JASPER, Texas – It’s been a pretty good year for Jerry Green. And it’s not even March.
First, Green comes out of nowhere to claim a top-10 berth at the Wal-Mart FLW Tour season opener on Lake Okeechobee. Then, barely a month later, he waltzes into the EverStart Series Central Division opener on Sam Rayburn Reservoir with only a little more than a day’s worth of practice and wins the whole thing.
“I started practicing during the tournament,” said Green, whose previous-best finish on the EverStart Series was 40th at last year’s event on Kentucky Lake. “I blew a motor at Amistad and I brought it down here, planning on fishing with my trolling motor.”
Green wound up borrowing the brand-new rig of Beaumont, Texas, pro Mark Martin, but he still didn’t have hardly any practice time to speak of. And what little practice time he did have produced only one keeper bass.
“I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I decided to go to fresh water and chunk a spinner bait.”
The spinner bait, tossed from the front deck of a borrowed rig, treated Green well, as he finished 13th after day one with a five-bass catch weighing 18 pounds, 6 ounces. He followed that up on day two with another 16 pounds, 7 ounces that allowed him to slip into the finals in 10th place, the very last spot.
"My co-angler, Mike Curry, had caught fish on the other side of the creek in another tournament the weekend before. I caught fish again that day, and I expanded from there.”
Realizing he’d run out of his bass-nabbing spinner baits, Green ran to the store to buy some more, only to discover it was closed. He then ran into fellow pro Jim Tutt, who gave him a few more Santone spinner baits to fish with.
Armed with a new batch of baits, Green vaulted to the top of the leaderboard on day three, when a cold front coupled with sunshine all but shut the fishing down. Green’s day-three catch of 14 pounds, 11 ounces was one of only three five-bass limits that day and put him 1 pound, 6 ounces ahead of opening-day leader David Curtis, who had proved to be a constant threat over the course of the week.
Curtis was once again a viable contender on the final day, hauling in five bass that brought his two-day total weight to 23 pounds, 15 ounces that took the lead away from Darrel Robertson, who eventually finished third.
The last to weigh in, the crowd in Jasper waited to see what Green had. Could he beat Curtis? Did he have enough? Indeed he did, weighing in five bass that weighed 13 pounds for a two-day weight of 27 pounds, 11 ounces, just short of 4 pounds heavier than Curtis’ two-day stringer.
“I slow-rolled the spinner bait around buck brush and milfoil,” said Green, who said the 1/2-ounce bait was white with blue glimmer and a white skirt. “I got fewer bites every day, and every day I slowed down a little more."
For the win, Green took home $10,000 cash plus a fully rigged Ranger boat, and he also earned another $10,000 from Ranger for meeting contingency guidelines. This was his first victory in any FLW Outdoors event.
Curtis claims second
Like Green, Curtis also operated on very limited practice time after competing in last weekend’s Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail event on Lake Amistad. Curtis led Wednesday's opening day and never fell below third in the standings before landing in second place to close out the tournament.
“I’ve had an incredible tournament,” said Curtis, who fished with co-angler winner Robert Lebert on days three and four. “I was fishing tubes and a 1/2-ounce spinner bait (on day one), and I did the same thing on the second day, except I mixed it up with a Senko.”
Curtis credited Lebert’s valuable local knowledge in helping him land in the No. 2 spot and earn $10,000 cash. “I had the best partner anybody could ever have,” Curtis said. “He saved this tournament for me and allowed me to get where I am.”
Robertson catches day's biggest stringer, takes third
Veteran pro Darrel Robertson brought in the day’s heaviest stringer, a 15-pound, 7-ounce limit, to score a third-place finish with a two-day total of 23 pounds, 11 ounces. The finish ties Robertson’s best EverStart Series finish.
“You couldn’t come to a better place,” said Robertson, who is well-known for winning both the FLW Tour Championship and the lucrative Ranger M1 tournament in the same year. “Sometimes (the fish) beat you, but this lake’s full of them.”
Robertson knew his chances of winning were slim, even with a 15-plus-pound catch, because of his relatively subpar day-three performance.
“I didn't feel like I could win it and catch three fish yesterday,” he said.
Newbies round out top five
Vienna, Ill., pro Travis Loyd finished fourth in his first-ever EverStart Series event with a two-day total catch of six bass weighing 20 pounds, 2 ounces. He brought in five bass today weighing 15 pounds, 1 ounce, a far cry from his one-bass catch from day three that weighed a mere 5 pounds, 1 ounce.
Behind Loyd in fifth is Memphis pro Zack Bull, competing in only his second EverStart Series event. Like Loyd, Bull also rebounded from a mediocre day-three catch, hauling in five bass Saturday that weighed 13 pounds, 1 ounce that brought his two-day total to 19 pounds, 3 ounces.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top 10 pros on Sam Rayburn:
7th: Eric Ambort of Mabelvale, Ark., seven bass, 18-9
8th: Kevin Lasyone of Dry Prong, La., seven bass, 15-9
9th: Ed Dunnaway of Flowood, Miss., five bass, 12-11
10th: James Fredieu of St. Martinville, La., five bass, 11-7
The EverStart Series will next visit the Santee Cooper lakes near Manning, S.C., March 2-5 for the second Southeast Division event of the season.
The next Central Division stop is March 16-19 on the Columbus Pool near Columbus, Miss.