OSAGE BEACH, MO -- Beginning the day in fourth place, Nitro Boats pro Dylan Hays of El Dorado caught a five-bass limit Saturday weighing 14 pounds, 6 ounces, to win the three-day Costa FLW Series at Lake of the Ozarks.
Hays’ three-day total of 15 bass weighing 43 pounds, 14 ounces was enough to earn him the victory by a slim 7-ounce margin over second-place angler and Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour pro James Watson of Lampe, MO.
Hays earned the top prize of $37,515.
The tournament was the third and final regular-season tournament of the year for anglers competing in the Costa FLW Series Central Division.
“God is so good, man,” said an emotional Hays just moments after being declared the winner. “I am so fortunate, you have no idea. I caught a 5-pounder on my very last cast that literally came off in the net. It culled out a 15-incher. I threw it in the livewell and took off to check in. It was literally the very last cast. You can’t make that up.”
What Hays didn’t say on stage was that he hadn’t even planned to be there. Hays had planned to spend the last few minutes of his day at another spot, but when he looked at his clock he realized that he wasn’t going to have enough time to make it there and back before check in. He audibled, and conceded to fishing a brush pile that he had visited multiple times throughout the week.
“I hit this brush pile every day and never had a bite,” Hays said. “I wasn’t even planning to go there today but I didn’t have time to fish much else. As I was fishing up to it, I broke off my football jig, so I told myself ‘well, I guess I’m going to close out the day with a crankbait.’ I threw a (Strike King) 6XD up in there and bam.”
Hays said that had he not broke off he would have been throwing the football jig.
“Who knows, maybe it would have bit the jig, too. I still can’t believe it happened.”
Hays said the key to his win was staying persistent and confident in the mentally challenging tournament.
“I wasn’t getting many bites – I only had six the first day, six the second and nine bites today,” Hays said. “Every time I tried to go to the bank and throw topwater all I would catch were little ones. So I stuck to my game plan – fishing brush and docks around the Glaize Arm of the river – and it paid off.”
Hays jig of choice was a ¾-ounce peanut butter and jelly-colored Jewel football jig paired with a green-pumpkin-colored Zoom Super Speed Craw. He caught his biggest fish of the tournament on a green-pumpkin Zoom Brush Hog and also weighed in 2 or 3 each day on a blue herring-colored Strike King 6XD.
The top pros on Lake of the Ozarks finished:
1st: Dylan Hays, El Dorado, AR, 15 bass, 43-14, $37,515
2nd: James Watson, Lampe, MO, 14 bass, 43-7, $13,978
3rd: Casey Scanlon, Lake Ozark, MO, 15 bass, 42-9, $10,745
4th: Ben Verhoef, Osage Beach, MO, 13 bass, 41-9, $8,954
5th: James Dill, Sunrise Beach, MO, 15 bass, 39-1, $8,158
6th: Lance Williams, Billings, MO, 15 bass, 38-10, $7,163
7th: Cory Steckler, Rocky Mount, MO, 13 bass, 36-10, $6,268
8th: Brian Maloney, Osage Beach, MO, 13 bass, 35-9, $5,372
9th: Dale Andrews, Jay, OK, 15 bass, 32-15, $4,477
10th: Ladd Shannon, Atkins, AR, eight bass, 28-4, $3,834
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 points that could earn them the opportunity to compete in the season-ending Costa FLW Series Championship.
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Dylan Hays of El Dorado won the three-day Costa FLW Series at Lake of the Ozarks, and $37,515.