The home court advantage may have worked to Jeremy Lawyer's favor, as the southwest Missouri angler reeled in his first FLW Pro Tour win on Sunday, March 31, at Wolf Creek Park.
Lawyer, who calls Sarcoxie, Missouri home, caught enough during the four-day tournament to give him a total of 62 pounds, 12 ounces - and win via a tie-breaker with international angler Michael Matthee of South Africa, who also weighed in 62-12.
The win came based upon their standings at the start of the Day 4 competition. Matthee began the day in fourth place, while Lawyer was in second.
Lawyer walked away with a prize of $125,000 for the win. He compared the win with his All-American Championship in 2016.
“I can’t even express what this means,” said Lawyer, who is fishing his third season on the FLW Tour. “I dreamt for years of making the All-American, then I finally made it there and won it. That was a huge milestone for my family – my bank account, my fishing career, everything.
"Now, to get a win at the Tour level, it’s unbelievable. And to do it here with my friends following me on a lake that I’ve got a lot of history with and love for, gosh, it couldn’t be any better.”
Lawyer, who works as the city manager in Sarcoxie, calls Grand Lake home.
He joked that he didn't truly know he won, until Bryan Thrift - the leader going into Day 4, weighed in his one and only fish.
The catch dropped Thrift to seventh place and catapulted Lawyer and Mattee into first and second, respectively.
As Lawyer weighed in his final five-bass bag, he quickly moved his smallest fish into the scale, joking it was barely a keeper, calling it a "line burner."
"It doesn't get any closer than that," Lawyer said. "I was sweating it."
Lawyer said he had a lot of things go his way every day of the tournament.
"Things just kinda kept happening this week, which put me into this position," Lawyer said. "I don't know what it was, but I'm tickled to death to be standing here, right now."
Lawyer said his fishing did not contain a pattern, as much as randomly adjusting to the changing fishing conditions.
"This was never a for sure deal," Lawyer said. "I didn't know I won until I held up my hand on stage."
Lawyer said he spent much of his time putting the trolling motor down, and fishing the sides of coves.
"You could throw at 2,700 trees and might get a bite, and you could throw under a dock and catch one," Lawyer said. "It was so random [Sunday], I caught five fish on five different things.
"It's been that way all week. That's what kept the weights a bit low and kept the fishing a little bit tougher."
Ultimately, Lawyer said his knowledge of the lake - not only where to fish, but where not to fish - may have helped him secure the win.
Lawyer fished four different areas on Sunday, between Honey Creek and Pensacola Dam. He avoided Elk River, because he knew recent tournaments put extra pressure on that area of Grand Lake.
"I started somewhere new every day, completely new," Lawyer said. "If anything right out of the gate, I had a bunch of water I knew I was not going to fish, because I knew I hadn't caught them in the past there.
"I didn't even practice where I started on the first day of the tournament, because I was afraid I would go in and practice and I might stick one or two and take the fish out - or I wouldn't get a bite because the fishing was so terrible in practice."
Lawyer said he fished his comfort zone.
"If there was any key to anything it was behind boat docks, over the cables, and everything like that," he said, calling this weekend's win "icing on the cake."
"This is everything I've worked for from the All-American, back in the day and everything," Lawyer said. "This is unbelievable.
"To have so much history on the lake and to capitalize it with a win, it makes it that much better to do it at a place where you get to have all your friends and family that support you all these years to get to come and watch."
Lawyer said this weekend's catch is reflective of the weather conditions on Grand Lake, not the overall condition of the fishery.
"If the FLW showed up here in April, it would be stupid what we would catch," Lawyer said. "The lake is in great shape. The average weight of a fish was 3.18 pounds. You pick another lake you can do that at. It's just hard to do.
"The weather is what's kind of held us all back."
Lawyer thanked his sponsors, as well as his friends and colleagues in Sarcoxie for continuing to provide him support.
"I think half the town of Sarcoxie is here," Lawyer said. "I want to thank the guys in Sarcoxie, they handle everything while I'm gone."
He joked he might hang his check on the city hall walls, as a new decoration.
"It's a great town. Just one of those little places you call home. We have a lot going on in the community."
He said the tournament was fun, because friends not only met him at the boat ramp on Sunday, but several "followed him around" as he fished throughout the tournament.
Did You Know?
Jeremy Lawyer caught all of this 20 fish on spinnerbaits, with his key one being a 3/4-ounce Freedom Lures Swing head spinnerbait thrown on a 7-foot, 6-inch Lew's Magnum Heavy Cover rod and Lew's Pro Magnesium reel spooled with 20-pound Sunline fluorocarbon.
Just The Facts
Final Results of the FLW Tour Stop on Grand Lake
1st: Bass Pro Shops pro Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 20 bass, 62-12, $127,500
2nd: Michael Matthee, Centurion, Gauteng, South Africa, 18 bass, 62-12, $30,200
3rd: Miles Burghoff, Hixson, Tenn., 18 bass, 61-3, $25,500
4th: Berkley pro John Cox, DeBary, Fla., 17 bass, 59-9, $20,100
5th: Bradford Beavers, Summerville, S.C., 19 bass, 58-4, $19,000
6th: Billy McCaghren, Mayflower, Ark., 18 bass, 58-1, $18,000
7th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 16 bass, 56-7, $17,000
8th: Brian Latimer, Belton, S.C., 12 bass, 46-12, $16,000
9th: Jamie Horton, Centerville, Ala., 14 bass, 43-5, $15,000
10th: Sheldon Collings, Grove, Okla., 15 bass, 39-9, $14,000
Complete results for the entire field can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Overall there were 31 bass weighing 102 pounds, 8 ounces caught by pros Sunday. Five of the final 10 pros weighed in five-bass limits.