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How Bryan Thrift Defended His Home Turf to Win $300,000 and the 2023 MLF REDCREST Title

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Heading into day one of competition on Lake Norman for the 2023 Major League Fishing REDCREST, all eyes were on Humminbird and Minn Kota Pro Bryan Thrift. Yet the pressure of being a heavy favorite was not enough to faze him as his focus was on studying his Humminbird LakeMaster contour maps to see where he would first drop his Minn Kota Ultrex™ trolling motor on day one. Growing up a North Carolina native, Thrift has created quite the resume for himself on Lake Norman and just added another major championship win to his long list of accolades.

After breezing through the qualifying rounds, Thrift racked up the tournament’s heaviest limit with 17-pounds, 12-ounces in the first knockout round and 15-pounds, 6-ounces in the second knockout round to head into the championship round with a hefty lead. It took a long and stressful day with less than ideal conditions, but Thrift put up 13-pounds, 10-ounces on the final day to claim the throne on Lake Norman and be named the 2023 Major League Fishing REDCREST champion.

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“This week was exciting being that we are on really familiar water for me and while the conditions were going to be challenging, I felt confident that I spent enough time out here to have an advantage when it comes to making adjustments with the weather,” said Thrift. “I felt I really had a solid game plan and I had two areas that were really good and held a lot of fish. I was confident I could catch 13-pounds a day off them and then try to find a big bite or two. Each day that big bite came off something different and I was able to look at my Humminbird LakeMaster® mapping to be able to find similar areas and replicate that big bite pattern.”

After coming into the week as a favorite to win, it wasn’t as simple as many may have thought. While Thrift has thousands of waypoints to run on his Humminbird fish finders, there were key moments for him that manifested his championship victory.

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“This week Humminbird MEGA Live™ and MEGA 360 Imaging® were absolutely crucial in getting a limit of solid fish every single day of competition. I couldn’t have won without them,” added Thrift. “I was able to pull into my areas, see the bait and cover on MEGA Live to help me make precise casts. But, while MEGA Live is getting all the attention now, MEGA 360 is worth its weight in gold.”

“I can see absolutely everything around me at all times and was able to see fish moving throughout the creek channels, rock piles, and I had some super key bites that helped me win because of it. If you’re fishing creek channels, flats and rock piles without MEGA 360, you’re missing out on fish.” added Thrift.

“The way these fish were setting up, your first cast was so important. If you weren’t positioned perfectly, you weren’t presenting your bait just right and the fish would spook and become harder to catch,” added Thrift. “While I was targeting my school of fish on MEGA 360 and MEGA Live, I had my Minn Kota Ultrex in Spot-Lock® to place my boat in the perfect position for the best cast possible. When I made my move shallow to find a big bite. My Minn Kota Raptors™ locked me in place to hit every high-percentage target perfectly while fishing around docks.”

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Throughout a five day MLF championship event, consistency is the most important thing to earn a victory. Fish management, waypoint management and understanding how the lake will change over five days couldn’t have been more highlighted than this week in Charlotte, North Carolina with some of the world’s best anglers competing for $300,000. For Thrift, the weight of that accomplishment almost means more than the title itself.

After an impressive championship-winning performance this week adding to an already impressive resume, North Carolina’s favorite son is hungry for more.

“I really can’t put this week into words. I now have two major championship wins and one of them is in my backyard. Not many anglers can say that, and it feels super special that I can be one of them. I have been so close to winning a MLF Bass Pro Tour event and to do it finally and have it be at REDCREST is unbelievable. It makes me even hungrier for 2024.” concluded Thrift.

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“There is no question that Thrift is one of the best and most consistent professional bass anglers in the world,” said Humminbird and Minn Kota Field Promotions Manager, Tim Price. “The amount of work he has dedicated to his craft throughout his lifetime and the time he still continues to put forth, it was no surprise to us seeing him come out on top in this championship event. Our team here at Humminbird and Minn Kota could not be more thrilled for him and his family with this victory.“

About Johnson Outdoors

JOHNSON OUTDOORS FISHING is comprised of the Humminbird®, Minn Kota® and Cannon® brands. Humminbird is a leading global innovator and manufacturer of marine electronics products including fish finders, multifunction displays, autopilots, ice flashers, and premium cartography products. Minn Kota is the world’s leading manufacturer of electric trolling motors, as well as a complete line of shallow water anchors, battery chargers and marine accessories. Cannon is the leader in controlled-depth fishing and includes a full line of downrigger products and accessories.

Visit Humminbird at

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Visit Cannon at

JOHNSON OUTDOORS is a leading global outdoor recreation company that inspires more people to experience the awe of the great outdoors with innovative, top-quality products. The company designs, manufactures and markets a portfolio of winning, consumer-preferred brands across four categories: Watercraft, Fishing, Diving and Camping.

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