Photo by Josh Gassmann
By Joel Shangle - January 7, 2019
ARDMORE, Okla. – As he motored into the Lake Murray State Park ramp at the end of Period 1 of the first Elimination Round of the 2019 Summit Select – leading the field with three fish for 7 pounds, 3 ounces – Lew’s pro Wesley Strader was more focused on the fish he didn’t put on SCORETRACKER™.
After racing to a quick lead in the first 45 minutes of the morning thanks to a good buzzbait bite, Strader had spent the rest of the first period hooking and then losing multiple fish on a swim jig because the monofilament line he had spooled on his Lew’s Pro Magnesium Speed Spool 6.8:1 reel wouldn’t allow a good hookset.
“Man, I should have blown it out that period, but I lost a bunch of fish,” Strader fussed. “I missed a few that blew up on the buzzbait, but I swear I had six or seven hooked that just came off on the jig because I hadn’t put any braid on my flippin’ sticks.”
Thankfully for Strader, it turns out that he’s not only an efficient catcher of bass, but also a student of the MLF rulebook.
MLF rules clearly state that anglers cannot borrow baits from one another, but there’s no such limitation on borrowing fishing line. So Strader gratefully accepted some braided line from Fletcher Shryock during the period break, respooled, and immediately went 4-for-4 on scorable bass in the second period on the way to 15-8 for the day, and first place in the round.
“You put so much stuff in your boat for these competitions, but it was just one of those situations where I didn’t have the right rod with braid on it,” Strader admitted. “I just don’t put a lot of braid on my flippin’ sticks, so the only rod I had with braid was my buzzbait rod.
“When I went in for the break, I mentioned ‘Man, I wish I had some braid’, Fletcher said ‘Man, I have a whole spool of it’ and was good enough to offer me some. We had to check with (executive producer) Randy White to be sure we weren’t breaking a rule, but the rule specifically says ‘No borrowing lures’, but nothing about line.”
Strader would eventually catch just shy of half his weight on the day (7-3 of his 15-8) on that line.
Fred Roumbanis followed Strader into Sudden Death, with 12-6. Shryock finished third with 9-9 and Gary Clouse rounded out the four anglers advancing with 5-14.
NOTES: Clouse only caught one fish on the day, but it was a big one: his 5-14 was good enough to push him past fifth-place finisher Scott Ashmore (4-6 on two fish) … Strader has now won three rounds in his two-year MLF career.