Kevin Wirth takes the Tennessee Triumph on Old Hickory.
Nine-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier and Triton Pro Kevin Wirth pulled out his first Elite Series victory — in the Tennessee Triumph presented by Longhorn — by holding off a late-charging Bill Lowen on a cloudy, windy day on Old Hickory Lake.
The weight of 26 other top-10 and five runner-up finishes lifted from the slender 46-year-old's shoulders when his fish registered. His 10-pound limit, anchored by the first two fish he caught on a buzzbait after a week of flipping shallow, pushed him to 55-10, well past Lowen's 50-5 — and to the $100,000 first prize.
"Yeah!" Wirth screamed. He thrust his fist in the air and gave Lowen a hug. When that excitement ebbed, he was left wiping his eyes behind his sunglasses.
"I can't hardly hold my emotions here," Wirth told the weigh-in crowd at Sanders Ferry Park. "There's been many a day you think this isn't the right thing to be doing. This makes it all worthwhile.
"Dreams do come true."
So accustomed to heartbreak is Wirth that he began the day almost consoling himself this would still be a successful tournament by counting the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points he would earn, even if he were to zero on Day Four. That didn't happen, obviously, but Wirth, who began the week in 51st in the points, immensely helped his odds of qualifying for the 2009 Classic.
Triton Pro Randy Howell (third, 50-0) enjoyed his best Elite Series event of the season, and lobbied on-stage for more "junk fishing" tournaments. And Triton Pro Brent Chapman (47-11) moved from 12th to 7th on the strength of a 14-6 bag, followed by Triton Pro Ray Sedgwick (44-14).