Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 03/31/2013

Story by Matt Pangrac - Winner details and photos courtesy of PAA Communications

Dandridge, TN - The first PAA Tournament Series of the 2013 season on Tennessee’s Douglas Lake turned into an umbrella rig slugfest, as the top three finishers all slung the rig to finish at the top of the leaderboard.  

The three-day tournament opened on Thursday with Timmy Horton and local favorite, Ott DeFoe, each toting massive limits across the PAA weigh-in stage surpassing the 27-pound mark.  Horton fell off the pace on day two, but DeFoe held strong, bringing in 21.89 pounds on Friday to take a 4.63 pound lead over Shin Fukae heading into the final day of competition.  

On Saturday, DeFoe managed to catch just two keepers, opening the door for Fukae.  The Texas pro displayed remarkable consistency over the course of the tournament, bringing in limits weighing 22.02, 22.55, and 23.16 pounds on his way to victory with a totally weight of 67.73 pounds.   Fukae edged 2nd place finisher, Andy Morgan, by just over a pound.   

With the win, Fukae collected $5,000 cash along with a Nitro Z-8 powered by Mercury Pro XS 225 valued at $40,000.   

Throughout the tournament, Fukae rotated between a handful of spots on the lower end of Douglas Lake.  He targeted bass that were feeding on schools of small shad, and relied on an umbrella rig made by Megabass called the Spark Rig. He experimented with larger swimbaits, but eventually got keyed in with Megabass Spark Shad around 4” in length.

5 Final Day Facts from Douglas Lake:  
Tournament: PAA Tournament Series (March 28-30)
Location:  Douglas Lake – Dandridge, Tennessee 
Winner:  Shin Fukae (22.02, 22.55, 23.16: 67.73)
2nd place weight: Andy Morgan (66.65)
Total weight separating 1st place from 2nd place: (1.08)

2nd Place: Andy Morgan (20.46, 23.34, 22.85: 66.65)
What were your expectations heading into the day?
“I thought that I would catch them, but I thought that my only shot to win the tournament would be if I found a way to put together a bag like Timmy Horton had on the first day with over 27-pounds.  

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“I really just ran around a lot.  One of the things that I think helped me this week a whole bunch is the fact that I don’t know the lake and I probably haven’t been on the lake in about 20 years.  I fished new water each and every day of the tournament.  I just went fishing and that was the biggest benefit to me the entire week. 

What were your primary baits and tactics?
“It turned into an Alabama Rig tournament for me where I would just run from point to point and throw it.  I caught all of my fish on the first day throwing a War Eagle jig in deep water over 20 feet. 

“On the second day, I picked The Alabama Rig up at 1:00 and put over 23-pounds in the boat.  I knew after the first day when a lot of guys just ransacked the fish, the only way I could possibly catch up was to throw that Alabama Rig. The actual rig that I was using was called a Tip Rig that a buddy of mine makes. It’s basically just a standard umbrella rig.”   

Was there a key moment for you during the tournament?
“The key moment of the tournament for me was when I caught 20-pounds on a jig on the first day and I finished the day in 12th place.  I came to the weigh-in scales and was like, ‘Holy cow, I’m going to have to do something different.’  I knew after the first day that I wouldn’t even have a shot at winning the tournament if I just kept bringing in 20-pound limits and didn’t find a way to improve.”  

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
“My execution was really good, but I think that I made a big mistake yesterday.  There’s a 20-inch length minimum on smallmouth bass on Douglas Lake, and that’s a pretty big fish.  My weigh-in on Friday was at 4:15, and I caught a big smallmouth at 4:03.   My bump board only went to 18-inches, and this fish just ate up the board and was hanging way over the end. 

“I knew that I only had seven minutes left before I had to check in, and I still had to cull and then make a short run back to the ramp.  I held the fish up, and it was kind of skinny and had a little bit of a hump back.  I knew that it was over 4-pounds, but I really didn’t think that it would help me that much because I thought that all the fish in my livewell were at least 4-pounders.  I ended up throwing that fish back and just running in. 

“When I started bagging up my fish, I realized that I had one in the livewell that was only about 3 ¾-pounds.  I don’t think that it would have been enough to win, but that fish would have made things a lot more interesting on the final day.”

3rd Place: Brandon Palaniuk (22.01, 21.99, 17.77: 61.77)
What were your expectations heading into the day?
“I knew that if I was going to pull this thing off I needed to have a big bag over 20-pounds.  This turned into an A-Rig dominated tournament, and I knew that with the caliber of fish that lived in Douglas Lake, it would take a big sack to win.

“My goal was to get at least 20-pounds in the boat and then cull up to at least 22-pounds by the end of the day.” 

What was your primary pattern throughout the week?
“I just threw an A-Rig along steep banks.”

What were your primary baits and tactics?
“This was a straight-up chandelier derby day in and day out.  If you put that A-Rig down, you were pretty much just wasting your time. I used Berkley Hollow Belly swimbaits on my rig all week long.” 

Was there a key moment for you during the tournament?
“The key for me happened early on the second day.  I noticed how the fish were positioning and I could see them on the graph.  That allowed me to make the right cast where I would get a bite.” 

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
“My decision making was great.  I spent about four hours each day fishing water that I knew held fish.  I spent the other half of each day just fishing new water and practicing.  This was a great tournament for me to fish, because I was going to be down here anyway practicing for the upcoming Bassmaster Open.

“My execution was perfect all tournament until about 15 minutes left on the final day today.  I caught a 5-pound smallmouth and about five minutes later I hooked another giant smallmouth that was at least a 6-pounder.  She ended up coming off about halfway to the boat.” 

For complete standings, CLICK HERE