KISSIMMEE, FLA. Call it the "Final Charge of the Dirty Dozen". The unofficial leader of the 12 bass junkies charged with towing boats from venue to venue for BASS took the co-angler title at The Sunshine Showdown presented by Allstate Boat Insurance, in resounding fashion.
Harry Potts, a 67-year-old retired military man, tallied 35-3 pounds over three days, but really only needed his first-day total of 20-8 pounds still the highest one-day weight in the tournament by a co-angler or professional to take the first prize of a fully rigged Triton bass boat worth approximately $50,000. Elite Series anglers will fish out of their own boats in 2008, negating the need for the 12-man road crew.
"I don't know what BASS has in mind for us, but at least part of the Dirty Dozen will be back next year," said Potts, whose highest finish in an Elite Series event was fourth place on Lake Erie this year. "It's a great feeling to go out a winner like this."
Potts' nearest competition was fellow Dirty Dozen member Frank Mealer, who tallied 17-14 tough pounds from the back of the boat.
Don Moore (16-10) and Russ Osborne (16-6) were third and fourth. Day Two third place Mary Delgado, who came out of nowhere fishing with Ben Matsubu on Friday with 14-7 pounds, failed to weigh a fish and finished in 10th place.
Matsubu, who got himself into the top 12 with a Day Three catch, also proved to be an outstanding draw for co-anglers. He fished with Potts today and again put his co-angler in an outstanding position, even if he didn't really need it.
"I thought that if I could catch seven to ten pounds today that I'd have a really good chance to win it. I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd pop another 14 pounds," said Potts. "Benny and I have been paired up probably five times in the past four years — and we always have a great time and always seem to do well."
Potts said he was able to fish the same way he did on his heroic Day One. Throwing a Carolina-rigged Zoom Junebug colored Trick Worm on a 22-24 inch leader and 2/0 red hook with a half-ounce bullet-shaped leader, Potts said he was able to finesse the bait through the scattered hydrilla.
"Most of these guys were using much heavier weights and really ripping it through the grass. These fish didn't really want it that way," said Potts.
Mealer, paired with Preston Clark, was also able to fish his way, though obviously to much less success. He put himself in position on Day One by working a Texas rigged worm through scattered hydrilla and was able to put two keepers in the boat on Day Three by doing the same.
"Preston was a great guy to fish with and he was on a lot of fish. It's just that a whole lot of them were 11 1/2 inches," said Mealer. "I think he just kind of ran out of (keeper) fish."