BAINBRIDGE, Ga. (Nov. 8, 2020) – Major League Fishing (MLF) pro Keith Poche of Pike Road, Alabama, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 15 pounds, 6 ounces to win the three-day Toyota Series at Lake Seminole tournament in Bainbridge, Georgia. Poche’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 46-6 earned him the win by a 9-ounce margin over second-place angler Mikey Keyso, Jr. of North Port, Florida, and earned Poche the top payout of $31,960 in the third and final regular-season tournament of the 2020 Toyota Series Southern Division.
“I love fishing Lake Seminole and I especially like running up the Flint River in those shoals and catching shoal bass,” Poche said. “I’ve got a 17-foot, 6-inch flat-bottom aluminum boat I use just for fishing such rivers in the southeast, but I only looked into fishing this tournament earlier this week, so I’m shocked at pulling the win.”
As a fulltime professional angler on the MLF Bass Pro Tour, Poche is no stranger to big time bass fishing events. Poche said what stunned him, however, was he had no intention of even fishing the Toyota Series on Seminole until Tuesday of last week. In fact, other than a few Phoenix Bass Fishing League events early in his career, and the recent Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournaments, Poche had never fished either a Pro Circuit or a Toyota Series event.
Poche said he ran as far as nearly Newton, Georgia, on the first day of the event, but found the Flint to be higher and dirtier than he would like for shoal bass.
“I realized pretty quickly that because of the fast current, it was a total reaction bite,” Poche said. “I opted to drift down the river with the current, pitching a Berkley PowerBait Pit Boss in green pumpkin, teamed with a 3/8-ounce weight, tied to Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon to any current breaks caused by bank cuts, cypress trees, logs or rocks. The fish were holed up in the current breaks and they would bite as soon as it hit the water and started to fall.”
On day one, Poche weighed in all largemouths for 17 pounds, 14 ounces and settled in third place, behind Jared McMillan and Jason Smith.
On day two, Poche ran some 35 to 40 miles up the river again, but said his quick pitch program died.
“I went like 3 hours without catching one,” he said. “So I changed up a little bit and started throwing a 3/8-ounce Humdinger Spinnerbait to main river rocks breaking current. That produced a couple of keeper shoal bass.”
Poche said he only had three bass in his livewell when he got back down towards Bainbridge. Needing to make something happen, he bumped over a shallow sandbar to access a backwater slough. Once in the slough, he caught a 4-pound largemouth and a couple more keepers on the spinnerbait.
“Looking back on the tournament, that 4-pounder on Friday is probably what won the tournament for me,” he recalled. “I had struggled all day and that one saved me.”
Poche started the final day some 6 pounds behind the leader and headed far north on the Flint again.
“It was sort of like day one again,” he said. “They were biting the Pit Boss as soon as it hit the water. I started to catch some better ones as the day went on and even added a nice shoal bass to top off my limit. By the end of the day, I was knocking on the door of the 15-pound range.”
Poche said it wasn’t until the final fish was weighed that he learned most of the top-10 had struggled and his consistent limits each day put him on top.
“I was happy to have made the top 10 and fish up there another day,” Poche said. “I figured I might stay in the top five with my catch and get a decent check for the week. But to win this thing? Man, I’m still a little shocked. It’s crazy how it all worked out.”
The top 10 pros on Lake Seminole finished:
1st: Keith Poche of Pike Road, Ala., 15 bass, 46-6, $31,960
2nd: Mikey Keyso, Jr. of North Port, Fla., 15 bass, 45-9, $12,191
3rd: Bryan New of Belmont, N.C., 15 bass, 44-11, $9,438
4th: Jared McMillan of Belle Glade, Fla., 15 bass, 44-7, $7,865
5th: Dillon McMillan of Belle Glade, Fla., 15 bass, 43-0, $7,179
6th: Jim Murray, Jr., Leesburg, Ga., 15 bass, 42-9, $6,292
7th: Jason S. Smith of Dawson, Ga., 13 bass, 35-14, $5,505
8th: Santos Solis of Vero Beach, Fla., 13 bass, 34-3, $5,719
9th: Gary Milicevic of Labelle, Fla., 11 bass, 32-14, $3,932
10th: Corey Smith of Clermont, Fla., 10 bass, 29-2, $3,247
A complete list of results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Solis took home an extra $1,000 as the highest finishing FLW PHOENIX BONUS member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $35,000 per event in each Toyota Series tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the FLW PHOENIX BONUS contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.
Ricky Grant of Inverness, Florida, won the Co-angler Division Saturday with a three-day total of 14 bass weighing 33 pounds even. Grant took home the top prize package of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard motor.
The top 10 co-anglers on Lake Seminole finished:
1st: Ricky Grant of Inverness, Fla., 14 bass, 33-0, Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat w/115-hp outboard
2nd: Spencer Howerton of Melbourne Beach, Fla., 11 bass, 27-9, $3,983
3rd: J.P. Sims of Port St. Lucie, Fla., 12 bass, 24-2, $3,186
4th: Wyatt Frankens of Corrigan, Texas, nine bass, 23-0, $2,788
5th: John Riddling of Melrose, Fla., 13 bass, 22-13, $2,390
6th: Todd Beaver of Richland, Ga., nine bass, 21-14, $1,991
7th: James Brooks of Inverness, Fla., 10 bass, 21-1, $1,593
8th: Aaron Gengler of Lakeland, Fla., 13 bass, 20-10, $1,394
9th: Dan Ehmen of Rockford, Ill., 10 bass, 19-14, $1,195
10th: Blaine Partee of Oviedo, Fla., eight bass, 16-14, $996
The Toyota Series at Lake Seminole was hosted by the Bainbridge Convention and Visitors Bureau. It was the third and final tournament in 2020 for Southern Division anglers. The next event for Toyota Series anglers will take place on Dec. 3-5 – the 2020 Toyota Series Championship at Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Kentucky. For a complete schedule, visit FLWFishing.com.
The 2020 Toyota Series consists of eight divisions – Central, Eastern, Northern, Plains, Southeastern, Southern, Southwestern and Western – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International division. Anglers who fish all three qualifiers in any of the eight divisions and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning $235,000 cash, including a $35,000 FLW PHOENIX Bonus for qualified anglers. The winning co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard. The 2020 Toyota Series Championship will be held Dec. 3-5 on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Kentucky, and is hosted by the Somerset Tourist & Convention Commission and the Burnside Tourism Commission.