BAY MINETTE, AL — Matt Thornton and Adam Ross rode a rollercoaster of emotion Saturday en route to victory in the inaugural tournament for the Alabama Bass Trail Tournament Series’ South Division.
The tournament was held out of the newly renovated Live Oak Landing Park.
Thornton and Ross thought their chances of winning the tournament were over when they lost a largemouth bass, they estimated to weigh about 4.5 pounds.
“I couldn’t believe we lost it right at the boat. It just made us sick,” Thorton said.
Thorton and Ross quickly found a way to overcome that sick feeling, They caught more bass.
“We were lucky,” Thornton said. “They kept biting and we didn’t lose any more.
Thonrton and Ross, both of Tibbie, Ala. weighed in five largemouth bass that tipped the scales at 15.24 pounds to clinch the $10,000 first prize.
Thorton and Ross caught their fish on the Tombigbee River.
They used a variety of baits, including square-billed crankbaits, plastic lizards and jigs.
“We did a lot of running and ripping,” Ross said.
Duke Miller and Jeffrey Russell, both of Saraland, Ala., finished second with four bass that weighed 15.10 pounds.
Miller and Russell also lost a fish, which they estimated to weigh around 5 pounds.
“We knew losing that one was going to hurt us,” Russell said “We tried and tried to catch another fish, even a small one, to have a limit.”
Miller and Russell, who were fishing on the Alabama River, won $5,000.
John Wiggins of Daphne, Ala., and Barry McLain Bay Minette were third with 14.83 pounds. They won $4,000
Tommy Parker of Saraland and Joey Smith of Millry, Ala., finished fouth with 14.53 pounds. Jason Kyser of Saraland and Kevin Carpenter of Madison, Miss. Finished fifth with 13.59 pounds.
Justin Hamner of Harpersville, Ala., and Chris Payne of West Blocton, Ala., had the big fish for the tournament, a 5.40-pounds largemouth. They won $500.
The anglers in the tournament weighed-in 379 bass, which weighed 656.21 pounds for an average weight of 1.73 pounds. Of the 160 teams in the tournament, 123 weighed-in fish.
All of the fish weighed in were returned to water alive. Both of the Alabama Bass Trail tournaments held so far have had a 100 percent survival rate.
The next stop on the Alabama Bass Trail South Division is Saturday, March 15 on Lake Eufaula.
The next stop on the Bass Trail’s North Division is March 22 on Pickwick Lake.