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"Fishing in my first ever Tour event, I never expected this," said Benton, whose previous high finish was a 14th-place effort in EverStart competition on Lake Seminole. "I have to pay my entry fees all on my own, so this is such a big step for me. Now I can actually relax and fish for the rest of the year and not have to worry about just making a check."
Like Saturday, Sunday's fishing conditions were windy and tough. Benton made several runs back and forth to areas in
South Bay and Turners Cove and burned through ¾ of a tank of gas by scrambling to try and catch enough weight.
"It was such a grind," Benton said. "I started the day in
South Bay, then went to Turners. Nothing was happening there, so I went back to
South Bay and checked it again. I fished there for three hours and was only able to catch two keepers. So, I ran back to Turners and was able to finish out a small limit. I didn't catch my limit of fish until
1:45 p.m. I told the camera man that I had to run and try and catch a big one. So I made the run back down to
South Bay, and that's when I got the kicker."
Benton said the kicker – a 7-pound
Okeechobee behemoth – came while throwing an entirely different bait than he had used all week.
"I had thrown a PGM Lures bladed swimjig all day and not had one bite on it," Benton said. "I decided to try a Hildebrandt white and gold-bladed spinnerbait, and it bit."