsdale, Ariz. (10 bass, 25 pounds, $14,000).
Brad Rodrigue of Pierre Part, La., claimed $15,000 Friday as the co-angler winner thanks to a five-bass catch weighing 14 pounds, 3 ounces. He also earned a $500 Wal-Mart gift card from Castrol and $500 worth of Castrol products for the win.
Elias won a $500 Wal-Mart gift card plus a selection of Stanley tools as the winner of the Stanley Accuracy Cast Award, which goes to the angler who pitches a jig closest to a specified target.
One hundred and seventy-five pros and 175 co-anglers kicked off the tournament from the Belle River Boat Launch in Belle River Wednesday and competed for two days for one of 10 final-round spots in their respective divisions. The