Billy Cline fished around isolated gizzard shad and landed in the lead on day one of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event presented by Frabill with a total of 19 pounds, 4 ounces. Overall, the fishing on day one was better than many anticipated, with plenty of bags in the teens hitting the scale. Though nobody managed to break the 20-pound barrier, everyone in the top 12 managed to catch 16 pounds for better – at least early, it looks like anyone’s game.
2. Russell Cecil – Willis, Texas – 18-2 (5)
Feeling as if he’d finally turned the corner on a lake that has often frustrated him, Russell Cecil sacked up 18-2 and took second place. He entered the day with plenty of confidence, but was pleasantly surprised with the day’s outcome.
“Today was better than I expected it to be,” Cecil says. “Late summer on Texoma the last couple of years hasn’t been that good to me, but I got more bites than I expected and they ended up being bigger than I thought they’d be.”
He got the ball rolling with a good limit of smallmouths within the first couple hours and ended up culling all but one with largemouth. Fishing solely with crankbaits, Cecil says he wasn’t necessarily targeting either species today.
“This place is very bait-driven – the bite is here one day and gone the next,” he says. “There’s a lot of stripers and sand (white) bass in this lake and the largemouth and smallmouth act like them.
“I caught quite a few today because I didn't trust them to be there tomorrow. I fished fast, covered a lot of water and tried to show it to as many as I could.”
3. T.R. Andreas – Kerrville, Texas – 18-0 (5)
Texas pro T.R. Andreas leveraged an early opportunity to nab a couple of key fish that contributed to his limit of 18 pounds. He shares the third-place spot with Brian Clark.
“I caught them on a topwater early,” Andreas says. “I caught them on a bone-colored River2Sea Whopper Plopper, but that bite didn’t last very long — maybe 30 minutes.
“I had been on a deep crankbait bite but I couldn’t get them to eat it today, so I spent the rest of the day flipping docks.”
3. Brian Clark – Haltom City, Texas – 18-0 (5)
While much of the field worked main-lake spots, Clark drew upon his extensive Texoma experience and ran up the Red River and fished the Big Mineral Creek arm.
“I know a lot of guys wanted to fish deep water, but I’m fishing a foot to three feet,” Clark says. “It’s a grind, I’m fishing for five to seven bites and I got seven of them today and I got them all in.
“It’s the same stuff I’ve done year after year. If it’s sunny, I’m going to flip. If it’s cloudy, I’m going to throw a topwater.”
Clark says he caught his fish on a mop jig and a Texas-rigged worm. The key to making this decision work was a willingness to run several spots and jump from one isolated piece of cover to the next.
“I’ll run a mile to fish a couple of stumps or run two miles to fish a little brush pile,” Clark says.
5. Alton Wilhoit – Noble, Okla. – 17-13 (5)
When Alton Wilhoit found a stretch of bank with the laydowns he wanted to fish, he committed to giving it time to produce. As the morning progressed without the first hint of company, his decision to camp out and work the spot proved a prudent one, as the Texas pro caught a limit of 17-13 to place fifth.
“The fish were there and I never saw another boat,” Wilhoit says. “The fish were running about a pound and a half bigger than what I’d caught in practice. I just got the bites I needed today.”
Wilhoit says he caught most of his fish on the windy, shallow ends of laydowns and threw a spinnerbait for most of the day.