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Rookie Benton Wins Walmart FLW Tour Season Opener On Lake Okeechobee Presented By Mercury

CLEWISTON, Fla., Feb. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Twenty-four year-old rookie Drew Benton of Panama City, Fla., was fishing in his first event as a professional this week and caught a 7-pound kicker bass with only seven minutes to spare to win the Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee presented by Mercury on Sunday. That fish pushed Benton's day 4 weight to 13 pounds, 4 ounces and his total four-day weight to 75 pounds, 7 ounces and was enough to best 174 of the top bass anglers in the world to earn him a $100,000 paycheck. Finishing in second place was Keystone Light pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., who weighed in 20 bass totaling 70 pounds, 8 ounces.

Link to photo of pro winner Drew Benton

"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."

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