November 4, 2006 by Rob Newell
DECATUR, Ala. - From the time Ricky D. Scott of Van Buren, Ark., noticed giant gizzard shad swimming in bunches around hard structure in Wheeler Lake, he began formulating a tournament strategy that involved big spinnerbaits.
For four days of the Stren Series Championship, Scott put that strategy to use to catch enough bass to win the event with a two-day total of 23 pounds, 8 ounces.
Saturday, Scott slipped off his five-fish-per-day pace and brought in only four bass weighing 7 pounds, 6 ounces, but it was enough to bolster his 16-pound, 2-ounce catch from day three and fend off a charge from Florida's J.T. Kenney for the win.
"I really had to scramble today," Scott said after collecting $125,000 for his win. "Everything that has worked for me all week kind of fizzled out today, and I had to cover new water. Even though I had a 6-pound lead from yesterday, I really thought I left the door open today with just four fish."
Scott employed two homemade spinnerbaits this week. His most productive one was a 3/8-ounce model that featured two large white willow blades, a No. 4 1/12 and a No. 5, a white skirt and a red head.
The other spinnerbait was a 1-ounce model that featured a large No. 7 hammered blade.
"We have those gizzard shad back home, and those are the spinnerbaits I throw to mimic the big shad," Scott said. "I look for windy banks, shady banks and mud lines, and that's pretty much what I did here."
Scott stayed around the Decatur area all week, between Ingalls Harbor and the bridges. Some of his best spots included bank riprap, the bridge riprap, barge tie-ups, various mud lines and one particular soybean factory.
"My best spot on day one was that soybean plant," Scott revealed. "When it would rain, it would wash that soybean residue into the water, and the shad would stack up in there thick, feeding on it, and the bass weren't far behind."
But when the rain quit after day one, the soybean-wash pattern died.
"That's when I had to just start fishing," he said. "Several of my best fish on days two and three came on the white spinnerbait from mud lines created by wind or boat traffic."
Another key spot for Scott was the barge tie-up at the soybean plant.
"Those shad would get up there and bump against that tie-up," he said. "And that's where I used the big 1-ounce spinnerbait. I'd pitch it up there and let it flutter down the tie-up."
For his win, Scott was also the highest-finishing pro from the Central Division, giving him a berth into the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup.
J.T. Kenney of Daytona Beach, Fla., ground out another 9 pounds, 4 ounces today to finish second with a two-day total of 19 pounds, 4 ounces worth $55,000.
Kenney relied on an 1/8-ounce Spot Sticker jighead teamed with a Reaction Innovations new large Flirt Worm on 8-pound-test Vanish line.
He fished the finesse rig on G. Loomis' new 822 Shaky Head Rod.
"I was just running creek mouths, current breaks and eddies all up and down the river," Kenney said. "There was nothing special about it. I covered new water each day, just fishing whatever looked good."
Kenney did make one last stand on the Decatur Flats vegetation late this afternoon to no avail.
"I went back to where I caught them the first day and punched some vegetation, but it had all changed from three days ago, and it just didn't work."
In addition, Kenney took the Northeast Division ticket to the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup as well.
Lefebre winds up third
Bringing in the biggest limit of the day for 10 pounds, 3 ounces was Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa. The last-round charge took him to third place with a two-day total of 18 pounds, 1 ounce worth $38,000.
Late in the day, Lefebre got on a topwater toad bite.
"At about 1:30, I saw a fish bust," he said. "So I pulled out the Stanley Ribbit, and the big ones started crushing it, but I couldn't get them in the boat. I had seven big blowups and only caught two - the two best fish I weighed in."
Lefebre reported catching his other keepers earlier in the day on a Kinami Nories Bug.
Defoe battles to fourth
Ott Defoe of Knoxville, Tenn., brought in an impressive limit weighing 9 pounds, 3 ounces to finish in fourth place worth $31,000.
"Since I couldn't get into my best spot with the water down, I started right here at the ramp this morning," he said. "I threw a Bandit 100 crankbait and Mimic crankbait on the riprap there by the ramp until I culled at about 9:30."
From there, Defoe went into the back of a creek on the lower end and flipped a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver to cull up several more times.
Defoe also nabbed a spot in the 2007 Forrest Wood Cup for being the highest Stren Championship finisher from the Southeast Division.
Le winds out top five
Thanh Le of Las Vegas stuck to his Carolina rigging game plan to catch five fish weighing 7 pounds, 11 ounces to finish fifth with a two-day total of 15 pounds, 8 ounces worth $24,000.
Le reported catching his fish on baby brush hogs in green-pumpkin and watermelon colors.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros in the 2006 Stren Series Championship:
6th: Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., two day total of 14-14; $22,000
7th: Stacey King of Reeds Springs, Mo., two day total of 11-0; $11,000
8th: Jason Borofka of Salinas, Calif., two day total of 7-12; $15,000
9th: Mark Shepard of Labelle, Fla., two day total of 6-6; $9,000
10th: Sam Bass of Section, Ala., two day total of 5-15; $18,000