UPCOMING EVENT: FLW SERIES - 2020 - Toledo Bend Lake

The secret is out: Falcon is on fire

The secret is out: Falcon is on fire
Pro Bob Ramsdell shows off his tournament-leading five-bass stringer. These fish weighed 34 pounds, 13 ounces.

ZAPATA, Texas - The pretournament hype surrounding the season-opening Stren Series Texas Division event on Falcon Lake ended as the scales opened at 3 p.m. When they closed at 6:07 p.m. most people couldn't believe their eyes. On top of the leaderboard was a five-bass limit caught by Bob Ramsdell that weighed 34 pounds 13 ounces - the fourth-heaviest five-bass limit ever recorded in FLW Outdoors history.

South Texas' best kept secret is officially out. Falcon Lake is on the map and perhaps no other fishery in the country is as hot. How good was it? Twenty pounds of bass on the pro side, a tournament-winning stringer at most lakes, was good enough for 66th place. Veteran pro Tommy Martin caught the biggest bass of his 35-year tournament career and it didn't even hold up as the Snickers Big Bass of the day.

A total of 2,794 pounds of bass were caught by 150 pros and the Co-angler Division managed a stout 2,021 pounds. In total, 4,816 pounds of bass were caught, which is the sixth-heaviest single-day catch in FLW Outdoors history. Consider that the five single-day catches above it all had full fields of 400 fishermen and this tournament only has 300 entrants.

Furthermore, Stren Series Tournament Director Ron Lappin counted 96 fish that were weighed for big bass. Several pros were actually describing 23- and 24-pound bags as a tough day. But as good as it Tommy Martin shows off his 11-pound, 9-ounce Falcon Lake bass.was, it could get even better. If the water warms up a few degrees this lake will explode. Although hundreds of 5- to 7-pound bass made it to the scale, the 10-pounders were mostly shy.

Ramsdell's leading stringer roughly consisted of a 10-pounder, two 7-pounders and two 5-pounders. He estimated he caught 20 keepers throughout the day. Ironically, his co-angler partner, Mike Taylor, was culling off 20 pounds before Ramsdell got going.

"I had the water and he had the bait," said the pro leader. "We turned out to be a great team. The only thing more enjoyable than leading the tournament is that your partner is near the top of the leaderboard also."

Ramsdell's catch of 34-13 eclipsed the previous mark for the heaviest opening-day catch in a Stren Series event set by Dan Schooveld of Mansura, La. Schooveld's weight of 34-12 was recorded in a Stren Series Texas Division event at Lake Amistad last year.

"The weather was perfect today. During practice we had some windy days, but today the wind was only 5 to 10 mph. The brush on this lake is so thick that it's hard to fish when it's windy."

The Sour Lake, Texas, native said he fished in water 10 feet or less. But that's all he was willing to divulge at this stage of the game.

"We weighed in 60 pounds of bass and threw back another 40. What a day. What a lake."

Owens second with 31

BASS veteran Kelly Owens had no problem acclimating to his first FLW Outdoors tournament. The pro from Crowley, La., caught a limit that weighed 31 pounds, 3 ounces. His biggest bass weighed 10-4 and his smallest keeper went 4-2.

Pro Kelly Owens is in second place after catching 31 pounds, 3 ounces. "We had a great morning bite," said Owens. "We had a limit by 8:30 and all our weight by 10:30 this morning."

Owens' success is somewhat surprising considering this is the first time he's ever laid eyes on the lake.

"This area I knew had a lot of fish but you never really know until you start casting. This is a marathon in its own right and I don't know if I have enough fish to hold up."

Owens said both he and his co-angler partner, Bill Rogers, flipped plastics. Rogers is one of the best in the game from the back of the boat and he caught 24-5 himself - an indication of the quality of fish Owens is around.

Still, the Stren Series rookie isn't getting greedy.

"Tomorrow is the real test. I'd be ecstatic with another 20 to 25 pounds."

Hartsell third

Pro Toby Hartsell, the Texas Division veteran from Livingston, Texas, caught a limit weighing 31 pounds, 2 ounces for third place. Hartsell's best five included a 9 1/2-pounder, a 7-pounder and several 5-pounders.

Toby Hartsell is third in the Pro Division after catching 31 pounds, 2 ounces Wednesday."There's fish moving up every hour," he said, describing the spawn. "It's only going to get better."

Although Hartsell isn't sightfishing, he is targeting bedding bass in a ditch that is anywhere from 3 to 14 feet deep. To catch those fish, he's flipping with 30-pound fluorocarbon.

"I guess I caught about 25 keepers. I culled another 21-pound bag so I'm pretty confident I can catch 25 pounds tomorrow."

Two-time TTT Championship winner fourth

David Curtis, the 2007 Texas Tournament Trail Championship winner, has had a difficult week. Three of the last four days he has spent in a hotel room due to illness. He finally started feeling better this morning and from there things improved considerably. It seems that nothing brings a man back to health like a 30-pound limit. Curtis ended the day with an official weight of 30 pounds, 5 ounces.

Fishing hard by burning spinnerbaits and flipping with heavy line, Curtis caught 15 keepers. His heaviest weighed over 8 pounds and he had another that was over 7 pounds.

