With a 9-pound monster safely onboard, Gary Caruso didn’t need five fish to win the first FLW Walmart Bass Fishing League Cowboy Division tournament of 2015.

The Baton Rouge angler’s four-fish stringer weighed-in at 19 pounds, 6 ounces and was good enough for the victory and $5,273 at Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

“I just picked up a new boat, I had my girlfriend with me at the tournament and I got the win,” Caruso said. “I can’t think of a better weekend.”

Caruso caught almost 20 pounds of bass by heading south to a cove and targeting two shallow spawning flats with a creek channel running between them. He said he knew the fish would be active in the grass and cypress trees that flourish there.

“I got into about 3 feet of water and started working down the bank and caught a 4-pounder on my fourth cast of the day,” he said.

When the bite slowed, Caruso explored deeper water using a Rat-L-Trap in rayburn red to test out the grass and hydrilla. When he found a suitable patch, he switched to a black-and-red flaked Mister Twister Flip’n Out with more success. 

He eventually moved to the edge of the spawning flat and caught the 9-pounder around 11:30 a.m. 

Although he wasn’t able to catch a limit, Caruso caught a fourth fish late in the day that turned out to be the difference-maker.

“I caught a 4-pound fish within the last 15 minutes of the tournament and that’s the one that put me over the top,” he said. “It was amazing.”