Major League Fishing pro Wesley Strader
Photo by Josh Gassmann

ARDMORE, Okla. – Third-year Major League Fishing Select pro Wesley Strader suspected that he and the rest of the field could be in for a grinder of a day as Elimination Round competition started on Lake Murray, Okla., in the Geico 2019 Summit Select.

Anticipating that the hot, still, late-spring conditions would put the lake’s largemouth in a sluggish mood for the majority of the day, Strader knew that a morning shad-spawn bite would likely be a key. Turns out that he was right.

Strader caught three fish on a buzzbait in a 35-minute window between 7:07 and 7:42 a.m., and then spent the next seven hours of competition time scratching out one more topwater fish and five fish on a swim jig to win the round.

“The shad spawn is an early morning deal, so I knew I had about the first hour to make that work before I went to flippin’ reeds,” Strader said. “I was just really lucky to get dialed in on something and manage to catch some pretty quick. The rest of the day was super tough. Past that first period, I got maybe two to three bites a period.”

Strader started his day throwing a buzzbait close to Lake Murray State Park ramp on the north end of the lake, and then worked his way down the lake from there.

“That area near the ramp just looked real ‘largemouthy’: weeds, lily pads, reeds, water willow,” Strader said. “When I took off for the Ride Around, I looked to my right and saw 10 blue herons hanging around. I knew that’s where I wanted to start on that shad spawn.”

Strader’s winning baits

Strader’s shad-spawn bait was a black ½-ounce Zorro Baits Head Knocker with a black Zoom Horny Toad trailer fished on a 755 Powell Endurance rod and 6.8:1 Lew’s Pro Magnesium Speed Spool loaded with 50-pound Gama braid.

Once the shad spawn was over, Strader swam a 3/8-ounce Zorro jig with a white pearl Zoom Z Craw on a 765 Powell rod and Lew’s Pro Magnesium reel spooled with braid that he borrowed from fellow round competitor Fletcher Shryock (Strader did not have a jig rod with braid on his boat, and had to switch during the first period break of the day).