David Curtis continues to catch bass anywhere he goes. On day one of the Stren Series Texas Division opener on Falcon Lake, he caught a limit worth 30 pounds, 5 ounces."I'm just happy to have my health back and to be back powerfishing," said Curtis, who also finished third at the 2007 Stren Series Championship on the Mobile Delta. "I'm not a finesse fisherman by choice."

Humble as always, the King of Texas has one simple goal for the rest of the week.

"I just hope I can go out there and be respectable the next few days. I lost so much practice time I really don't have a lot to rely on."

Stricklin Jr. fifth

James Stricklin Jr. of Jasper, Texas, rounded out the top five in the Pro Division with a limit weighing 29 pounds, 2 ounces. Stricklin owns the record for the heaviest five-bass limit in FLW Outdoors history. At the season-opening TTT event on Amistad last year, he caught a stringer that weighed 37 pounds even. That record, however, is in serious jeopardy this week.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros after day one on Falcon Lake:

6th: Charles Haralson of Laredo, Texas, 29-1
7th: Thomas Redington of Royse City, Texas, 28-6
8th: Rayborn Waits of Austin, Texas, 28-0
9th: Tim Reneau of Del Rio, Texas., 27-2
10th: Russell Cecil of Willis, Texas, 26-10Michael Herron and Gilbert Herald caught these two monster bass from the same tree.

Each of the top 10 pros caught limits Wednesday. In fact, 134 of the 150 pros caught limits. The Snickers Big Bass went to Michael Herron, who caught a 12-pound, 1-ounce giant. Ironically, his day-one co-angler partner and best friend, Gilbert Herald, caught an 8-pound, 10-ounce bass from the same tree roughly 30 minutes later. Herron's fish was worth $243.

Jones tops co-anglers

Competing in his first Stren Series event and his second FLW Outdoors tournament, Victor Jones of Lake Charles, La., caught five bass weighing 30 pounds, 5 ounces to lead the Co-angler Division after day one on Falcon.

"I'm numb," said Jones, whose opening-day catch ranks as the second heaviest single-day catch for a co-angler in Stren Series history. "It's just amazing. Everybody said it was going to be awesome, but oh Victor Jones was the only co-angler to crack the 30-pound mark on day one. His limit weighed 30-5 to be exact.my.

"It was the best day of fishing that I have ever had. I had a great partner and the fish were really biting."

Jones caught 10 keepers on the day. He used basically the whole tackle box - everything from a Carolina rig to a Rat-L-Trap to spinnerbaits and crankbaits.

"It was on right away in the morning. We saw guys catching fish on every throw. We were in probably 4-6 feet of water and it seemed better on the backside of the boat near deeper water."

Rest of the best

Mike Taylor is second in the Co-angler Division after catching 27-4 on opening day.Taylor finished the day second for the co-anglers with 27 pounds, 4 ounces. But if it wasn't for his lucky bait, Ramsdell might not have the lead in the Pro Division.

"I cut my bait off after I started culling and gave it to him," said the Sam Rayburn, Texas, native. "But it was all his water.

"It was almost like we were in a dream. The lake was fantastic and the weather was perfect."

Mannie Lackey is in third place on the co-angler side after catching 26-8 Wednesday.In third place was Mannie Lackey of Kerrville, Texas, with 26 pounds, 8 ounces. Lackey was partnered with Haralson, who guides on Falcon and has won countless local tournaments.

"My expectation was to catch 16 or 17 pounds and I far exceeded that," Lackey said. "To draw him (Haralson), that was a pleasure. I knew we were going to have a good time and I knew we were going to catch a lot of fish. But tomorrow is a new day."

Robert Arnold of Little Rock, Ark., placed fourth for the co-anglers with five bass weighing 26 pounds, 1 ounce.

Co-angler Zac Cassill of Fairfax, Iowa, is fifth after catching 25 pounds, 4 ounces on day one. Winona State sophomore Zac Cassill is spending his last week of winter vacation fishing near the Mexico border. On day one, the Fairfax, Iowa, native caught 25 pounds, 4 ounces, which was good enough for fifth place after day one.

"I've been doing something different and it's really been working," said the double major in geology and ecology. "I've been catching 20 to 25 pounds a day during practice. I love this place."

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers after day one on Falcon Lake:

6th: Herald of Pittsburg, Texas, 24-9
7th: Eduardo Alanis of Roma, Texas, 24-5
7th: Rogers of Jasper, Texas, 24-5
9th: Ronald Risenhoover of Lufkin, Texas, 24-1
10th: Wally Watts of Gatesville, Texas, 23-4Eduardo Alanis is in seventh place in the Co-angler Division. He also caught the Snickers Big Bass for the co-anglers on day one, a lunker that weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces.

Alanis also caught the Snickers Big Bass in the Co-angler Division. His Falcon monster weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces and was worth $128.

Day two of Texas Division competition on Falcon Lake begins as the field of 150 boats takes off from the Beacon Lodge at 7 a.m. Central time Thursday.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2008-01-09-falcon-lake 

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