October 17, 2009 by David A. Brown
MANY, La. - Despite a slow start, George Jeane Jr. turned around his whole program, refocused his efforts and surged ahead to win the Stren Series Texas Division tournament on Toledo Bend Lake.
Day one saw the Evans, La., pro placing 29th with a small limit weighing 8 pounds, 14 ounces. Assessing his actions and results, he launched on day two with a different game plan and arrived at the weigh-ins with the event's second heaviest catch - a 17-pound, 1-ounce bag. On day three, Jeane returned to his productive pattern and sacked up 15 pounds - the day's largest bag and one of only two final-round limits - for a winning total of 40 pounds, 15 ounces.
Working brush piles in 17 to 22 feet of water, Jeane caught his fish on a chartreuse-blue crankbait and a Texas-rigged 10-inch Berkley Power Worm in red-bug color. He fished his baits on 15-pound Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon line.
Stren anglers faced mostly rainy weather during practice, and with a cold front arriving the evening of day one, the next two days would see the kind of windy, cooler, bright-sky days that can really put the booger on fishing. Nevertheless, Jeane's ability to adjust and execute delivered undeniable results.
"It's been a great week," he said. "After the practice I had, I didn't think I'd be here. But I didn't lose a fish all week. Every fish I stuck, I put in the boat - nothing went wrong."
Jeane's victory earned him a 198VX Ranger boat, motor and trailer package, along with $17,437 cash. In addition to his winnings, Jeane said he was pleased to prevail in his backyard.
"This is my home lake - I live about 14 miles from the dam, so I couldn't pass this one up."
Reneau remains in second
A win surely would have been his preference, but Tim Reneau of Del Rio, Texas, gets props for consistency, having held the second-place spot from start to finish. He caught 16-13 on day one and added 11 pounds a day later. On day three, Reneau caught the only other limit of the final round at 9-9 for a total of 37-6 worth $6,975.
Reneau caught his fish the first two days by flipping a 1-ounce cammo-colored jig with a green-pumpkin Strike King Rage Craw trailer into grass in 12 to 14 feet of water. On day three, he saw an opportunity and took it. To make room for the National Guard FLW College Fishing event, launching from the same facility, Stren finalists were allowed to launch about 25 minutes earlier than they had on the two previous days.
"Today, (tournament officials) let us go so early and it was still dark, so I thought I'd start on a cranking spot," Reneau explained. "I caught three, my co-angler (Timothy Achee) caught five, and he ended up winning his division, so it was a pretty good stop."
Reneau fished a Strike King Series 6 XD crankbait on fluorocarbon line. Once the crankbait bite subsided, he switched back to his jig and rounded out his limit by flipping grass in about 14 feet.
Acknowledging the windy challenge he faced for two days, Reneau said: "With these conditions and running so far south every day, I can't say enough about my Ranger boat and Yamaha motor. They got me there and back each day."
Wind-blown Fralick falls to third
Martin, S.D., pro Jamie Fralick appeared poised for a Cinderella storyline, as he grabbed an unlikely day-one lead with just three fish. Two of his trio came in around the 8-pound mark and his 17-pound, 6-ounce bag ended up as the largest of the tournament. Fralick added his only limit of the event - 11 pounds, 4 ounces - on day two to keep his top spot.
In the final round, Fralick managed only three more fish that weighed 5-4, and he settled for third place with a total of 34-8, earning $5,580.
On days one and two, Fralick caught most of his fish on a Fat Free Shad crankbait over the road bed in 12 feet of water. Flipping docks also yielded a couple of keepers. On day three, the fish seemed noncommittal, and he only stuck one on the crank. Switching to a ¾-ounce V&M football jig with a candy craw trailer enabled him to bag two more keepers.
Finding several opportunities on a spot with lots of bottom structure, Fralick said: "I kept going back to it, and every time I did, I'd get a bite, but the ones I'd catch would be short. I'd hang a good one and he'd break off on the (structure). It was just one of those days - it wasn't meant to be."
ChatterBait delivers fourth for Fuller
Patrick Fuller of Tyler, Texas, also made a big comeback, rising from a day-one finish of 30th place (8-12) to seventh on day two (15-6). He added 7-10 on day three to end in fourth place with 31-12 worth $4,882.
Fishing a white ChatterBait on 15-pound fluorocarbon, Fuller said he stuck with an area that he believed in: "I found some good fish in the back of a creek, and then Tuesday night this huge rain came and muddied it up. But I didn't let the mud bother me; I just stayed in there.
"I was fishing a big flat that had a creek through the middle of it. I was just hitting the points and slow-rolling the bait down the edges of the creek."
Collett moves up to fifth
Robert Collett of Zapata, Texas, continued a steady course of improvement and finished in fifth place for $4,185. He placed 10th on day one with 12-11, moved up to eighth on day two with 10-6 and posted 8-10 in the final round for a total of 31-11.
Collett caught his fish by flipping a jig in grass edges along points. Today's wind severely limited his ability to fish his preferred water.
"That wind yesterday and today shut me down. I had some really good crankbait fish, and I thought I was going to be able to whack `em today, but I was never able to get to them."
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top 10 pro leaders at the Stren Series Toledo Bend event:
6th: Kevin Lasyone of Dry Prong, La., 31-3
7th: Bert Thompson of Benton, La., 31-2
8th: Robert Robinson of Mobile, Ala., 30-4
9th: Tommy Dickerson of Orange, Texas, 28-1
10th: Roger D. Harp of Huntsville, Ark., 26-2