Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons
The most consistent angler all week, Patrick Walters wins the National Professional Fishing League stop number three on Santee Cooper Lakes with a total weight of 67 pounds, 12 ounces. Walters caught 22 pounds, 8 ounces on day one, 24 pounds even on day two, and a final round weight of 21 pounds, 4 ounces to seal his second NPFL victory in two years.
Go fishing and have fun. That was the mentality of Patrick Walters on his home body of water where being stubborn has cost him some good finishes in the past.
“It worked out,” said Walters. I knew the weather was going to affect us out here and I played it smart and didn’t run around like I could have. Typically, you do things on your home pond and I was not going to let that happen this week.”
Walters mixed up his approach on day one to get off to a good start but key adjustments on days two and three put him in a position to redeem himself after a tough Elite Series event earlier this spring.
“I fished mainly offshore and caught mostly post-spawn bass. Some came off brim beds but the last two days were all about the brush,” added Walters. “When the little things go right, that makes all the difference. I fished clean this week and landed some fish that had one treble hook; that is the difference in winning these bigger events.”
With a short turnaround before his next professional event, being successful on a lake he knows so much about will help his confidence going into the second half of the NPFL season.
“It feels pretty darn good; I am not going to lie,” he concluded. “Coming off the lowest of lows and a really bad event, having that good finish gets me back into it. I made the right calls, lost no fish and that was the difference.”
Walters takes home $100,000 and the National Professional Fishing League shield for his efforts this week on Santee Cooper.
Making a run for his first NPFL victory, Todd Goade finished the event on Santee Cooper Lakes in the second-place spot with a three-day total of 62 pounds, 2 ounces. Goade caught 18 pounds, 14 ounces on day one, 22 pounds on day two, and a final day weight of 21 pounds, 4 ounces for his highest finish with the NPFL.
Goade had located several productive areas in practice and continued to dial in his approach each day. With lots of excellent-looking cypress trees all over, he learned that the best trees had 3 or more feet of water on them.
“I found so many really good-looking trees but they were in 2 feet. I never got bit on any of those, and they were all on the 3-foot trees,” said Goade. “I also learned that the big fish were on the right side of the trees, and every fish I caught was sitting on that side and my line would swim out away from it.”
Goade did his work this week without forward-facing sonar and mainly relied on 2D sonar and mapping to keep in the right areas and depth and avoid extra sonar pinging to spook fish.
“I love forward-facing sonar, but I didn’t need it here and anything you can do to avoid spooking the bass is helpful,” he said. “Rather than potentially spook any fish, I just left it off all week.”
Goade is having a great season with the NPFL logging 10th place, 5th place, and now a 2nd place finish. Except for Reams, he is one to watch for as the Progressive Angler of the Year and championship becomes more in the picture.
“I am having a great year,” he added. “Looking bigger picture, the AOY and the championship, you want to keep the momentum going and keep making good decisions. Fishing is all highs and lows, and when you’re riding high, you have to ride the wave, or ‘keep rolling the hot dice’ as I like to say.”
Starting the day in second place, Will Harkins caught 11 pounds, 14 ounces on day three to finish the event with a total weight of 55 pounds, 1 ounce. Harkins caught 20 pounds, 4 ounces on day one and 22 pounds, 15 ounces on day two, and with one bass shy of a limit on the final day, his brush pile pattern was enough to remain in the top five in the third-place spot.
“All my offshore timber and brush fizzled on me today but I was able to run some midrange brush piles and catch them today,” said Harkins. “I was also fishing some eel grass clumps and caught a few. 95% of this event I was staring at my Garmin Livescope; it was really fun.”
This week was the first time he had fished Santee Cooper and his highest NPFL finish is a great outcome.
“I was questioning this one coming in as I had never seen this lake, but I will take it,” he added. “I kind of wish today went better for me but I am happy with my finish and look forward to getting up North to Saginaw Bay.”
With a three-day total weight of 53 pounds, 14 ounces, Timmy Reams, the Progressive Angler of the Year leader, did what he has done all season and found a way to stay consistent for three days. He added 16 pounds on the final day to his day one weight of 16 pounds, 6 ounces, and day two weight of 21 pounds, 8 ounces, and finishes the event in fourth place.
Coming into day one after a tough practice, Reams was not sure what to expect. After day one and seeing other guys in the top ten fishing around him, he knew the quality bass were in his area and settled down.
“On day two, I knew there were good ones and I focused on getting five bites and upgraded as much as I could,” said Reams. “Today, I told myself to go out and catch five fishing the grass and then try to catch a few key fish to upgrade.”
One of eight anglers who weighed in a five fish limit each day, Reams did what he had to do to stay atop the points race and collected yet another top ten check. This week, his focus was on grass with a spinnerbait and chatterbait and then moving to the trees to upgrade.
“I was flipping and pitching a wacky rig on the timber but it got tough with the wind,” he added. “I had to find new trees each day and it all worked out for me this week.”
On the AOY race, Reams is going to take one event at a time and take advantage when the opportunity knocks.
“You try not to think about the points, but you definitely have to plan around it. You have to pick your battles and catch fish to stay in the hunt, but also, I am fishing to win each event,” he concluded.
After catching just 13-pounds, 9 ounces on day one, Kevin Martin added 20 pounds, 13 ounces on day two and 18-pounds, 11 ounces on day three to finish in the fifth-place spot with a three-day total weight of 53-pounds, 1 ounce.
Rest of the best:
Darrel Robertson 51-0
Jesse Wise 50-15
Matt Massey 47-10
John Cox (FL) 47-1
Brad Staley 46-8