Stricklin-Cline overcome stingy Texoma

Stricklin-Cline overcome stingy Texoma

Apr 25

DENISON, Texas – It’s no secret that Lake Texoma has undergone a bass fishing resurgence recently. However, it proved today at the Texas Team Trail event presented by Cabela’s that it is still susceptible to Mother Nature’s whims. Instead of the predicted heavyweight sight-fishing slugfest, overnight thunderstorms brought the lake level up nearly a foot and turned many of the premier pockets to a reddish-mud color. In turn, the largemouth bite came to a screeching halt.

Instead of panicking, veteran sticks James Stricklin and Billy Cline went to work, knowing that the fish wouldn’t really move all that much. During a stormy practice, Stricklin located a productive point covered in submerged bushes. What made this shallow point particularly effective was the presence of shad, which were beginning to spawn themselves.

“In practice, I pulled up and caught a 3 1/2-pounder right away and then I took the hook off my spinnerbait and they just kept biting,” said Stricklin. “So this morning we started there right off the bat and we caught a meanmouth and two good spots within the first 15 minutes. Then we struggled for a bit.”

“At 10 a.m., we caught a 5-pounder pretty much in the middle of nowhere,” Cline recalled. “That got us pumped up a bit.”

In the afternoon, the two returned to their primary area, located in one of the creeks in the midlake region.

“I told Billy we would have to just get around them and fish hard,” said Stricklin. “So when we went back, the wind blew all the muddy water out of the creek; I couldn’t believe it.”

With improved visibility, the culling continued. At 2 p.m., Stricklin put the team’s last keeper in the boat – a 4-pound largemouth. The final tally was 16.93 pounds. Of their five weigh fish, three were largemouths. The other two were a meanmouth and a spotted bass. Stricklin noted that a few of their fish were fat prespawners while others appeared to be postspawn.

“We were basically targeting bushes in about 4 to 6 feet of water,” explained Stricklin. “Billy was fishing the bushes we couldn’t see with a 3/8-ounce Strike King double-willow spinnerbait (pure white) and I would flip the bushes we could see with a 1/2-ounce Strike King flipping jig and Paca Craw (black and blue) trailer. It was one of those days where you had to keep a good mental attitude. Billy and I fish real well together; we feed off each other, and that was key today.”

For winning the fourth qualifier of the season, Stricklin and Cline won a fully-equipped Ranger Z119 valued at $45,000 and $2,025 of Anglers Advantage money for a total prize of $47,025.

“We knew it was tough today, but winning was still a shock,” Cline said. “But whenever we’ve won or done real well it’s been when we least expected it.”

Turner and Fleming content with second

Finishing 2 1/2 pounds behind Stricklin and Cline were Rick Turner and Greg Fleming. While the winners predominantly fished largemouth water, Turner and Fleming targeted smallmouths upriver.

“Practice was very hard on us,” said Turner. “We normally catch a lot of spotted bass and we also had no luck finding largemouth shallow or deep. But I had some experience on the lake with smallmouths.”

Targeting postspawn bronzebacks on rocky banks in 7 to 8 feet, Turner and Fleming put together a stringer worth 14.46 pounds. Both anglers used a 1/8-ounce Spot Remover shaky head with a 4-inch Zoom finesse worm.

“I think the rain, the runoff and the muddy water played right into the smallmouth bite,” Turner explained. “They tend to turn on a little bit when you have nasty weather. Later in the day we found them a bit deeper than that 7- to 8-foot zone.”

Turner and Fleming had a limit early and made their first cull at 9:30 a.m. The bite slowed an hour later but the two were receiving just enough action to stay in the same area all day.

“Even when we made our last cull, we were just hoping for a check. Taking second was a shock. We didn’t expect to finish that high and we’re tickled to death that we did. We fished real clean; I think we put everything in the boat that would have benefited us.”

The two anglers earned $5,225 for finishing second.

Crelia-Goodwin garner third

Philip Crelia and TJ Goodwyn took third with five bass weighing 14.07 pounds. Their limit consisted of three largemouths, one spotted bass and one smallmouth.

“We caught 15 keepers today but it was still pretty tough on us,” said Crelia. “We had a limit by 9 or 9:30 this morning and we upgraded throughout the day. But we never did get a big bite. We’d catch 2 or 3 here and then 2 or 3 there.”

Crelia and Goodwin realized during practice that the lake was getting muddy and that sight-fishing was going to be difficult. Instead, they chose to junk-fish – targeting bass both up shallow and as deep as 25 feet. They used a combination of Carolina rigs, spinnerbaits and umbrella rigs depending on the area.

“We’re kind of shocked with third,” Crelia added. “The last few tournaments we’ve fished up here there have been some big weights. We knew it would be tough, but we figured somebody would run into a couple of giants. But we’ll take it.”

With $1,485 of Anglers Advantage money, the two cleared $4,620 total.

Brice-Duncan fourth, Pasket-Aikin fifth

In fourth place with five fish for 13.94 pounds was Odis Price and Jon Duncan. Behind them in fifth was Russell Pasket and David Aikin with 13.82 pounds. Pasket and Aikin achieved their weight on only four fish – one of which weighed 5.79 pounds.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 teams at the 2015 Texas Team Trail presented by Cabela’s event on Lake Texoma:

6th: Michael Roger and Josh Williams, 12.28
7th: Tommy Durham and Larry Puckett, 12.17
8th: Tim H. Wilcoxson and Tim P. Wilcoxson, 11.85
9th: Kevin Mason and Randy Dearman, 11.58
10th: Spencer McAlester and Terry Alsup, 10.75

Up next

The next Texas Team Trail presented by Cabela’s event is the year-end championship, slated for June 13-14 on Lake Palestine in Flint, Texas.