GROVE, Okla. – A Grove man landed the top prize on Sunday at the Toyota Series fishing tournament held on Grand Lake this weekend.
Steven Bale beat out 168 anglers netting the Strike King co-angler trophy and a new Phoenix bass boat in his first national tournament win.
It was a dream come true for the Grove man.
“When I finally got on stage I was so nervous and anxious I couldn’t hold still and when he finally took his hand off the scale and I had 6 pounds, 15 ounces I was so excited and realized I had just beat out 168 of some of the best co-anglers out there to win the tournament and a new boat,” Bale said. “I’m not sure it has fully sunk in yet what I have accomplished.”
Bale finished the three-day tournament with 35 pounds and 9 ounces, Bryan Barnard came in second with 33 pounds and 5 ounces, and Matthew Hargarten finished with 30 pounds and 9 ounces.
The Grand Lake native started championship Saturday in first place with a five-pound, one-ounce lead.
“I was so nervous starting the day, I knew I had to go out and fish clean to have a chance to win,” Bale said.
“It was nerve-racking having to wait in line to watch the other top 24 anglers weigh-in before me,” Bale said.
“The first two days, the wind wasn’t a factor,” Bale said. “We fished a lot of pockets up in coves so we were blocked from the wind, and I could fish how I wanted to.”
The third day was a different story, he said.
Those Oklahoma winds were fierce prompting Bale to retreat to a cove.
“The wind switched directions and it was hard to fish,” Bale said. “The good Lord blessed me on day three. I got four bites and three (fish) were keepers.”
Using a 1/16 Shakey Head senko in the green pumpkin color Bale picked up his winning bites.