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This week we spoke with MLF’s 2018 Summit Select Champion Wesley Strader while he was on his way home from competing on Lake Martin in Alabama. This was his first competition in the Bassmaster Elite Series after fishing the FLW Tour for 20 years. Strader placed 31st out of 110 anglers.
“I got a good check and headed home,” Strader said.
While he was competing on Lake Martin last weekend, the 2018 Summit Select Championship was airing on Outdoor Channel. Strader dominated this year’s Summit Select. He won his Elimination Round, Sudden Death Round, and of course, the Championship. When we asked how he managed to pull that off, Strader answered humbly.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know,” said Strader. “Every time I go fishing I just try to do what I know how to do best. You know, just keep an open mind. If something looks good, I go do it. And if it doesn’t feel right, I don’t do it.”
While Strader was competing in Hot Springs, Ark., he says he was fishing with baits he designed, including Wesley’s Ploppin’ P and the Bango Blade spinnerbait. He says he also used a Zoom Fluke Stick, and a ⅝ ounce flipping jig with a Zoom Big Salty Chunk, and a swim jig.
MLF shot the 2018 Summit Select back in May of 2017, which meant Strader had to keep his success a secret for more than eight months. Strader says he had to dodge a lot of questions.
“Man, everybody asked me, and I’m like, ‘I can’t tell you, I’ll get fired or I’ll be kicked off.’ So that’s the first thing I say. I just say, ‘You’ll just have to tune in and watch, I can’t say anything,’” Strader explained.
When the show finally aired, Strader says his friends and fans flooded his Facebook, Instagram, and inbox with comments to congratulate him.
“I’m just appreciative of the opportunity to compete. And you know, looking forward to each and every event, and appreciate all the fans for following along,” Strader said.
He’s only been fishing with MLF for two years, but Strader has quickly become an MLF fan favorite. In February and March, you’ll see Strader compete in the Wiley X Summit Cup from Alpena, Mich. Then in April, you’ll see Strader compete in the Bass Pro Shops Challenge Select that was shot in Lake Murray County, S.C.
Later this year, Strader will compete in the MLF Selects that will air in 2019.
“I can’t wait, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever did,” Strader explained. “I love it. I love just showing up and just going fishing.”
Strader says he appreciates MLF’s high standard of fish care that’s extending the life of the sport.
“You weigh them and let them go right there in the boat, there’s no hauling them around and taking them to a stage. You know, it’s a really cool deal,” he said.
Strader says his next competition will be the Bassmaster Elite on Sabine River in Texas in April, which means he has a little time off. He says he’ll work on ‘honey-dos’ for his wife, Stephanie, and he’ll attend events for his sponsors. Strader and his wife live in Spring City, Tennessee. They have a 20-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old granddaughter.
Strader describes himself as, “Just a country boy living his dream out in the greatest country on earth.”