"Tournaments like this don't happen very often," said Brauer, whose only other win in BASS competition came in 1996. "I had a large area completely to myself the entire week, so all I had to do was figure out what the bass were doing. I never had to fish defensively at all."
Concentrating in an off-river oxbow he found on Internet maps and visited in February, Brauer flipped a black/blue flake Strike King Rodent and cranked a Strike King Series 4S crankbait around various types of flooded timber.
With water levels dropping daily, he followed the bass as they moved from the shoreline out to about 10 feet where they suspended in fallen timber.
"I had my limit today by 9 a.m., but it only weighed about 10 pounds," Brauer said after Saturday's final weigh-in. "Then, between 9:30 and 11 a.m., everything I caught was in the 3- to 4-pound range.
"I left the area at 11 a.m to come back to the weigh-in."
Texas' Craig Shuff, winner of the Central Division's opening event at Lake Amistad, fished within site of the launch ramp, but had to work much harder. Rather than fish a floating frog over lily pads as most were doing, he swam a 5/16-ounce Eakins Finesse Jig with a NetBait Paca Craw trailer through the pads a foot under the surface.
As unusual as the technique may have been, it kept Schuff in the top five all week.
James Biggs of Bedford, Texas, followed in third with 38-11. He fished laydown timber with nearby deep water to catch 15 to 20 bass a day with finesse-type plastic worms and light line. Fellow Texan Keith Combs captured fourth with 32-10, after spending his tournament fishing a shallow backwater area with floating frogs and shallow-running crank baits.
Tennessee's Dianna Clark, a former Women's Bassmaster Tour champion and one of several former WBT anglers in the tournament, claimed fifth with 31-5 by flipping a Lake Fork Trophy Tackle finesse lure to shallow stumps and laydowns. Rather than run to different areas, Clark, who's known for her flipping skills, stayed in one small area and worked it thoroughly all three days.
Gonzales' Robbie Latuso was Louisiana's highest-placing pro, capturing 21st with 23-4. Joining him in the top 50 were Shreveport's Marvin Ettredge, Randy Allen of Benton, Minden's Homer Humphreys, Farmerville's Chris Burnham, Roger Boler of Slidell and Zack Gagnard of Pineville.
Thomas Tysdal, an IBM program manager from Oklahoma, won the non-boater division with four bass weighing 20 pounds, 14 ounces. More than half that weight came with one bass, an 11-pound, 3-ounce giant he caught on a Spro Bronzeye Frog Jr. on Friday.
Louisiana anglers captured seven of the top 10 spots in the co-angler division. Bryan Cox of Shreveport took second (20-11), Bossier City's Bryan Hester took fourth (17-13) and Keithville's Dustin Wood captured fifth (17-12). Sixth went to Ronald Gibson of Haughton (16-7), while Dale Jamison of Vidalia took eighth place with 14-6. Dry Prong's Dan Stevens and Bossier City's Adrian Smiley tied for ninth with 14-4.