Patrick Walters wraps up his third NPFL victory with the winning three-day total weight of 57 pounds, 5 ounces in the season finale on Lake Lanier.
“I just want to thank the NPFL, this is truly a family-oriented league and I can’t thank you all enough,” said Walters. “To my mom, dad, and beautiful wife, I can’t thank you all enough for the support, and thanks for coming up for the weigh-in.”
Walters, who led after Day 2, complemented his first two limits of 19 pounds, 13 ounces, and 20 pounds, 1 ounce with a Day 3 bag that weighed 17 pounds, 7 ounces to seal the victory over Will Harkins.
Like most of the field, Walters was keying in on the vast amount of brush that Lake Lanier has to offer. The big difference in getting bigger fish to bite each day, and surviving the local pressure, was targeting piles with a larger group of fish than normal.
“You had to find brush with a lot of fish, and they had to be set up right within,” he said. “Usually, they didn’t get set up until later in the morning and it was really hard to trick five or ten bass. If you found a pile with twenty, you could get them to compete for it and bite.”
Walters estimated fishing around fifty brush piles on Showdown Saturday and was physically tired from lifting and deploying the trolling motor all day. While he located some key piles in practice, he credits new water for his final two days’ weight leading to his third win.
“I was literally making 2 or 3 casts per spot this afternoon, and it was exhausting. I ran the Falcon/Mercury all over the lake this week. The majority of my bites came in the new brush; I just went fishing and rotated between the Zoom Super Fluke and Zoom Magnum Shakey Head worm each day,” he added.
Walters wanted to credit one of his good friends and travel partner Trent Palmer, and Sonar Pros for getting the Falcon dialed for the season. With all of the tournaments in 2023, it was relaxing to fish with Trent and Mike at the NPFL and stay fresh all season long all over the country.
“Trent, Mike, and I share everything to break down water,” he said before receiving his NPFL trophy. “I don’t know where we all finished in this event, but we had a phenomenal season and it was a pleasure traveling with those guys. We just need Mike to get a trophy next season.”
After leading on Day 1 with 20 pounds, 6 ounces, Harkins added 18 pounds, 9 ounces on Day 2 — the second biggest bag of the day — and a Showdown Saturday bag that weighed 13 pounds, 9 ounces. With a three-day total of 52 pounds, 8 ounces, Harkins wraps up a phenomenal season with back-to-back second-place finishes, runner-up in the Progressive Angler of the Year, and an NPFL championship qualification.
Leading after day one, Harkins is familiar with Lake Lanier and spent the majority of his time on certain brush piles on high-percentage schooling points and rotating through nearly fifty per day. His two-bait approach this week included pulling out an old reliable bait from the tackle.
“I was not fishing anything special by Lanier standards, but it was off the path enough for most of the field,” he said. “Each day I would typically hit fifty spots and then rotate my best five of those spots later in the day. I was fishing a really old Bomber Wake Bait, and I don’t even know what it’s called.”
When the brush fishing got slow, Harkins hit the bank and targeted small groups of spotted bass chasing baitfish along the bank. His bait of choice, similar to Walters, was a Zoom Super Fluke.
“I would troll down the bank and throw that Fluke at them feeding towards the surface and get them to bite. Today four of the five I weighed in came on the Fluke; on days one and two, it was the wake bait that yielded the best luck,” he added.
With added pressure from over 200 boats on the lake, coupled with high skies and no wind, his bite was tough to execute and it just didn’t work out.
“You really need to have some cloud or wind to mask the bait a little otherwise they get too good a look at it,” he said.” Today with the pressure, I could only fish four of the main places, but it was still a great week.
“Overall, the season was a lot better than I could have expected. I had no expectations, but in the first two events I was too stressed, and then I decided to have fun and fish and ended with a run of 3rd, 7th, 2nd, and 2nd, which put me right behind Todd in the Angler of the Year and qualified me for the Championship. No complaints, it’s been an awesome year and I have an amazing support group.
