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Thrift clips locals at Big O Using the Chatterbait with new EZ SkirtTM

North Carolina rookie pro sacks 22-7 in Stren Series opener to top Lane brothers


Check out these Okeechobee giants! These two bass enabled Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., to win the Southeastern Stren Series on Lake Okeechobee. (Photo by Rob Newell)


By Rob Newell - 07.Jan.2006

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. This time last year, young Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., fished his first Stren Series event as a co-angler on Lake Okeechobee and finished 11th.

Then he went to the next Stren Series (formerly EverStart Series) Southeast Division event on Santee Cooper in March and won it.

Thrift traveled to the third event of the season at Lake Eufaula and won again, collecting unprecedented back-to-back co-angler wins in the Stren Series.

He finished the season with a 69th-place finish at West Point and a second in the Southeast points race; Thrift decided it was time to step up to the pro side in 2006.

Today, on the Stren Series stage in the Wal-Mart parking lot, Bryan Thrift, fishing his first event as a pro, found himself locked up squarely between the local Lane brothers Bobby and Arnie.

Arnie Lane had just weighed in an impressive 16 pounds, 14 ounces to take the lead.
Pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., wins the Southeast Division Stren Series on Lake Okeechobee with a two-day total of 36-9. Whispers among locals in the crowd indicated that Bobby Lane had a big sack, too. It looked to be a showdown between the Lane brothers.

But not before a shy Thrift took the stage and dropped 22 pounds, 7 ounces on the scales, anchored by two giant bass, both in the 8- to 9-pound class.

Thrift knocked Arnie off the lead, and then Bobby mounted a crowd-rousing charge with 18 pounds, 9 ounces but it wasnt enough. Bobby Lane came up just 5 ounces short of his first Stren Series win and Thrift won his third Stren Series title in just five tournaments.

For the record, Thrift amassed a two-day total of 36 pounds, 9 ounces for the win.

I must be nervous or cold, because I cant quit shaking, Thrift told the crowd with a trembling voice after he was declared the winner. I cant believe this is happening.

Could the Chatterbait be the next hot item on Lake Okeechobee? Here's a look at Bryan Thrift's battle-scarred Chatterbaits.For four days, Thrift fished a 3/8-ounce Chatterbait (made by Rad Lures in South Carolina) with the revolutionary new EZ SkirtTM in various colors in the Moonshine Bay area of Okeechobee. He fished the bait on 30-pound-test braided line.

Thrift targeted a mix of hydrilla and reeds with the unique swimming jig that features a bill-like blade in the front, which produces an erratic action.

The best places were where the reed line and hydrilla created a seam, Thrift explained. There were holes and gaps in the hydrilla where it met the reeds, and thats where all my big bites came from. Id swim the Chatterbait over the holes, kind of slow-rolling it, ripping it and pausing it over each hole thats when the big ones would crush it.

Thrift also noted that all his big fish came first thing in the morning each day.

The big-fish bite was definitely early, he said. Last night, I told my friends that if I didnt have a big one by 8:30, it would be over for me.

This morning, Thrift did not have a big bite by 8:30. In fact, he didnt have any bites by 8:30.

By nine o clock, I thought I was toast, he said. Then I made a little move across the bay and caught both of my big ones within 10 minutes those were my first two fish.

Thrift collected a fully rigged Ranger Boat plus $10,000 for his win. Needless to say, it looks like FLW Outdoors has a new fishing phenom on its hands.

 

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