Fort Mill Times

Shelby, NC, pro wins $125,000 in Walmart FLW Tour event

Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., caught enough weight to earn the fourth victory of his career and $125,000 in the May 17 Walmart FLW Tour event in Alabama.
Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., caught enough weight to earn the fourth victory of his career and $125,000 in the May 17 Walmart FLW Tour event in Alabama. FLW OUTDOORS

Thrift wins $125,000 in FLW tourney

The Walmart FLW Tour event at Lake Eufaula presented by Quaker State promised a dramatic finish May 17 as all of the final top-10 anglers competing on the final day were within striking distance of first place and the title of Lake Eufaula Champion. When the scales settled, it was veteran pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., who caught enough weight to earn the fourth victory of his career.

Thrift’s final-day catch of five bass weighing 15 pounds, 5 ounces gave him a four-day total of 69-14 and the win by a 2-pound, 15-ounce margin over day three leader Troy Morrow of Eastanollee, Ga. Thrift beat out 149 of the best bass-fishing anglers in the world and claimed the first place prize of $125,000.

“I wanted to win this tournament worse than I have ever wanted to win one in my life,” said Thrift, who pushed his career earnings to more than $1.6 million in FLW competition. “Lake Eufaula is my favorite lake and I absolutely love coming here because it fits well with my style of fishing. I like to run and gun, make three casts, then pull up and go somewhere else. And there are a lot of big fish here. I finished second in the last two major Tour events here so I wanted to win on this lake very badly.

“I fished harder this week than I ever have before,” he said. “I put 30 hours in three days of practice on my new Evinrude G2 outboard. I sat on my butt for three days just idling and looking and marking – not even fishing. I had around 200 waypoints coming in to this tournament and I was just hoping that I would be able to fish them and come across five good ones each day. The key for me was just covering a lot of water and fishing as much as I possibly could.”

After catching a 7-pounder on day one, a 6½-pounder on day two and two 5-pounders on day three, Thrift seemed to be on the big fish pattern necessary to methodically work his way to the top of the leaderboard. Despite his lack of a kicker on Sunday, Thrift said he still managed to grind out eight keepers on an unnamed swimbait and a frog, to seal the win.

“I figured someone would catch a big limit today and that I didn’t have enough to win,” Thrift said. “I never got that big bite today like I had been all week, but I can’t complain. I’ve had an awesome week.”

Thrift’s win moved him up to second place in the 2015 FLW Tour Angler of the Year race with just two tournaments left. According to Thrift’s bio at, he enjoys fishing docks and counts Lake Wylie as his favorite body of water.

Overall there were 49 bass weighing 124 pounds, 7 ounces caught by pros Sunday. Nine professionals weighed in five-bass limits.

For a complete schedule, visit

Money available for wildlife projects

Qualifying government agencies and nonprofit organizations wanting to enhance, create and protect fish and wildlife habitats along the Catawba-Wateree River and its tributaries are encouraged to submit applications for grants provided by Duke Energy’s Catawba-Wateree Habitat Enhancement Program.

CWHEP is a cooperative effort by Duke Energy, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The program is funded annually from a fee charged to individuals and residential marina developers seeking permits to build piers on the Catawba-Wateree lakes. The Foundation for the Carolinas administers the funds.

Projects eligible include planting native shoreline vegetation, constructing osprey platforms and wood duck boxes, and installing fish attractors, to purchasing property and conservation easements along the Catawba-Wateree River that permanently preserve rare and unique habitats.

Applications are at Deadline is July 31.

Class held monthly at Lake Wylie

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary holds a boating safety course 9 a.m.-5 p.m. the third Saturday of every month at River Hills Marina conference center.

About Boating Safely covers all aspects of boating. A safe boating course is required for boat operators born after Jan. 1, 1988, and is recommended for everyone.

For more information or to register, call 704-588-1678 or email

Boating safety classes scheduled

The York County Sheriff’s Office Lake Enforcement Unit and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources have scheduled boating safety courses to be held 9 a.m.-5 p.m. June 20 and July 18 at the Law Enforcement Training Center, 92 Stoneybrook Drive, York.

There is no charge for the class. The minimum age for participants is 12. Instructors suggest bringing a No. 2 pencil, a highlighter pen, plus snacks and a beverage.

To register for the class, visit

DNR offers boating virtual trainer

The next time you're at an outdoor event, keep an eye out for the new Boating Skills Virtual Trainer. The trainer is a partnership between the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and Pioneer Boats.

With the assistance of Pioneer Boats, DNR was able to place three 32-inch screens on a center console boat, mounted inside a trailer, for a virtual boating experience. Steering, throttle and other controls are like those found on a real boat.

The instructor has the ability to tailor the student's experience by adjusting wind and current strength to day/night scenarios. The simulator offers learning platforms through which students they can learn about docking, mooring, pivot turns and more on a virtual waterway free from the hazards that can occur on the water.