CLAYTON, N.Y.– Yamaha pro angler Patrick Walters broke records by catching the heaviest 20-fish smallmouth total in Bassmaster history to win the Minn Kota Bassmaster® Elite at the St. Lawrence River. During the four-day tournament, Walters brought in 105 pounds earning the $100,000 grand prize and his third Bassmaster Century belt, which recognizes a 20-bass total of 100 pounds or more. He also automatically qualified for the 2024 Bassmaster Classic in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“I used to not be able to catch 17 pounds on this river when 25 pounds a day was still good,” Walters said. “That’s what means the world to me — how bad I truly was at it and to come back and catch (over) 100 pounds of smallmouth and win.
“This one means more than my first Elite win (Lake Fork, 2020). I could not do it without my family — my mom and dad here and my wife back home. My wife’s grandfather passed away during last week’s tournament at Lake Champlain. I felt like he was with me throughout this week.”
Turning in daily weights of 24-14, 27-3, 28-5 — Day 3’s heaviest bag — and 24-10, Walters edged Canadian superstar Chris Johnston by 1-4.
Walters earned his first Century Club belt in his 2020 victory at Lake Fork and added another one the following year with a second-place finish at Fork. With this week’s performance, Walters became the first angler in Bassmaster history to break the 100-pound mark with largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Walters had identified key areas in Canadian waters, about an hour from the river mouth. But when Day 1 brought strong southerly winds and extremely rough water, he decided to fish the St. Lawrence River. Doing so allowed his main area to rest, and the fish proved very dependable when he returned. He spent most of the next three days on his initial target area near Prince Edward Point. After a good start to Championship Sunday, Walters made a key move that sealed his victory.
“I had 21 pounds at 1:30 and I came all the way back to the U.S. side and caught two 4-pounders in the last 30 minutes. I think that was the nail in the coffin,” Walters said. “It was a tough week, but I had an amazing time.”
Yamaha/Skeeter angler, Kyoya Fujita, who won the previous Elite event at Lake Champlain, finished third and also claimed his first century belt with his tournament total of 102-5. His daily weights were 24-10, 26-15, 25 and 25-12. Fujita won the $1,000 Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Day award for his 6-2.
Yamaha pros Kenta Kimura, Taku Ito and Scott Martin also placed in the Top 10. Yamaha pro Jason Christie claimed a $10,000 bonus for catching the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Year — a 9-4 Lay Lake largemouth.
As part of the Yamaha Power Pay program, Walters earned an additional $4,000 and former St. Lawrence champion Taku Ito of Japan claimed an additional $1,500 for being the second-highest placing entrant.
Yamaha Marine products are marketed throughout the United States and around the world. Yamaha Marine Engine Systems, based in Kennesaw, Ga., supports its 2,000 U.S. dealers and boat builders with marketing, training and parts for Yamaha’s full line of products and strives to be the industry leader in reliability, technology and customer service. Yamaha Marine is the only outboard brand to have earned NMMA®’s C.S.I. Customer Satisfaction Index award every year since its inception. Visit www.yamahaoutboards.com.
REMEMBER to always observe all applicable boating laws. Never drink and drive. Dress properly with a USCG-approved personal floatation device and protective gear.
© 2023 Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. All rights reserved.
This document contains many of Yamaha’s valuable trademarks. It may also contain trademarks belonging to other companies. Any references to other companies or their products are for identification purposes only and are not intended to be an endorsement.
Public Relations Manager
Yamaha U.S. Marine Business Unit
Mobile: (470) 898-7278
Yamaha U.S. Marine Business Unit
Mobile: (404) 317-0698