JASPER, Texas – Pro Charles Haralson of Laredo, Texas, caught a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 2 ounces Wednesday to lead opening day of the $275,225 Stren Series Texas Division tournament presented by Evinrude on Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
“I just started out wanting to catch a limit,” Haralson said. “I didn’t care how big it was. I just want a limit a day. Today I picked an area and stayed in it all day and took what it gave me.”
Many anglers who weighed in Wednesday described their day as “tough.” Only 65 limits were weighed in by pro anglers.
“I can’t believe how tough it was for a lot of people,” Haralson said. “But if it wasn’t for my big fish, I’d have the same bag as anybody else.
“I’m just going to go back out with my game plan of getting a limit a day,” Haralson added.
Rounding out the top five pros are Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas (five bass, 18-8); Tommy Durham of Waxahachie, Texas (five bass, 17-11); Russell Cecil of Willis, Texas (five bass, 17-4); and Dicky Newberry of Houston, Texas (five bass, 17-3).
Art Garza of Buna, Texas, earned $300 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division thanks to a 7-pound, 5-ounce bass.
Overall there were 575 bass weighing 1,318 pounds, 1 ounce caught by pros Wednesday.
Pros are competing for as much as $65,000, including a 519VX Ranger powered by Evinrude or Yamaha if contingency guidelines are met, and valuable points toward qualifying for the $1 million Stren Series Championship in Mobile, Ala., Nov. 8-11 for a shot at $140,000. After four qualifying events are complete in each of the circuit’s five divisions, the top 40 pros from each division will advance to the championship. The highest-finishing pro from each division at the championship will also earn a spot in the $2 million 2008 Forrest Wood Cup, where they will compete against top pros from the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Ranger Owners Tournament Championship Series and TBF (The Bass Federation) for bass fishing’s biggest prize – $1 million.
Jacques Fleischmann of Valencia, Calif., leads the Co-angler Division in the chase for a top award of $35,000, including a 519VX Ranger if contingency guidelines are met. He caught five bass weighing 15-5 while fishing with pro Johnston, who is currently in second place.
“It’s a surprise that I caught the fish the way I did,” said Fleischmann, who has honed his drop-shotting techniques on western waters near his home. “I drop shot everywhere and I have a lot of confidence in it. I do it in California. I do it everywhere. It worked during practice, so I hoped I’d get to fish it during competition. Of course, that all depends on what technique my pro is fishing.”
Fleischmann proved his versatility Wednesday by catching a total of 10 fish – five on a drop-shot rig and five using power-fishing techniques.
“I fish one day at a time,” Fleischmann said. “Last year I learned that you can blank the first two days of a tournament and have a good weight on the third day and jump right back up in the standings – and vice versa.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Travis Darley of Del Rio, Texas (five bass, 14-15); Clint May of La Porte, Texas (five bass, 14-7); Kerry Barnett of Waldron, Ark. (five bass, 13-5); and Waylin Ott of White Oak, Texas (five bass, 12-13).
Matt Purgahn of Orange, Texas, earned $150 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to a 7-pound, 11-ounce bass.
Overall there were 355 bass weighing 813 pounds, 11 ounces caught by co-anglers Wednesday. The catch included 17 five-bass limits.
The top 40 co-anglers from each Stren Series division will also advance to the championship, where they will fish for as much as $70,000. The highest-finishing co-angler from each division at the championship will then advance to the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup.
Anglers will take off at 7 each morning from Umphrey Family Pavilion located at 5438 RR 225 West in Sam Rayburn, Texas. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-in will be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday’s weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 800 W. Gibson St. in Jasper, Texas, beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public. Stren Series tournaments are four-day events consisting of two rounds. The entire field competes Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. At the conclusion of Friday’s weigh-in, the field is cut to the top 10 pros and co-anglers based on the heaviest three-day accumulated weights. These anglers continue competition Saturday, with the winners determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.