JASPER, Texas – Winless after countless years fishing both FLW Outdoors and BASS tournaments, Lendell Martin Jr. finally got the victory he had long coveted. Earlier this year, Chris McCall notched his first career win on this same body of water, but this time around, it was Martin’s turn. With his wife and parents in attendance, the Nacogdoches, Texas, pro brought 14 pounds, 12 ounces to the scale Saturday to complete his Texas triumph and claim the final Stren Series Central Division title.
“I’ve come close so many times, it was like I never was going to win one of these,” Martin said. “It has been an exceptional week. To win one of these tournaments, you’ve got to do everything right.”
Martin fished the Wal-Mart FLW Tour event on Kentucky Lake just prior to this tournament, so he had little practice time.
“Most of these guys know every little grass patch and every little stump. They are some pretty tough sticks. The first day I had 15 pounds within 20 minutes. I couldn’t do anything wrong.”
After catching a huge sack yesterday on the south end of the lake, Martin started day-four close to the launch. With a 300-boat Bass Champs tournament set to commence immediately after daybreak, he knew he’d have to get his fish fast.
“I caught four before the other tournament took off. Once they came out, I could hardly move; I could hardly cast.”
At that moment, the cagey veteran decided to make the long run up north. In the early morning, Martin fished with a Spot Remover jighead. When he changed his area, he also changed his bait. Fishing with a green-pumpkin Yamamoto Kreature, Martin presented his bait around thick cover in 2 to 3 feet of water.
The end result was a 20-fish day, a two-day total of 36 pounds and a payday that includes a 519VX Ranger powered by an Evinrude outboard and equipped with a Minn Kota trolling motor, Lowrance electronics and EverStart batteries plus $10,000 cash. He also earned a $10,000 contingency bonus from Ranger for a total value of $60,000.
Martin described the Yamamoto Kreature as the perfect little flipping bait.
“It really penetrates well. If they get a glimpse of it, they can’t help themselves.”
McCall maintains second
Coming into day four, all eyes were on McCall as the man to unseat Martin. After all, McCall did win the Stren Central event held on Sam Rayburn just two months ago. Furthermore, McCall took second at the last Stren Central event on Lake Texoma and recently clinched the divisional points title. Needless to say, Martin had his work cut out for him.
Before the tournament began, McCall claimed he had a history of disappointing finishes on Rayburn during the month of May. Much like Martin, McCall raced here from the Kentucky Lake FLW Tour event. For not having much time on the water, he too put on quite a show.
“I just made up my mind that I was going to fish the Gambler Cane Toad,” said McCall, who keyed on peppergrass all week. “It just clicked from the moment I got here.”
McCall caught another solid limit Friday weighing 14-1, but it wasn’t enough to pose a serious threat to unseat the leader. His two-day total registered 31 pounds, 3 ounces, which earned him a check for $10,000.
After recording his second consecutive second-place finish, McCall said, “I fished the way I wanted to the whole week. He had such a big lead, what more can I do? I didn’t miss a single fish all day.”
Up next for the Texas Terror is the Wal-Mart FLW Series event on Old Hickory Lake.
Lowery leaps to third
Pro Michael Lowery of Etoile, Texas, said he caught them every which way this week on Sam Rayburn. The end result was a five-bass limit on day four, registering 12 pounds, 14 ounces, putting his final-round total at 25 pounds, 13 ounces.
Among the baits Lowery chose to deploy were Carolina rigs, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and Senkos. His third-place finish earned him an $8,750 payday.
“I fished all over the lake and pulled out all the stops,” Lowery said.
Lasyone finishes fourth
“I love it,” Lasyone said. “The whole community supports us, and I’m really thankful. Today, I just couldn’t get the big ones to bite.”
Lasyone’s two-day total of 24-3 earned him $7,750.
Moore moves to fifth
Pro David Moore of Cambridge City, Ind., probably caught more fish than any other pro during the course of four days. However, in tournament fishing, quality usually trumps quantity. On day four, Moore’s deep-water brush hole finally dried up.
“During practice I found some fish schooling up on top,” Moore said. “I looked down on my graph, and there were baitfish everywhere in 30 feet of water.”
To satisfy his curiosity, Moore dropped down a 1-ounce jig tipped with green and blue plastic.
“It looked like a bluegill, and I think that’s what they were feeding on down there.”
On day four, Moore brought two fish to the scale weighing 7 pounds, 14 ounces for a two-day total of 21-5, worth $7,250.
“I probably lost 30 jigs over the course of four days.”
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pro finalists in the final Stren Series Central Division event on Sam Rayburn:
6th: Jeremy Guidry of Opelousas, La., final-round total of 21-4, $6,250
7th: Jason Reyes of Humble, Texas, 20-5, $5,250
8th: David Curtis of Trinity, Texas, 19-15, $4,750
9th: Bradley Stringer of Huntington, Texas, 19-7, $4,250
10th: Alan Bond of Vidor, Texas, 17-3, $3,750
The top 40 pros from the Central Division will advance to the $1 million Stren Series Championship on Wheeler Lake Nov. 1-4.