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
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
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. 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 wasn’t 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
“I must be nervous or cold, because I can’t quit shaking,” Thrift told the
crowd with a trembling voice after he was declared the winner. “I can’t
believe this is happening.”
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 that’s where all my big bites came from. I’d swim the Chatterbait
over the holes, kind of slow-rolling it, ripping it and pausing it over each
hole – that’s when the big ones would crush it.”
Thrift also noted that all his big fish came first thing in the morning each
“The big-fish bite was definitely early,” he said. “Last night, I told my
friends that if I didn’t 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 didn’t 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