FLIPPIN, Ark. (January 15, 2019) - Ranger Boats Pro Terry Bolton brought in a total of 91 pounds, 3 ounces, to win the FLW Tour season opener at Sam Rayburn, January 14. The victory marks Bolton's first FLW Tour win after competitively fishing the tour since its inception. Bolton won the $100,000 first-place prize along with an additional $25,000 in Ranger Cup winnings.
After contemplating retirement after a dismal 2018 season, Bolton received encouragement from his wife to take it up one more year and to just try and have a good time.
"I had one of the worst seasons professionally," said Bolton. "I really didn't give it my best effort. My wife told me to go out and do what I love to do, and that's what I did. After 23 years of doing this, I think sometimes you can not enjoy the moment. I really enjoyed this one and will savor it for long time."
Bolton returned to Rayburn after a several-year hiatus and brought along his past experience on fishing the Texas lake when water levels were high and knew what to look for during the competition.
"I had been here when the water was high," said Bolton. "I knew I wanted to look for inside and outside hydrilla grass lines. I went back to some old areas where I used to catch them 15 to 20 years ago and didn't really find what I was looking for. I caught three keepers and none of them were doing the same thing."
The angler put in near the bridge on day two of pre-fishing a located a couple of inside areas holding quality fish. Bolton made thesehis first stops during each day of the competition. Finding a few other locations gave Bolton an idea that he could have a decent tournament, but a serendipitous troll over a grass line would eventually prove key to winning.
"I went back onto that creek that I spent all of day two scouting and was idling along this hydrilla line and there was a void in the grass where it stopped growing," said Bolton. "I looked at that void on my Humminbird unit and there were dots all in that clear area. I knew I found something and had a pretty good feeling but, lo and behold, I didn't know I would catch a 33-pound stringer there on day two."
Bolton spent the early morning on his first hole where he quickly boated a limit before moving on to other promising locations. Each day, the angler found himself revisiting the void where he would cull out his original limit each day. Day one, Bolton weighed a respectable 20-pound, 10-ounce, limit, but really wowed the weigh-in crowd on day two with 33 pounds, 9 ounce.
Going into day three with a near 6-pound lead, Bolton continued with his pattern and hit up the same locales.
"I knew I had a lead but I didn't know how that would hold up," said Bolton. "After I caught 33 pounds, I had a lot of people watching me. The place started to get more attention from the local anglers. It was becoming evident it was starting to slow down. I had to focus on not fumbling the ball and feather my lead to win."
Bolton weighed 19 pounds, 10 ounces, on the third day and retained the lead by 4-plus pounds.
"I knew I had some really good fishermen chasing me and I would have to catch good fish to win," said Bolton. "I felt I had to catch 17 to 19 pounds to have a chance. I only caught 17 and needed every ounce. It was a pretty stressful time until it was all over."
The angler's 17 pounds, 6 ounces, was enough to beat the hard-charging Nick Lebrun, who finished just 12 ounces out of the lead. Bolton relied on Rapala DT crankbaits - a DT10, DT14 and DT16 - along with a ¾-ounce Accent spinnerbait. Along with crediting his tackle, Bolton relied heavily on his Ranger for his first ever FLW Tour win.
"You got enough things to worry about when it comes to bass tournaments," said Bolton. "I always like to have the variables you can control taken care of, and Ranger controls some of that for me by building a great boat. The quality, dependability and the fishability of a Ranger boat is what I have always said puts them apart. Once you drop that trolling motor, you learn a lot about a boat. It tracks well, stays straight and is a great stable platform to fish from and that was big this weekend."
Getting the first win of the season can do wonders for an angler's confidence. With a refreshed view on professional fishing, Bolton is looking forward to the rest of the season.
"I am still kind of in shock," said Bolton. "I've had a lot of seconds, thirds and fourths, to finally get the win was really big for me. It kind of solidifies you in the sport after you win an event. A lot of people have reached out. There are so many calls and texts that I can't respond to them all. It makes me feel good to see how happy people are for me."
About Ranger Boats
Headquartered in Flippin, Ark., Ranger Boats is the nation's premier manufacturer of legendary fiberglass and aluminum fishing boats, with acclaimed models and series in the bass, multi-species, fish 'n play, saltwater, waterfowl utility and pontoon boat segments. Founded in 1968 by Forrest L. Wood, Ranger Boats continues its commitment to building the highest-quality, strongest-performing boats on the water. For more information, go to RangerBoats.com.