UPCOMING EVENT: ABU GARCIA COLLEGE FISHING - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

The best is yet to come

The best is yet to come
The Day 1 leader at the Stren Series Texas Division tournament on Sam Rayburn Lake is Charles Bebber of Willis, Texas, who wowed the crowd at the weigh-in with a 25 pound, 7 ounce bag that included this 9 pound, 1 ounce beauty, big fish of the day in the pro division.

JASPER, Texas - The bass are moving up on Sam Rayburn Lake, and so are the prospects of the Stren Series anglers fishing in the second Texas Division tournament of the year.

It's no secret that spawning season is the best time to fish this massive eastern Texas reservoir, and in the past few days, the bite has improved with a slow, steady increase in the daily air temperature. Thursday it hit 81 degrees, and tomorrow's high is forecast to hit 79. That consistency bodes well for the 404 pros and co-anglers battling for a check.

The top of the pro leaderboard looks typical for a Sam Rayburn tournament, with five weights of 20 pounds or more. But among co-anglers, just one competitor topped 20 pounds.

Leading the Pro Division with 25 pounds, 7 ounces is Charles Bebber of Willis, Texas, who is shooting for his first Stren Series win. Perhaps the pressure to perform that feat is why Bebber was so tight-lipped about his tactics Thursday.

"I'd rather not say right now," Bebber replied when asked how he caught his five-fish limit, which included the Big Bass of the day at 9 pounds, 1 ounce worth $450. "I'll be happy to share all that after the tournament."

Bebber was willing to say that he's running from spot to spot in a creek arm and that he caught a fish about every 45 minutes.

Cecil fishes for redemption

Russell Cecil of Willis, Texas, finished second here last year and is in the same place after day one with 23 pounds, 4 ounces. He also found a consistent bite, and when he knew he had a 20-pound bag, he left that spot and looked for another that might produce as well. If he found it he didn't say, but he did divulge his tactics: Carolina rigging an 8-inch lizard and flipping a Fighting Frog.

But while others are looking for fish moving up, Cecil is hitting on fish moving out. His entire bag consisted of long, skinny, spawned-out females.

"I hope I can get more of these tomorrow," Cecil said. "I've let two opportunities here slip through my hands, so I want to make good this time."

The eyes have it for Tutt

With bright, sunny skies and calm water, Thursday was perfect for sight-fishing. Few do it as well inJim Tutt of Longview, Texas landed in third place after Day 1 with help from fish like this, which anchored a 22 pound, 7 ounce sack. the Stren circuit as Jim Tutt of Longview, Texas, who holds down third place with 22 pounds, 7 ounces. He said he found a hot bite by throwing a variety of soft plastics to the beds and that he hopes to improve on his 52nd-place showing in the division opener on Falcon Lake. For that to happen, he's hoping the sight bite prevails.

"It was consistent all day," said Tutt, who has two previous Stren Series wins. "I haven't done much of this lately, but today the conditions were perfect. There's a lot of boats where I'm fishing, but it's a big area, and you can't worry about that."

Gaia says they're gone

While Tutt looks for the sight bite to prevail, Andy Gaia of Tomball, Texas, believes it might be over, at least for him. It would be a shame if he can't find an alternative tactic, for he's currently in fourth place with 21 pounds, 11 ounces.

Andy Gaia of Tomball, Texas finished Day 1 with 21 pounds, 11 ounces, good for fourth place in the pro division."I'm not seeing any more fish there," Gaia said of his sight-fishing spots.

If more fish don't move up, Gaia said he will explore new water with the same Senko bait that's worked for him all week.

Win one for the company

Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas, helped design the bait that worked best for him Thursday: Kicker Fish Bait Company's Kicker Craw.

"I used them all day, and I culled six or seven fish," Bird said. "I'm doing something else besides sight-fishing, but I'll tell you about that later."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros after day one of the Stren Texas event on Sam Rayburn:

6th: Toby Hartsell, Livingston, Texas, 19 pounds, 9 ounces
7th: Wade Grooms, Bonneau, S.C., 19 pounds, 8 ounces
8th: Harmon Davis, Marlow, Okla., 18 pounds, 15 ounces
9th: Todd Castledine, Nacogdoches, Texas, 18 pounds, 1 ounce
10th: Rob Burns, Plano, Texas, 17 pounds, 6 ounces

Top the co-angler division with a Cherry

In three years on the Stren Series co-angler circuit, Danny Cherry of Kountze, Texas, has two top-10Danny Cherry of Kountze, Texas pulled 21 pounds of bass from Sam Rayburn Lake on Thursday, which was good for the lead in the co-angler division. Cherry finishes. He finished 11th in points last year in the Texas Division and aims to make a big leap forward this year.

He's off to a good start here. Cherry, who lives an hour away in Kountze and who considers Sam Rayburn his home water, said he knew what he would fish with when he got here: a 6-inch Senko.

"I lay it on the bottom and let the fish take it," Cherry said. "Sometimes it takes 10 seconds, sometimes a minute and a half. You got to throw it in the bald spot to catch them."

Cherry's bite started slow and then came on strong. At noon he said he had five little fish in the livewell, but by 3 p.m. he had 21 pounds.

Big bass propels Harvey into second

Rusty Harvey of Nederland, Texas, who tied for Big Bass honors in the Co-angler Division with an 8-pound, 9-ounce hog worth $112, said he caught the fish on a Brush Hog in 2 feet of water.

Rusty Harvey took home $112 Thursday for catching this 9 pound, 8 ounce bass, which tied him for big bass of the day honors in the co-angler division."I'd seen her before," said Harvey, whose overall bag weighed 17 pounds, 11 ounces. "I made a long cast, and she took it."

He said the bite was slow in the morning, but when the air temperature warmed, the fish started moving up. He said he didn't have a fish in the livewell until 12:30 p.m.

Embry in third

Joe Embry of Tyler, Texas, is in third place in the Co-angler Division with 16 pounds, 4 ounces.

Honeycutt looks deeper

Keith Honeycutt of Temple, Texas, said he caught all his fish in 6 to 8 feet on a Berkley Frenzy.

"I was after fish that maybe were up there in the shallows and backed off when it got colder," said Honeycutt, whose day-one weight was 15 pounds, 5 ounces.

Brumfield slows down

Kevin Brumfield of Madison, Miss., figured out a tactic that served him well Thursday.

"I was fishing a small Senko worm really slow," said Brumfield, who's in fifth place in the Co-angler Division with 15 pounds. "Whenever I thought I was fishing too slow, I slowed down some more. I figured this out yesterday during practice."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers after day one of the Stren Texas event on Sam Rayburn:

6th: Jeff Lobaugh, Emory, Texas, 14 pounds, 7 ounces
7th: Steven Francis, Brookeland, Texas, 14 pounds
8th: Claude Rabb, Vidalia, La., 13 pounds, 14 ounces
9th: Buddy Hicks, Port Neches, Texas, 13 pounds, 10 ounces
10th: Will Welch, San Angelo, Texas, 12 pounds, 10 ounces

Friday's takeoff is scheduled for 7 a.m. at the Umphrey Family Pavilion off Route 255 north of Jasper. Weigh-in begins at the pavilion at 3 p.m.

Tags: vince-meyer  headline-story  2009-03-19-sam-rayburn 

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