DENISON, Texas – The final day of Stren Central competition on Lake Texoma looked like a four-man race among leader Rick Turner, Toby Hartsell, Larry Rea and Chris McCall. The only problem is that nobody cared to enlighten pro Tommy Dickerson. Sitting in relative obscurity in ninth place, Dickerson shot up the leaderboard Saturday courtesy of a five-bass limit weighing 15 pounds, 1 ounce.
Coming into the event, Dickerson had mixed feelings about whether or not to compete.
“I had never fished on the lake, and I heard it was more of a striper fishery,” Dickerson said.
The Orange, Texas, pro went on to explain how he only had a day and a half of practice.
“I was swimming a jig under boat docks all week. I caught probably 25 keepers every day.”
Dickerson had two primary spots; his first was a series of docks located in Catfish Bay. He started day four in that location, but the rain had muddied it up, so he immediately left for his other area located in Grandpappy Bay. Within 30 minutes, he caught 25 keepers on one boat house.
“Today I downsized to a 1/4-ounce jig, and that really made a difference. They really wanted the smaller bait.”
Earlier in the week, Dickerson was throwing a 3/8-ounce, white-blue Mr. Blitz jig, but on Saturday the winning meal ticket was the smaller version of the same bait. Dickerson added a trailer to the jig, which he estimated hooked 80 percent of his fish.
To his career earnings, he can now add a 519VX Ranger powered by a Yamaha outboard and equipped with Minn Kota trolling motor, Lowrance electronics and EverStart batteries plus $10,000 cash. The total value of his victory is $50,000.
McCall makes his move, finishes second
Jasper, Texas, pro Chris McCall made his long-anticipated move, but it wasn’t quite enough to surpass Dickerson. McCall was one of only four pros to register a limit Saturday, his weighing 11 pounds, 4 ounces.
“It’s been a great year,” McCall said. “I look forward to going to Rayburn, but I’ve got to go to Kentucky Lake first (for a Wal-Mart FLW Tour event).”
McCall, who mainly fished spinnerbaits this week, widened his Stren Series Central Division points lead heading into the final tournament.
“I just can’t seem to shake that Keith Combs,” quipped McCall.
He earned $10,000 for his efforts.
Pro Larry Rea of Stigler, Okla., caught yet another five-bass limit on day four that weighed 10 pounds, 12 ounces. His final-round total weighed 23 pounds, 5 ounces, which earned him a check worth $8,750.
“I’ve enjoyed every day, and I’ve caught a lot of fish on a lot of different baits,” said Rea, who used Carolina rigs, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. “Everyday something different would work; you just had to stick with it.”
Turner falls to fourth
Pro Rick Turner had been on a stellar smallmouth pattern all week. While he wasn’t catching dozens of fish each day, his area was consistently producing sizable bass. On day four, the Tyler, Texas, native got bit, but he couldn’t get them in the boat.
“Right after we started this morning, my partner had a big largemouth blow up a topwater, but he wouldn’t take it,” Turner said. “He then had about a 3-pound smallmouth take his bait, but it came off. The next three smallmouths I had pulled off. We fished our hearts out. We were close, but it wasn’t meant to be this time.”
Turner then reflected on the tournament and said, “I’d like to thank my sponsor, Buckeye Lures. Every fish I weighed in this tournament I caught on a Spot Remover jig.”
Turner’s two-day total of 20-13 earned him $7,750.
McFarlin holds down fifth
Pro Don McFarlin of Gordonville, Texas, brought in a limit weighing 9 pounds even for a two-day total of 20-8 worth $7,250.
“I ran four different patterns for four days,” McFarlin said. “Everything that I wanted to fish today was muddied up.”
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pro finalists in the Stren Central event on Lake Texoma:
6th: Tommy Martin of Hemphill, Texas, 16-1, $6,250
7th: Keith Combs of Temple, Texas, 15-7, $5,250
8th: Chris Slopak of Prairie Grove, Ark., 15-2, $4,750
9th: Toby Hartsell of Livingston, Texas, 14-0, $4,250
10th: James Fredieu of Saint Martinville, La., 12-1, $3,750
Stren Central action resumes May 17-20 when the series visits the Sam Rayburn reservoir in Jasper, Texas, for the final qualifying event of the season.