BAY MINETTE — Adam Ross and Matt Thornton have had days when they caught more bass, but never one where the bites paid off as big as they did on Saturday, March 1.
Ross and Thornton won the first-ever Alabama Bass Trail South Division tournament with a five-bass limit that weighed 15.24 pounds. They had only seven bites in the tournament, that we staged out of Live Oak Landing Park on the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta.
Ross and Thornton, who earned $10,000 for their win.
Duke Miller and Jeffrey Russell finished second with 15.10 pounds and won $5,000. Barry McLain and John Wiggins were third with 14.83 pounds and won $4,000.
Ross and Thornton, both of Tibbie, Ala.,used a variety of baits to catch their fish, including one similar to what Randy Howell used earlier in the week to win the Bassmaster Classic on Lake Gunterville.
Thornton said Howell’s success in the Classic using a Livingston Lures prototype bait, prompted him to try a black and chartreuse Livingston crankbait in the Alabama Bass Trail event.
“I had been thinking about using some Livingston baits down here,” Thornton said. “Then when Randy won the Classic, I decided to go ahead and tie one on and give it a try.”
That crankbait, along with Zoom lizards and War Eagle jigs and finding some clear water draining from ditches into the Tombigbee River were keys to Ross and Thorton’s victory.
“We found some water that was just the right mix of muddy and clear,” Ross said. “There were not a lot of fish there, but the ones we found there were good ones.”
Ross and Thornton found their fish 40 to 45 miles up the Tombigbee.
Although they have fished together for years, the win was the richest ever for Ross and Thornton.
Ross said he and Thornton are going to invest part of their winnings into entry fees for more tournaments. Thornton quipped they will use some of the money to purchase more Livingston Lures baits.
Ross said the Alabama Bass Trail tournament has spawned excitement among south Alabama anglers like he has never seen before.
“I saw people fishing this tournament that I had not seen on the water in years,” Ross said. “Ten thousands dollars is a lot of money for winning an amateur bass tournament. The purse and how well these tournaments are run have a lot of folks excited down here. I only see these tournaments getting bigger and bigger.”
Tommy Parker and Joey Smith with 14.53 pounds and John Keyser and Kevin Carpenter with 13.59 pounds rounded out the top five.
Brian Graham and Joey Weaver, Justin Hamner and Chris Payne, Josh Aaron and Derrick Roberts, Jeston Anderson and Robbie Robinson, Bobby Rieben and Charles Stacks.