Brian Thrift on the Brink of First FLW Cup
Aug 10th, 2019 by Keith Worrall
Modified Aug 10th, 2019 at 8:57 PM
August 11, 2019 by Curtis Niedermier
For the second day in a row, Shelby, N.C., pro Bryan Thrift will go to bed with the lead in the 2019 FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton. Today, Thrift weighed in 12 pounds, 7 ounces for a two-day total of 27-10. He leads Florida pro Kyle Walters by 1 1/2 pounds.
For the most part, the pros who made the top 10 this week seem very confident that the final day could be the best of the week – a slugfest by Hamilton standards. Sunshine makes the bite go at Lake Hamilton this time of year, and there’s sunshine in the forecast.
Thrift is the exception. He isn’t sure what to expect.
For the last two days, Thrift has run all over Hamilton, fishing deep, fishing shallow and having to scrape and claw for every bite. He thinks the fishing pressure has taken its toll, but what makes him most uncomfortable is that he’s not dialed in well enough to know that he can pull up on specific spots and get bit in expected ways.
“I don’t know where I can go catch one,” Thrift says. “I know where to throw, but I don’t know where I can catch one. And I don’t like that.
“Nothing seems to outshine anything else,” he adds. “I’ve caught some on reaction baits. I’ve caught some dragging worms. I’ve caught some on topwater. It’s just kind of a hodgepodge of anything.”
Thrift only had six keeper bites today. The morning bite was really slow for everyone, especially for the leader. He only had two fish by 1 o’clock.
That’s when the former Angler of the Year made a key adjustment.
“I just kind of put my head down and just made myself slow down and milk an area out and finally caught a limit,” he says.
“You mess with your own head [when it’s tough]. Like today, when it got later in the day, I still only had two fish. I started almost getting in panic mode, and I had to calm down and think, look, you don’t have to catch all the fish in the lake. You just have to catch five. Even if you don’t catch five, if you catch two good ones you’re going to be in good shape. I just had to keep telling myself that – slow down, fish what you want to fish, fish it thoroughly, don’t rush it.”
Today, Thrift spent 70 percent of his time fishing offshore brush, and the rest tossing topwater up shallow. The topwater bite never really happened for him today. All the fish he weighed in came from brush.
The only thing he can figure for tomorrow is that he’ll have to catch at least one good shallow fish on topwater to hold off the crew behind him. Walters is dialed on deep brush. Dakota Ebare, in third, has a unique shallow pattern. They know where and how they’ll catch them, especially with sun in the forecast.
“I have no idea what it’s going to do,” Thrift says about the sunshine. “I don’t see how it could hurt anymore than what today did. I caught one of my better fish during the sunshine in the later part of the day, but I don’t know if the sun made it bite or I just pulled up on the right brush pile at the right time.
“I’m gonna have a full deck of rods again tomorrow, and that’s about all I know how to do.”
Of course, running and gunning with a deck full of rods is classic Bryan Thrift. This is the time of year and the type of tough tournament where he shines. He’s also one of the best ever at running a lake full of waypoints and plucking big fish out of deep brush.
So while Thrift isn’t sure how it’ll go tomorrow, everyone watching on FLW Live can be sure that he’s got the best chance in his career of finally winning the FLW Cup and adding the one major FLW title that has thus far eluded him.
Top 10 pros
1. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 27-10 (10)
2. Kyle Walters – Grant Valkaria, Fla. – 26-2 (10)
3. Dakota Ebare – Denham Springs, La. – 24-7 (10)
4. Jeremy Lawyer – Sarcoxie, Mo. – 24-6 (10)
5. Scott Martin – Clewiston, Fla. – 22-10 (10)
6. Austin Felix – Eden Prairie, Minn. – 22-9 (10)
7. Jordan Osborne – Longview, Texas – 22-6 (10)
8. Ryan Salzman – Huntsville, Ala. – 21-14 (10)
9. Joseph Webster – Winfield, Ala. – 21-14 (10)
10. Josh Douglas – Isle, Minn. – 21-0 (10)