UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Eufaula

Eight over 30 equals Falcon feast

Eight over 30 equals Falcon feast
Pro leader Richard Cathey holds up part of his 39-pound, 1-ounce stringer.

ZAPATA, Texas - September rainfall has dramatically changed the fishing on Falcon Lake. The bushes that produced at last year's Stren Series Texas Division event are now submerged and hidden. Productive stretches of bank once used for spawning are now considered deep ledges. Amid all this change, there is one constant - Falcon Lake is loaded with giant largemouth bass.

Just as predicted, the high water frustrated some anglers. Only 111 pros and 38 co-anglers registered five-bass limits. A 20-pound limit last year would have put a pro in 66th place. This year, a 20-pound limit puts a pro in 43rd.

But there is a select group of fishermen that has identified key areas. Within theses areas, huge prespawn bass are grouped up, and a 30-pound limit can be caught in a hurry. Capitalizing on one of these schools was Rick Cathey, who on Thursday caught the second-heaviest limit in FLW Outdoors history - five bass weighing a staggering 39 pounds, 1 ounce. The only heavier single-day catch came from Greg Hackney (39-8), not surprisingly on this very lake two months ago.

Although Cathey lives in San Antonio, Texas, he owns and operates the Fish Texas Guide Service and spends approximately six to 10 days a month guiding on Falcon. He's fished the Walmart BFL in the past, but this is his first Stren Series event.

"This is kind of what I expected," Cathey said of his day-one catch. "That's not so much me; it's more of a reflection of the lake."

Cathey has discovered five productive areas located in a quarter section of the lake - one of which he calls his big-fish spot. All of these spots hold prespawn bass, and the pro leader is pitching and dragging to entice strikes.

"You're either really, really on them, or you're really, really not. The ones we are catching are quality, but we aren't catching a ton."

To this point, Cathey culled only three times. His smallest fish weighed just less than 7 pounds, and his largest went 9-3. Oddly enough, all of these fish were boated without the aid of a net.

It sounds unbelievable, but Cathey caught a 56-pound limit on Falcon last week while guiding. In that trip, he managed seven fish over 10 pounds. For those that want to see what a five-bass limit of 56 pounds looks like, visit www.rickcathey.com. Once the Stren Series event concludes, the pro leader will upload both photos and video of his astonishing 56-pound catch.

With nearly a 6-pound lead, Cathey is just looking to be consistent tomorrow.

"If I can catch 25 pounds, I think I'll be happy."

Haralson second with 33-11

ICharles Haralson is in second place in the Pro Division with a limit Thursday that went 33-11.n second place is Laredo, Texas, pro Charles Haralson, another angler who frequently guides on Falcon Lake. Haralson finished fourth at last year's season-opening Texas Division event. Unlike Cathey, who works in the pharmaceutical field, Haralson guides full time with Bassin on the Border and spends approximately 250 days a year on Falcon.

On day one, he calmly caught 33-11, nearly all of which were identical 7-pounders. Haralson is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable fishermen in southern Texas and has won several fully rigged bass boats from fishing local tournaments.

"I didn't really know what I could catch," he said. "I haven't been catching them in practice - I've just been looking for them. But overall, I'm pleased."

Like Cathey, Haralson is fishing deep and slow, as he probes for prespawn largemouths.

"We were done fishing at 8:30 this morning. I culled two 5-pounders, and then I decided I was done. You've got to manage what you have. If I get beat, I get beat. But nobody can beat me on the first day."

If Haralson reaches 30 pounds early tomorrow, he will again quit fishing. During the opening round, 30 pounds each day is his benchmark. If he makes it to Saturday's final round, he will try to catch everything he can.

"All of those fish came out of one spot. This morning the bite was on, and we just had a blast. I tried to relax for a second, and I realized I was shaking."

Schoonveld third

Pro Dan Schoonveld, a Texas Division veteran from Mansura, La., caught a limit weighing 33 pounds, Third-place pro Dan Schoonveld holds up a Falcon Lake kicker bass.9 ounces for third place. Like Haralson, Schoonveld had a stringer in which every fish was nearly identical in size. His biggest bass weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces, which was caught on a soft-plastic bait.

"We quit fishing at 10 a.m. and sat there all day until weigh-in," said Schoonveld, who also guides in the area. "The fish are everywhere right now - from the bank all the way back to 30 feet. But the bank fish are getting pressured real hard."

Not only did Schoonveld manage an incredible catch, his co-angler reeled in 31 pounds, 9 pounces. Clearly, the third-place pro is around tournament-winning bass.

"I just hope I get some respect tomorrow. I just put on a clinic this morning, and about four other boats saw me. The fishing is really good right now, but in another week it's going to be unbelievable. A week later and we would have broken every record there is."

Le rides a hot streak

Fresh off a second-place finish at the Clarks Hill FLW Series BP Eastern Division event and a head-to-Pro Than Le is in fourth place after catching 31 pounds, 4 ounces Thursday.head victory at the East-West Fish-Off, Than Le is back at it. Le is a well-known Western stick and a top performer on the FLW Tour. However, the Arizona pro has never fished a Texas Division event.

