April 4, 2014 by David A. Brown
GROVE, Ok. - With temperatures plummeting and skies taking on that bright blue brilliance that thrills the tourists, but sends the bass reaching for their sunglasses, it's no wonder day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division tournament on Grand Lake. Nevertheless, Walmart pro Wesley Strader made the necessary adjustments and moved into the top spot.
Strader, who hails from Spring City, Tn. Added 15 pounds to his 20-1 from day one and tallied a total of 35-1.
The warming trend that blessed day one with better action than most had seen through several days of practice was short-lived, as a strong front moved through last night. The front dropped air temperatures into the 40's and left the dreaded bluebird skies in its wake.
On day one, Strader reported figuring out a way to turn short-striking bass into catches. He started off that first morning by throwing a Stan Sloan spinnerbait, but found only frustration, as the fish were just bumping the bait. He finally started getting bit after switching to a Strike King Pure Poison vibrating jig.
"Yesterday, they were just bumping the spinnerbait and not eating it," Strader said. "Today, they started doing the same thing with the bait I had to switch to yesterday to get them to eat, but I knew it had to do with the front rolling through.
"I did end up catching two of my better fish on the Pure Poison jig and the rest I caught on a regular flipping jig. But it was a lot slower today. I only had six keeper bites all day and I worked to catch those."
In addition to his bait adjustment, Strader also found he needed to fish different areas today.
"Those better fish I caught yesterday came on the bank and with that cooler weather last night, they pushed off the bank and I just moved out in the middle of the pocket," he said. "I just started slinging around and hitting pieces of wood. There are pieces of wood out that you can't see in the middle of the pocket.
"I was fishing in 3 feet or less and I was having to feel with my lure. That's one thing about that Pure Poison vibrating jig - it does come through timber a little bit better than other jigs."
Strader said the keys to his success were making lots of casts and having confidence that there were fish in the area.
Tackle strategy, Strader said, was also an important factor. "I try to account for the water I'm fishing. For example, in a grassy lake, I would use 20-pound test Toray monofilament with a regular graphite rod. But here, you're fishing more open water, so I used 16-pound high-grade fluorocarbon with a cranking rod. I still have no-stretch line, but my (flexible) rod is compensating for that."
Strader said he caught most of his fish prior to 11 a.m. After that point, fishing got really slow, as those bluebird conditions really did a number on the fish.
Big bag lifts Fox to second
He's known for his weight lifting ability and Travis Fox got a nice workout carrying the day's heaviest bag to the scales. After placing 20th on day one with 14-4, the Rogers, Arkansas pro sacked up 19-9 to rise all the way to second place with a total of 33-13.
Fox also noted that the fish he was catching relatively shallow on day one had moved out deeper. Fox said he was positioning his boat in 20 feet of water and casting a Rapala Shad Rap for suspended fish.
"I just went back to the area where I'd caught them on day one and changed it up because they did move out a little deeper," Fox said. "I had a really good bag - probably 15 pounds - by 9:05, so I had the rest of the day to upgrade.
"I think they were biting all day; I just got out of my main area. I had my three biggest fish in the first hour."
Noting that he often struggles when cold fronts hit lakes holding the ultra-sensitive Florida-strain largemouths, he enjoys the hardiness of Ozarks bass.
"When it gets cold here, I don't think it matters; the bass just keep biting," he said.
Kenney rises to third
Yesterday, Straight Talk pro JT Kenney said he was pleased that he'd figured out a pattern that delivered his fourth-place limit of 18-14. Today, all that went out the window, as the changing weather fiddled with the fish.
"I caught them nowhere that I caught them yesterday and I caught them on a totally different bait," Kenney said. "I used moving baits again, but a little deeper and in totally different areas."
Fishing mostly over gravel/rock bottom, Kenney ended up catching 14-10 today and moved up to third with 33-8.
"I just paid real close attention to the wind and where I was marking bait and that seemed to make all the difference," he said.
Kreiger slips to fourth
Koby Kreiger of Bokeelia, Fla. was the only top-10 finisher to miss a limit. He was short one fish, but with a weight of 13-2, he did okay with the quality.
"I'm catching the right size, but tomorrow I have to catch five," Kreiger said.
Kreiger noted that his new 12-foot Minn Kota Talons afforded him a strategic positioning benefit: "This really helps out when it's windy and you're fishing a bluff wall. You can put a Talon down and it will hold you in one spot."
Kreiger's 2-day total of 32-9 dropped him a notch to fourth. The weather change, he said, made things tough.
"At noon today, I had no fish," he said. "I just put my head down and went fishing. I put my Swimming Frenzy (umbrella rig) in my hand and went casting. I had four bites and caught all four of them."
Scott improves to fifth
Ricky D. Scott, of Van Buren, Ark. caught a limit that weighed 18 pounds and moved in fifth place on day two with 32-5. Scott placed 18th on day one with 14-5.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the Rayovac FLW Series Grand Lake event:
6th: Dale Hightower, of Manford, Ok., 32-0
7th: Bill Tervin, of Pocola, Ok., 31-3
8th: Darrel Robertson, of Jay, Ok., 29-13
9th: Dan Morehead, of Paducah, Ky., 28-14
10th: Stuart Arthur, of Benton, Mo., 28-12
Jerry Lawler took Big Bass honors with his 6-pound, 12-ounce largemouth.
Danhausen holds steady atop co-angler field
Dany Danhausen, of Kankakee, Ill. retained he lead in the co-angler division by adding 10 pounds, 1 ounce to her day-one weight of 16-6 and posting a 26-7 total.
"I noticed in the morning, it was harder to fish," she said. "I talked it over with my boater and we moved to a different spot. It seemed like the fish moved out from where they were yesterday."
Using the same plastics that she fished on day one, Danhausen said the only difference in her presentation was deeper water today.
"I caught most of my fish from mid-morning through the afternoon," she said. "Once the sun came up and started warming things up, we started to get some bites."
Charles Parker, of Broken Arrow, Ok., placed second with 25-2, while Jay Scott, of Jay, Ok., took third with 22-11. In fourth place, George Kapiton, of Inverness, Fla. had 21-11 and Bradley Smith, of Saint Jacob, Ill., was fifth with 21-7.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 co-angler leaders at the Rayovac FLW Series Grand Lake event:
6th: Michael Stricklin, of Vidalia, La., 20-8
7th: Troy Lowery, or Shattuc, Ill., 19-2
8th: Justin Tye, of Westville, Ok., 18-14
9th: David Blankenship, of Cushing, Ok., 18-10
10th: John Diffee, of Owasso, Ok., 17-12
David Blankenship and Arnold Payne Jr. tied for Big Bass honors in the Co-angler Division with twin 6-pound, 5-ounce bass.
Day three of Rayovac FLW Series Central Division action on Grand Lake continues at Saturday's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7:00 a.m. (Central) at Wolf Creek Park in Grove, Ok.