November 3, 2006 by Rob Newell
DECATUR, Ala. - Those pros hoping for a drop in water level on day three of the Stren Series Championship got what they wanted - and then some.
Some pros estimated that Wheeler's water levels dropped as much as 2 feet overnight in some areas, leaving some of the top 10 finalists' primary areas high and dry Friday.
As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for because you just may get it.
Ricky D. Scott of Van Buren, Ark., went to his best bank this morning only to find many of the lay-downs and stumps he had been fishing all week on dry ground.
As with other anglers, the water level sent Scott scrambling, and he adapted nicely with a dominating 16-pound, 2-ounce catch to take a nearly 6-pound lead in the Stren Series Championship.
"I've had to fish new water every day to adapt to these conditions," Scott said. "First it was the rain, then the wind and now the bottom has fallen out of the place. It's crazy."
But one pattern Scott has put to use all over the lake this week is fishing mud lines with a white-bladed spinnerbait.
Yesterday he discovered one productive mud line pouring out of a creek where his spinnerbait scored several keepers. But when he returned there this morning, the creek had cleared up and there was no more mud line.
"My first place was bone dry, my second place, the mud line, had cleared up, so I went searching again," he said.
Late this afternoon, Scott noticed another mud line formed by boat traffic, and when he began rolling his gaudy spinnerbait through the clouds of off-colored water he got a couple of surprises: two bass in the 4- to 5-pound class, which anchored his large limit.
"I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow," he said. "Several big yachts created the mud line with their wake - I sure hope they come back by tomorrow."
Kenney grinds for second
J.T. Kenney of Daytona Beach, Fla., has been grinding out respectable limits the last three days by finesse fishing Shaky Worms in the mouths of small creeks and cuts along the main river.
Today he brought in five bass for an even 10 pounds to take second place.
Kenney reported catching lots of fish each day, but many are small and he's itching to "swing on some big ones."
"I'm not going to those flats until they get right," Kenney said. "As long as it's windy, I'm going to keep grinding with the finesse stuff up in the river. But if it gets calm tomorrow, as soon as my fifth keeper hits the well, I'm headed to those mats with the big stick."
Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa., refuses to leave the top five at the Championship. Today he again held his ground in third with a 7-pound, 14-ounce limit.
"I'm still in survival mode," Lefebre said. "The water dropping so fast like that killed me. Most of the time falling water helps concentrate the fish. But this week, rising water helped concentrate my fish. The first day, I caught that big bag by fishing little flooded mats with about a foot of water under them. Now those mats are on dry ground, and the big fish have not dropped back where I thought they would."
Lefebre has been making do with a Kinami Nories Bug and 8-pound-test Gamma fluorocarbon.
"That's my survival kit," he said. "When things get tough like they have been, I go to that Nories bug on light line, and it works."
Le moves to fourth
Moving into his best position of the week, Thanh Le of Las Vegas caught five bass for 7 pounds, 13 ounces to move into fourth place.
Le has spent the week Carolina rigging baby brush hogs along main-river ledges in the Decatur Flats area.
"I'm not really fishing up on the flats," he clarified. "I'm out on the main channel with my boat in about 12 feet of water, casting up into 4 or 5 feet and dragging down those ledges."
Ott Defoe of Knoxville, Tenn., was another angler who was displaced from his best fishing area by falling water today, and he had to scramble to scratch up five bass for 6 pounds, 11 ounces for fifth place.
"I could still get back into my best spot - barely," Defoe said. "But the main problem was most of the wood targets were on dry land, and the water was so clear in there I could see the fish. They get real spooky when it gets like that, and they're almost impossible to catch. Plus, I started to worry about getting stuck back there, so I came back up towards the ramp to finish out my limit."
The final day of the Stren Series Championship begins at 7 a.m. Saturday at Ingalls Marina on Wheeler Lake.