"It's true; I came down here for the Fish-Off, and I haven't gone home to Lake Havasu City. I've been fishing every day, and I've found that the deeper and more scattered a tree is, the more productive it is. I've been fishing one spot for over a month, and I've been averaging 25 to 30 pounds a day."

Le believes he is targeting mainly postspawn fish, not prespawn, as he flips bushes. On day one the plan worked to the tune of 31 pounds, 4 ounces.

"With the wind blowing tomorrow, I might not be able to stay on my fish. There's a lot there, but it's all about getting the right ones to bite."

Since Le is not fishing any other Texas Division events, his goal is to take home the title. Maybe then he will finally leave the town of Zapata.

Vining fifth

Gary Vining of Morgan City, La., rounded out the top five in the Pro Division with a limit weighing 29 pounds, 9 ounces.

Rest of the best

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

6th: Dicky Newberry of Houston, 29-2
7th: Ray Hanselman of Del Rio, Texas, 28-15
8th: Jerry Green of Cullman, Ala., 28-11
9th: Joe Don Setina of Pittsburg, Texas, 27-15
10th: Robert McFarlane of San Antonio, Texas, 27-3

The Pro Division Big Bass went to Richard Cremo of Laredo, Texas, who caught a 9-pound, 11-ounce giant and earned $450.

Kreuzer crushes co-angler weight record

Co-angler leader Dean Kreuzer holds up two Falcon Lake hogs.Competing in his first Stren Series Texas Division event, Dean Kreuzer of Mesa, Ariz., caught five bass weighing 34 pounds, 3 ounces to lead the Co-angler Division after day one on Falcon. Not only is he leading the tournament, his 34-3 also set the co-angler record for the heaviest single-day catch in FLW Outdoors history.

"My buddy Steve Czerniski and I came down just to give the lake a try," said Kreuzer. "If neither of us makes the cutoff, then we're going to fish the Bass Champs team tournament on Lake Amistad Saturday. Neither of us wanted to be the pro for this event, so we flipped a coin and I ended up as the co-angler."

Kreuzer had an eventful morning, complete with engine problems and big fish.

"Last night I drew Jim Lancaster as my pro partner. On the way down to our first spot, we had motor problems. We eventually got there and kept working a 120-yard stretch of bank, back and forth."

Kreuzer caught eight fish total, but he gave much of the credit to Lancaster.

"It wouldn't have happened without Jim. We get to our spot after a 30-mile run, and he immediately starts making arrangements for getting back. Luckily, Steve (Czerniski) was in the area, and he brought us both in along with our fish."

The Kreuzer family is no stranger to tournament fishing as Dean's wife, Tanya, competes as a professional on the Women's Bassmaster Tour.

"I get to go play this time because I've been hauling her around for three years."

Slate second
Kevin Slate is second in the Co-angler Division after day one with 32 pounds, 6 ounces.
Currently in second place for the co-anglers is Kevin Slate with 32 pounds, 6 ounces. That weight is third among the all-time heaviest single-day catches in company history for a co-angler. Slate, an electrical engineer for Boeing, is fishing in just his second Stren Series season.

"It was a wild day," he said. "At noon I think I had three decent fish. Then I picked up a good one at about 1 p.m., and then at 2 p.m. the big fish hit."

That fish weighed 9 pounds, 10 ounces and would be the last of Slate's day. The Choctaw, Okla., native received only five bites in total, but he certainly made the best of them.

Slate said he worked plastics throughout the water column while fishing with pro Buz Craft.

Pennington third

In third place was Chris Pennington of San Diego with 31 pounds, 9 ounces. His day-one San Diego, Calif., co-angler Chris Pennington is in third place after the first day of competition.stringer is fourth of all time among the co-anglers, just behind Slate. Pennington was partnered with Schoonveld, who guides on Falcon and knows the lake well.

"That was the biggest sack of my life," he gasped. "I flew all the way out here with a buddy just to fish this lake, and believe me, it was worth it. Dan (Schoonveld) was amazing. I just keyed in on what he was doing. It was amazing - you could be five yards off the spot and you don't get anything."

Tomorrow Pennington is paired with Kellogg's pro Jim Tutt.

Rest of the best

Kenneth Pellerin of Pasadena, Texas, placed fourth for the co-anglers with five bass weighing 30 pounds, 7 ounces.

In fifth place is Keith Honeycutt with 26 pounds, 13 ounces. Honeycutt, a Temple, Texas, native, won the 2007 Stren Series Championship in Mobile, Ala., and made the top-10 cutoff at last year's championship on Table Rock Lake.

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

6th: Paul England of Brookeland, Texas, 24-6
7th: Allen Wares of Austin, Texas, 23-11
8th: Jimmy Brumfield of Madison, Miss., 23-4
9th: Billy Yelverton of Baton Rouge, La., 22-4
10th: Bennie Anderson of Grand Prairie, Texas, 21-11

Kenneth Wilson caught the Co-angler Division Big Bass. His Falcon monster weighed 10 pounds, 4 ounces and was worth $225.

Day two of Texas Division competition on Falcon Lake begins as the field of 200 boats takes off from the Zapata County Boat Ramp at 7:30 a.m. Central time Friday. Following Friday's weigh-in, the field will be cut to the top 10 pros and top 10 co-anglers.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2009-01-15-falcon-lake 

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