Pro Trevor Fitzgerald of Belleview, Florida, brought a 19-pound, 8-ounce limit to the weigh-in scale Saturday to reclaim the top spot on the leaderboard and win the three-day Toyota Series at the St. Johns River. Fitzgerald’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 57-12 gave him the win by a 6-pound margin and earned him a payout of $38,048 in the Toyota Series Southern Division 2020 opener.
“I’ve been wanting this one for a while,” said Fitzgerald, who earned his first career Toyota Series victory after five previous top-10 finishes. “I seem to do okay in one-day tournaments, but I excel in these multi-day tournaments because I don’t typically go out and catch a giant bag. I usually find stuff that is more consistent.”
“On day two I didn’t have any spawners left, so I went to running the bank and found a little depression that I’d known about, but I came to realize there was a lot more fish sitting in it than I realized.”
What Fitzgerald was fishing was basically a long sand bar at the far south end of Lake George, which served as a staging area for fish coming to the bank to spawn. No one else seemed to find it, potentially due to how shallow it was.
“It’s just a depression surrounded by super-shallow water. I used to put in at that boat ramp right there when I was a kid, so I was kind of familiar with the way the bottom lays out.”
Fitzgerald caught his fish on a shaky-head rig tipped with a Reaction Innovations Pocket Rocket in black and blue, which he threw on a Fitzgerald Stunner spinning rod and spinning reel and 12-pound-test Fitzgerald Vursa fluorocarbon. Prior to that, he was mostly dragging a black and blue Reaction Innovations Machete on a 7-foot, 3-inch, medium-heavy Fitzgerald Stunner casting rod paired with a Fitzgerald Stunner casting reel (7:1) and 17-pound-test Fitzgerald Vursa fluorocarbon.
“I grew up about 20 minutes from the south end of Lake George, and I’ve been fishing here my whole life,” Fitzgerald went on to say. “I love fishing the St. Johns River and it is awesome to win here.”
The top 10 pros on the St. Johns River finished:
1st: Trevor Fitzgerald of Belleview, Fla., 15 bass, 57-12, $38,048
2nd: Jason Blair of West Palm Beach, Fla., 15 bass, 51-12, $14,550
3rd: Steven Hatala of Harrison Township, Mich., 13 bass, 50-6, $11,265
4th: Rodney Marks of Apopka, Fla., 15 bass, 45-0, $9,387
5th: Keith Carson of DeBary, Fla., 15 bass, 43-6, $8,833
6th: Jacopo Gallelli, Florence, Italy, 12 bass, 38-8, $8,510
7th: Jonathan Kelley of Old Forge, Pa., 12 bass, 37-12, $6,571
8th: Frank Kitchens III of Oxford, Ga., 11 bass, 37-8, $5,632
9th: Jason Meninger of St. Augustine, Fla., 12 bass, 36-3, $4,694
10th: Chris Hensley of Marbury, Ala., 10 bass, 33-11, $3,755
A complete list of results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Carson brought a 9-pound largemouth bass to the scale Friday – the largest fish weighed by a boater in the event – to earn the day’s Big Bass award of $135.
Gallelli took home an extra $1,000 as the highest finishing FLW PHOENIX BONUS member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $35,000 per event in each Toyota Series tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the FLW PHOENIX BONUS contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.
Edwin Bartlett of Casco, Maine, won the Co-angler Division Saturday with a three-day total of 12 bass weighing 29 pounds, 12 ounces. For his win, Bartlett took home the top prize package of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard motor, worth $33,500.
The top 10 co-anglers on the St. Johns River finished:
1st: Edwin Bartlett of Casco, Maine, 12 bass, 29-12, $33,500
2nd: Cole Hewett of Orlando, Fla., 14 bass, 28-8, $4,929
3rd: Blaine Bucy of Weirton, W. Va., eight bass, 25-13, $3,783
4th: Roger Hughes of Bartlesville, Okla., eight bass, 25-12, $3,400
5th: David Wareham of Port St. Lucie, Fla., 12 bass, 25-11, $2,837
6th: Chris Holland of Vero Beach, Fla., 11 bass, 22-1, $2,364
7th: Andy Niles of Ocean Springs, Miss., 11 bass, 20-9, $1,891
8th: Kevin Thomas of Miramar, Fla., eight bass, 19-11, $1,655
9th: Early Whitaker of Iron City, Ga., 11 bass, 18-13, $1,419
10th: Michael Harrelson of Conway, S.C., nine bass, 18-5, $1,182
Alan Carver of East Point, Georgia caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Co-angler Division Thursday, a fish weighing 9 pounds, 8 ounces. He earned the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $90.
The Toyota Series at the St. Johns River was hosted by the Putnam County Tourist Development Council. It was the first of three regular-season tournaments in 2020 for Southern Division anglers. The next tournament for Toyota Series anglers will be the Central Division opener – the Toyota Series at Lake Chickamauga, held Feb. 27-29 in Dayton, Tennessee. For a complete schedule, visit FLWFishing.com.
The Toyota Series consists of eight divisions – Central, Eastern, Northern, Plains, Southeastern, Southern, Southwestern and Western – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International division. Anglers who fish all three qualifiers in any of the eight divisions and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning $200,000 cash, plus lucrative contingency bonuses. The winning co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard. The 2020 Toyota Series Championship is being held Nov. 5-7 on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Kentucky, and is hosted by the Somerset Tourist & Convention Commission and the Burnside Tourism Commission.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Toyota Series on FLW’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, FLW and their partners conduct more than 290 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Zimbabwe.
FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. Acquired by Major League Fishing in late 2019, FLW programming expands in 2020 to the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel as well as on-demand at MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). For more information visit FLWFishing.com and follow FLW at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.