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Wicked weather spoils American Fishing Series opener

Wicked weather spoils American Fishing Series opener
Brutal weather spoiled day one of the inaugural FLW American Fishing Series event.

ZAPATA, Texas - For the past three years, FLW Outdoors has commenced the tournament season on Falcon Lake, perhaps the best black bass fishery in the world. Anglers from across the United States travel to the Texas-Mexico border to avoid the cold weather and battle some trophy fish. Truly, Falcon is an event many look forward to for months. But this time around, there are more frowns than grins.

The long faces are a direct result of a powerful front that is making Zapata feel more like North Dakota than Texas. Sustained winds of 30 mph made the 40-degree weigh-in temperature feel much colder. Instead of shorts, long johns were the crucial garment on day one.

The weather was so bad that fishing the main lake was nearly out of the question, and most anglers were just happy to be back safe. Thankfully a cold front in south Texas doesn't completely shut down the bite like it does in Florida.

Just ask pro leader Michael Yoder, who caught an impressive five-bass limit weighing 38 pounds, 4 Pro Michael Yoder caught a 38-pound, 4-ounce stringer Thursday to lead day one of the FLW American Fishing Series tournament on Falcon Lake.ounces.

"I went about 18 miles south towards the dam," said Yoder, the only pro to surpass the coveted 30-pound mark. "The bite was strong. I caught eight fish, and I was done by 11 a.m. Then my co-angler caught a nice kicker, and I decided it was time to head back. But it took about an hour and a half to get back in."

In the process of returning to weigh-in, Yoder had his trolling motor and graph ripped off his boat by violent waves. In addition, he lost four rods to the bottom of the lake. Consider them victims to an angry Falcon. All in all, he said the rollercoaster ride was worth it.

"Practice was just mediocre for me," added the Texarkana, Ark., native. "Today I decided to go to a spot that didn't produce the best in practice, but looked the best to me. I just thought if I could get down there I could catch them, and I did."

Yoder wasn't the only person in his boat sticking fish. His co-angler partner, Matt Weaver, also caught a nice limit. Weaver's weighed 18 pounds, 9 ounces. Clearly, the pro leader is on some quality bass.

Yoder believes the fish themselves have not been affected by the cold weather; it's the anglers that can't get to, and stay on, their fish. Since most of the bass are still prespawn, staying on precise migratory routes is crucial.

"Believe it or not, they're close to moving up. We'll see what this weather brings."

Keith Combs sits in second place after catching a five-bass limit Thursday weighing 29 pounds, 1 ounce.Combs crushes 29 pounds in 30 minutes

In second place is Del Rio, Texas, pro Keith Combs. Combs calls Lake Amistad home, but he is no stranger to Falcon's plentiful waters. He guides on both lakes, and lately Falcon has been out-producing its upstream neighbor.

"I had a good day, but I thought I'd catch more to be honest," said Combs, who finished day one with five bass weighing 29 pounds, 1 ounce. "I had a really good practice."

Combs was boat No. 9 this morning. After reaching his spot, he had all of his weight in his Ranger livewell within a half-hour. That was crucial, because by 11 a.m. he was no longer able to hold his position in the main river channel.

"I'm flipping a lane between two trees. I'm using big worms and creature baits on Power Tackle Rods. These fish are so strong you need to lean on them immediately to get them out of the trees. These flipping sticks have been crucial."

After weigh-in, Combs was pleasantly surprised with his position on the leaderboard.

"They've been biting. I never would have expected to be in second with 29-1. To fish for the win, I've got to catch as much as I can tomorrow. A guy can stumble on 40 pounds fast on this lake."

Mullins third with Big Bass
After catching a limit worth 28 pounds even, Randy White sits in fourth place in the Pro Division.
In third place with five bass weighing 28 pounds, 13 ounces is David Mullins of Coppell, Texas. Like Yoder, Mullins finished early and weighed his catch early.

Anchoring his solid limit was the Pro Division Big Bass. The Falcon Lake giant weighed 11 pounds, 12 ounces and earned Mullin $600.

White fourth

Randy White exceded his expectations on day one by catching five bass worth 28 pounds even.

"The bite was far better for me today than it has been," said the Haslet, Texas, pro. "I must have culled at least six times. This weather has been a plus."

Like most, White sought protection from the wind in nearby pockets. But unlike most, he caught his fish shallow.

"I think some of the bigger fish have already moved up and committed. Whether they are still there tomorrow remains to be seen."

Fifth-place pro Tim Reneau holds up part of his 27-pound, 3-ounce stringer from day one. Reneau fifth

Tim Reneau, also of Del Rio, Texas, rounded out the top five in the Pro Division with a limit weighing 27 pounds, 3 ounces. Fishing fans may remember Reneau finished second at the first major tournament ever held on Falcon in 2008.

"I fished the main lake for as long as I could today," he said. "I caught two big fish and lost another. But that was it. I have no batteries left - cranking or trolling. It was that rough."

Reneau said he is working three small spots he found in practice. All three are in what he described as the mid-depth range.

"These are just little bitty spots. With this wind, you can't make the right cast and you can't stay on the spot. Tomorrow should be better."

Rest of the best

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

6th: Bill Glascock of Kingston, Okla., 25-15
7th: Justin Morton of Etoile, Texas, 25-8
8th: Michael Herron of Paris, Texas, 25-7
9th: Dave Parsons of Yantis, Texas, 25-3
10th: Billy Cline of Grapevine, Texas, 24-15

Bennett bags biggest co-angler sack

San Angelo, Texas, native Barry Bennett caught a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces to lead day one of the tournament in the Co-angler Division.

Anchoring Bennett's limit was the Co-angler Division Big Bass. His Falcon monster weighed 9 pounds, 3 ounces and was worth $400. Bennett caught his fish behind Tolar, Texas, pro Toby Wallace.

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

2nd: Bo Standley of Silsbee, Texas, 20-1
3rd: Tom Jeser of El Paso, Texas, 19-1
4th: Weaver of Sweetwater, Texas, 18-9
5th: Bob Grady of Denton, Texas, 17-7
6th: Donny Davis of Livingston, La., 17-2
7th: Jeff Turner of Lufkin, Texas, 16-7
8th: Steve Hope of Ovilla, Texas, 16-0
9th: Robert Shields of Graland, Texas, 15-13
10th: Michael Taylor of Sam Rayburn, Texas, 15-1

Day two of Texas Division competition on Falcon Lake begins as the field 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  2010-01-07-falcon-lake 

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