With the mentality of simply doing his job every day, Todd Goade closed out a storybook fishing season with a third-place finish in the season finale on Lake Lanier, and wrapped up the 2023 Progressive Angler of the Year award on a body of water he knows so well.
With a three-day total of 48 pounds, 10 ounces, Goade did what he does best and saved his 17 pounds, 15 pounds biggest bag of the week for the final day. He began the week with 17 pounds, 10 ounces on day one, and survived day two with 13 pounds, 1 ounce which set him up for a final day comeback.
“It really was a storybook ending for the season,” said an emotional Goade with his wife on stage. “I said I had to do my job all year, and I am not going to lie, when I caught that last 3.5 pounder this morning I hollered, and I knew I had done it. “It’s what you dream about and work for. I love Lake Lanier and Spotted Bass; it was an incredible way to end the season.”
Although he doesn’t reside in Georgia any longer, Goade’s experience and history with Lanier runs deep, and today he was able to enjoy a lot of the time he spent with good friends in the past.
“I have so many memories on this lake it was amazing to have caught them by 9 AM this morning. I was able to just go fishing and enjoy the day. I went down memory lane fishing some places from the past, and some new places,” he said.
As far as how he caught his bass this week, Goade relied on a bait he feels is one of the best spotted bass baits ever made – Zoom Magnum Shakey head Worm in Green Pumpkin Green color.
“The deep fish didn’t bite for me on day two, but I was able to survive,” he said. “I saw them all, and today it was stupid – I culled a limit of 15 pounds. I still don’t know why yesterday was tough but today was incredible and the Mag Shakey Head Worm fished alongside brush piles was key. I caught fish from 10 to 35 feet.”
Goade was revisiting brush piles from the past as well as lots of new ones in Lanier. After a year of good decisions and making the right moves, first thing this morning Goade had another right call to get his Showdown Saturday off to a great start.
“This morning, I was headed to a spot they have been schooling and I noticed another good spot was open,” he added. “I peeled off and caught them quickly, two of my bigger fish. It’s those kinds of decisions that lead to good finishes and winning the AOY.
“I want to thank my wife for being my rock and biggest fan and supporter. She puts up with all of this and I am glad she could be here today. Also, I have to thank all of my sponsors, family, and friends. I just looked and I have 176 texts on my phone,” he laughed.
With his biggest bag of the day on the final day, Billy Hackworth finished at Lake Lanier with a three-day total of 46 pounds, 8 ounces. Increasing his weights each day, Hackworth started with 14 pounds, 7 ounces on day one, added 15 pounds, 15 ounces on day two, and 16 pounds, 2 ounces on the final day.
Ryan Satterfield 46-7
Increasing his weight each day, Ryan Satterfield added a final day limit weighing 16 pounds, 13 ounces to his day one weight of 13 pounds, 6 ounces and day two weight of 16 pounds, 4 ounces to finish at Lake Lanier in fifth place with a total weight of 46 pounds, 7 ounces.
Like the other, Satterfield rotated through different brush piles using Livescope to locate fish around the edges. He started on day one catching fish with a drop shot but had to change as the lake pressure increased.
“I swapped to a shakey head yesterday and today,” he said. “The bait had to sit on the bottom and shake, but not move. Eventually one would grab it.”
As the pressure increased from local traffic, Satterfield eventually ended up not making a cast until he saw a fish he felt might bite, to allow him to move quicker and cover more water.
“I kept running as many as I could find to find feeding fish. I could tell what fish might be in the mood but they were so finicky it had to be still. The other thing, some of these piles had twenty big ones, but you could only catch one out of each. After 2 PM this afternoon, I culled almost everything which allowed me to slide up to fifth.”
Rest of the Best:
Keith Carson 43-11
Reagan Nelson 42-11
Mike Corbishley 42-6
Hunter Baughman 40-4
Quentin Cappo 40-1