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Right on the spot

11/23/2008

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Perhaps Ben Franklin had saltwater fishing in mind when he said "He that can have patience, can have what he will."

It was extreme patience that led a trio of childhood friends, brothers Brian and Gary Woelber and Raymond Rogers, to victory at the ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Series Redbone Savannah Red Trout Celebrity Classic on Saturday.

The trio of childhood friends accumulated 11,550 points to win the Grand Team Champion category. Exclusively fishing one spot, the team landed more than 120 trout and 20 redfish over two days, exclusively fishing one spot that was no bigger than a modestly sized swimming pool.

Guided by Capt. Brian Woelber, the team built a commanding margin from the spot Friday, but Saturday their mettle was tested.

With nearly two hours left in the competition day, Gary Woelber and Rogers, had yet to land a fish. Capt. Brian Woelber knew that the spot turned on later in the day and had conditioned both anglers to the fact. But when it hit 1 p.m., he became antsy.

Often, fishing tournaments are won based on split-second decisions, and the trio was losing faith in their magical spot. So much so, Capt. Woelber began to crank up the Power Pole in preparation to leave.

If it wasn't for his younger brother, Gary, they might have made a huge mistake.

"I guess I'll take credit for that," said Gary Woelber, 33, who recently with Brian started a business venture, Drop Zone Fishing, which supplies anglers with pre-loaded GPS cards that detail productive fishing areas around Savannah.

"It starts to play with your mind when you are waiting, but I just figured that we were going to live or die on that spot. Thankfully, it worked out."

If it was camaraderie that pulled them through Friday, it was a sound strategy that engendered success Saturday.

Capt. Woelber had his brother throw live bait to locate the trout while Rogers, the more experienced angler, followed with DOA shrimp. The majority of the trout they boated were in 3 to 5 feet of water. The more-than-20 redfish came as a nice surprise and were all landed in pursuit of trout.

Capt. Woelber worked throughout the day to position the boat, allowing the anglers to cast with the wind and felt boat position was another key to the team's success.

The two anglers had to be ready at the drop of a dime as the fish were biting "like mad" after long periods of inactivity. Knowing this, the crew skipped lunch Friday, but Saturday couldn't resist temptation. After lunch is when the bite picked up.

Despite the two productive days of fishing, the conditions were near-freezing and windy throughout the competition. The less than ideal conditions had an affect on all the anglers, including the victorious team.

Rogers said Friday he would have been happy to pack it in. The younger Woelber forgot gloves, a cardinal sin on a day like Saturday, and spent the day with a pair of aching hands.

"But once we started catching fish, I think we all warmed up," said Rogers. "It was no different than when we were growing up."

Other anglers persevering through the conditions included fishing legends Stu Apte and Flip Pallot. Pallot was competing in his third EOSS event this year while Apte took the Celebrity Division title.