SUMMERTON - More than 340 pros and co-anglers are set to compete April 5-7 at the Costa FLW Series at Santee Cooper lakes presented by Bass Pro Shops.
The tournament is the third and final regular-season tournament scheduled in the FLW Series Southeastern Division. Hosted by Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce, the event will feature anglers competing for a top award of up to $89,000, including a brand-new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard.
"This is going to be a really good tournament, and it could be absolutely phenomenal," said FLW Tour pro Bryan Thrift, who won when the FLW Series last visited Santee Cooper in 2016. "With the way the weather is warming up, and the full moon next week, it could be a perfect storm. It's setting up to be an absolute slugfest."
When the FLW Series anglers competed at Santee Cooper in 2016, 16 five-bass limits were weighed in excess of 25 pounds, with three limits weighing more than 30 pounds. Thrift said that he expects the same thing this time around.
"The best thing about the Santee Cooper lakes is that you can catch giants anywhere," Thrift said. "We're definitely going to see multiple 30-pound bags. It's not like one lake is better than the other or one end of the lake is better. There are big fish to be caught everywhere, on the whole system."
Thrift predicted that the bass would be in their prespawn and spawning patterns, with a large majority of the largemouth on beds. He suggested that Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits, ChatterBaits and soft stickworms, like a Damiki Stinger, would all play a big role for tournament anglers.
"I think the key is going to be finding fresh fish that are just coming up - staging to move shallow," Thrift said. "I would say that a three-day total of 78 to 84 pounds will win."
Anglers will take off from the John C. Land III Landing, 4404 Greenall Road in Summerton, at 7 a.m. each day of competition. Weigh-ins will also be held at the landing and will begin at 3 p.m. each day. All takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
In Costa FLW Series regular-season competition, payouts are based on the number of participants competing in the event. At Santee Cooper, pros will fish for a top prize of $89,000, including a brand-new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup qualified.
Co-anglers will cast for a brand-new Ranger Z175 boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup qualified.
The Costa FLW Series consists of five U.S. divisions - Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western - along with the International division. Each U.S. division consists of three regular-season tournaments with competitors vying for valuable points that could earn them the opportunity to compete in the season-ending Costa FLW Series Championship. The 2018 Costa FLW Series Championship is being held Nov. 1-3 on Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Alabama, and is hosted by the Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
For complete details and updated information, visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Costa FLW Series on FLW's social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.
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