Beginning the day in fourth place, Nitro Boats pro Dylan Hays of El Dorado, Arkansas, caught a five-bass limit Saturday weighing 14 pounds, 6 ounces, to jump to the top of the leaderboard and win the three-day Costa FLW Series at Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude.

Beginning the day in fourth place, Nitro Boats pro Dylan Hays of El Dorado, Arkansas, caught a five-bass limit Saturday weighing 14 pounds, 6 ounces, to jump to the top of the leaderboard and win the three-day Costa FLW Series at Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude.

Hays’ three-day total of 15 bass weighing 43 pounds, 14 ounces was enough to earn him the victory by a slim 7-ounce margin over second-place angler and Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour pro James Watson of Lampe, Missouri, and earn Hays the top prize of $37,515. The tournament was the third and final regular-season tournament of the year for anglers competing in the Costa FLW Series Central Division.

“God is so good, man,” said an emotional Hays just moments after being declared the winner. “I am so fortunate, you have no idea. I caught a 5-pounder on my very last cast that literally came off in the net. It culled out a 15-incher. I threw it in the livewell and took off to check in. It was literally the very last cast. You can’t make that up.”

What Hays didn’t say on stage was that he hadn’t even planned to be there. Hays had planned to spend the last few minutes of his day at another spot, but when he looked at his clock he realized that he wasn’t going to have enough time to make it there and back before check in. He audibled, and conceded to fishing a brush pile that he had visited multiple times throughout the week.

“I hit this brush pile every day and never had a bite,” Hays said. “I wasn’t even planning to go there today but I didn’t have time to fish much else. As I was fishing up to it, I broke off my football jig, so I told myself ‘well, I guess I’m going to close out the day with a crankbait.’ I threw a (Strike King) 6XD up in there and bam.”

Hays said that had he not broke off he would have been throwing the football jig.

“Who knows, maybe it would have bit the jig, too. I still can’t believe it happened.”

Hays said the key to his win this week was staying persistent and confident in the mentally challenging tournament.

“I wasn’t getting many bites – I only had six the first day, six the second and nine bites today,” Hays said. “Every time I tried to go to the bank and throw topwater all I would catch were little ones. So I stuck to my game plan – fishing brush and docks around the Glaize Arm of the river – and it paid off.”

Hays jig of choice was a ¾-ounce peanut butter and jelly-colored Jewel football jig paired with a green-pumpkin-colored Zoom Super Speed Craw. He caught his biggest fish of the tournament on a green-pumpkin Zoom Brush Hog and also weighed in 2 or 3 each day on a blue herring-colored Strike King 6XD.

“To win an event, you have to never lose a fish and I didn’t lose one all week,” Hays went on to say. “There were some absolute studs in the top 10 today, and to come away with a win – good lord… wow.”

The top 10 pros on Lake of the Ozarks finished:

1st: Dylan Hays, El Dorado, Ark., 15 bass, 43-14, $37,515

2nd: James Watson, Lampe, Mo., 14 bass, 43-7, $13,978

3rd: Casey Scanlon, Lake Ozark, Mo., 15 bass, 42-9, $10,745

4th: Ben Verhoef, Osage Beach, Mo., 13 bass, 41-9, $8,954

5th: James Dill, Sunrise Beach, Mo., 15 bass, 39-1, $8,158

6th: Lance Williams, Billings, Mo., 15 bass, 38-10, $7,163

7th: Cory Steckler, Rocky Mount, Mo., 13 bass, 36-10, $6,268

8th: Brian Maloney, Osage Beach, Mo., 13 bass, 35-9, $5,372

9th: Dale Andrews, Jay, Okla., 15 bass, 32-15, $4,477

10th: Ladd Shannon, Atkins, Ark., eight bass, 28-4, $3,834

A complete list of results can be found at FLWFishing.com.

Shannon caught the largest bass of the tournament Thursday, weighing 5 pounds, 11 ounces and earning him the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $252.

Erick Fernengel of Lake Waukomis, Missouri, won the Co-angler Division Saturday with a three-day total of 11 bass weighing 27 pounds, 7 ounces. For his win, Fernengel took home the top prize package of a new Ranger Z175 boat with a 115-horsepower outboard motor, worth $27,100.

The top 10 co-anglers on Lake of the Ozarks finished:

1st: Erick Fernengel, Lake Waukomis, Mo., 11 bass, 27-7, $27,100

2nd: Roger Olson Jr., Eagle River, Wis., seven bass, 24-8, $4,581

3rd: Jamie Eynard, Jefferson City, Mo., 11 bass, 21-11, $3,665

4th: Justin Hake, Conway, Ark., eight bass, 21-10, $3,207

5th: Andrew Hegerty, Colgate, Wis., nine bass, 20-9, $3,049

6th: Joe Tucker, Osceola, Mo., nine bass, 18-9, $2,441

7th: Joe Lee, Midlothian, Texas, five bass, 17-15, $1,832

8th: Rob Crane, Fairview Heights, Ill., seven bass, 17-12, $1,603

9th: Ryan Jobe, De Soto, Kan., 11 bass, 17-10, $1,374

10th: Justin Layton, Forsyth, Mo., seven bass, 15-11, $1,145

Scott Parsons of Rogers, Arkansas, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Co-angler Division Thursday, a fish weighing 6 pounds, 9 ounces. He earned the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $168.

The Costa FLW Series on Table Rock Lake presented by Evinrude was hosted by the Tri-County Lodging Association. It was the third and final tournament in the 2019 regular season for Central Division anglers. The next tournament for FLW Series anglers will be the season finale – the Costa FLW Series Championship at Lake Cumberland, held Oct. 31- Nov. 2 in Burnside, Kentucky. For a complete schedule, visit FLWFishing.com.

The Costa FLW Series consists of five U.S. divisions – Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western – along with the International division. Each U.S. division consists of three regular-season tournaments with competitors vying for valuable points that could earn them the opportunity to compete in the season-ending Costa FLW Series Championship.

For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Costa FLW Series on FLW’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.