Arkansas angler takes opening day lead at Sam Rayburn - Major League Fishing

Arkansas angler takes opening day lead at Sam Rayburn

March 8, 2000 • MLF • Archives

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JASPER, Texas – James Stricklin, 28, of Little Rock, Ark., is leading the pro field with an opening day catch of five bass weighing 19 pounds, 15 ounces at the $164,000 EverStart Batteries Series Central Division opener on Lake Sam Rayburn.

Stricklin, a former car salesman who is pursuing a professional fishing career, caught the majority of his bass on a Carolina Rig around grass and sparse stumps in the south end of the lake. His largest bass tipped the scales at 7 pounds, 4 ounces and earned him $500 for big bass in the Pro Division.

“I think I’ll need another 5 or 6 pounds to make the top 30,” says Stricklin about his odds of making his first top-30 cut. “I’m going to fish a few new areas tomorrow and hopefully catch a little limit, then if I make the cut, I’ll go back to the area where I caught bigger fish. I think it will be even better in two days.”

In the Co-angler Division, Melvin Henslee of Beaumont, Texas, is leading the field in a bid for the top prize of $6,000 with five bass weighing 19-2. Henslee, who is fishing his first EverStart tournament, also had big bass in the Co-angler Division, an 8-pound, 7-ounce largemouth worth $300.

For a shot at victory, anglers in both divisions must secure one of 30 slots available in Friday’s second round by catching the heaviest two-day total of bass in round one. During the second round, anglers start over, competing for one day to determine the top 10 pros and co-anglers who will compete in Saturday’s final round.

The lucrative bass competition features 350 of North America’s top bass anglers – 175 pros and 175 co-anglers – including Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla., who made the trip in hopes of winning $10,000 cash and an Evinrude- or Johnson-powered Ranger bass boat in the Pro Division. Robertson won $600,000 in November at the Ranger M1 Millennium at Cypress Gardens, Fla. – the richest bass tournament in history. He is currently in 41st place with five bass weighing 13-3.

Competition begins at 7 a.m. each morning at Twin Dykes Marina on Highway 255 two miles east of the Sam Rayburn Dam. Thursday’s and Friday’s weigh-in begin at 3 p.m. at the same location. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart Supercenter located at 800 West Gibson in Jasper at 4 p.m.

The three-year-old, nine-event EverStart Series is comprised of two divisions, Eastern and Central, with four multi-day events per division. The top 75 pros and co-anglers from each division will advance to the year-end EverStart Invitational Challenge at Cypress Gardens, which features a purse of $360,000.

Over the course of the season, the series awards anglers up to $1.7 million in cash and prizes. It also provides a pathway to the prestigious Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the richest tournament series in history. Winning anglers in the Pro and Co-Angler Divisions of each EverStart tournament, as well as the overall top 10 anglers, based on a system of points and pounds, receive automatic berths in the 2001 FLW Tour.

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