OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – Having won three of the past five points titles in the Okie Division of the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, pro Jason Christie is a young angler on the rise. Fishing at the Stren Series level for the first time in his career, he wrapped up a memorable rookie campaign by winning the Central Division finale on Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks.
This is Christie’s fifth win on his ever-improving FLW Outdoors résumé. The first three days of the event brought hot, sunny weather – which played right into his hand. Day four saw a change in weather, as the wind ripped from the north, and thick clouds appeared for the first time all week.
But not even the change in weather could stop the Park Hill, Okla., native. After catching three consecutive sacks of 18 pounds or more, Christie caught 15 pounds on day four en route to a 70-pound total and a wire-to-wire victory.
“Oh goodness, my heart is going crazy,” said the 33-year-old father of three young girls. “My luck has been outstanding all week, but I had some miscues today. At 1:30 this afternoon I lost a 3-pounder, and up until then I hadn’t lost a fish all week. Yesterday I brought a 5-pounder over the top of a dock.”
Christie’s winning pattern consisted of throwing a Bomber Fat Free Shad crankbait in 15 to 25 feet of water. The crankbait bite was best in the morning and took place in the back of creeks in the main channel of the lake. As the tournament progressed, his crankbait bite died, and he had to switch to a big worm.
A former Division II basketball player at Northeastern, Christie threw a 10 1/2-inch Yum worm in motor oil and neon color. The pro winner was just about the only angler throwing a big worm, as nearly everyone else used some variety of a jig. The worm was rigged Texas style and was presented under docks located in the Gravois branch of the lake.
The best docks were located on a flat in shallow water, but were adjacent to deep water.
Christie’s domination earned him a $25,000 cash purse and a fully loaded Ranger boat.
“This is far and beyond anything I’ve ever done in my fishing career.”
Look for Christie to make some noise next season in his rookie campaign on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour.
Maloney finishes runner-up
Local pro Brian Maloney came after Christie with guns blazing, doing everything in his power to keep the title in his hometown of Osage Beach. Maloney turned out 13 pounds, 1 ounce on day four, but it wasn’t enough to pose a serious threat to Christie. Maloney finished second with a four-day combined weight of 64 pounds, 5 ounces worth $7,883. His 21-pound, 6-ounce day-three stringer will go down as the heaviest single-day catch of the tournament.
His key bait was 5/16-ounce custom-made Curt Walker jig. The jig was tipped with a Strike King Z Too trailer in a shad pattern. Maloney fished docks from the 18-mile marker all the way to the four-mile marker in the main channel of the lake. The Stren Series rookie said he focused on odd docks. The most productive portions of the docks were the deep shadows under swimming platforms.
“The big girls were laying there all week.”
Maloney pitched his jig some 20 to 30 feet back on each dock. This was important as the highly pressured bass were taking refuge. Although getting bites was easy, getting them into the boat was not.
“I had a little meltdown from 8:30 to 9:30 this morning. I lost two fish on cable, and another one pulled off. It took me a while, but I eventually got it back together.”
Look for Maloney at the TBF National Championship next spring.
Fishing only three of the four Stren Series Central Division events, it looks like Kellogg’s pro Sam Newby is on his way to the 2007 Stren Series Championship. That’s not good news for the other 199 pros, as Newby claimed the 2005 Stren Series Championship on Pickwick Lake.
Still, Newby is excited that his season will continue into November.
“That’s what I came down here for.”
His limit on day three weighed 12 pounds, 11 ounces. His total weight spanning four days was 57 pounds, 13 ounces. That placed him third and earned him $12,095 thanks to $5,000 in Ranger contingency money.
“If I can catch them on a 1/2-ounce jig in muddy water, I’m at home.”
More specifically, Newby threw a black-and-blue prototype jig with a Berkley Chigger Craw. He said the key to his success this week was a new type of line – 17-pound Trilene fluorocarbon.
“I usually flip with heavier stuff, but that 17-pound-test is bulletproof. I never broke off a fish.”
Fitzpatrick retains fourth
Roger Fitzpatrick of Eldon, Mo., finished fourth with a four-day total of 57 pounds, 11 ounces worth $6,307. Fitzpatrick won the points race in the Ozark Division of the BFL and was among a handful of favorites coming into the tournament.
On day four, Fitzpatrick caught a five-bass limit weighing 13 pounds, 7 ounces. His main bait was a 3/8-ounce black-and-blue homemade jig with a Pacachunk. Occasionally, he would venture out to the deeper water and throw a DT 16 crankbait.
“It has been a fantastic week,” he said. “Lake of the Ozarks is probably one of the best fisheries in the United States.”
Next on the docket for Fitzpatrick is the BFL Regional on the Mississippi River Oct. 4-5 in Fort Madison, Iowa. There, Fitzpatrick will be trying to qualify for his third BFL All-American.
Davis Jr. fifth
Ozark veteran Jimmy Davis Jr. of Willard, Mo., finished fifth with a combined total of 53 pounds, 14 ounces, earning him $5,518. Davis caught the heaviest limit of the day on day four. That limit, which weighed 16 pounds, 6 ounces, propelled him from 10th to fourth.
“I really think a jig on this lake is the best bait bar none,” said Davis.
His jig of choice was of the homemade, 1/2-ounce variety. It was tipped with a green Pacachunk and presented underneath shallow docks.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros at the Stren Series Central Division event on Lake of the Ozarks:
6th: Jackie Davis of Willard, Mo., four-day total of 52-10, $4,730
7th: Jeremy Lawyer of Sarcoxie, Mo., 49-5, $4,337
8th: Steve Ruff of Wentzville, Mo., 47-10, $4,942
9th: Rick McGaughey of Osage Beach, Mo., 47-10, $3,548
10th: Randall Hutson of Washburn, Mo., 46-5, $3,115
In other tournament news, Rogers, Ark., pro Greg Bohannan won the 2007 Stren Series Central Division Angler of the Year award. Bohannan entered the tournament third in the points race, seven behind Castrol pro Carl Svebek and one behind Suave pro Mark Rose. Svebek finished the Lake of the Ozarks event in 121st place, and Rose finished 50th, while Bohannan placed 12th. Look for Bohannan on the 2008 Wal-Mart FLW Tour.
The next Stren Series event will take place Oct. 3-6 on Lake Gaston, the fourth and final qualifier in the Northern Division. The Stren Series Championship is slated for Nov. 8-11 on the Mobile Delta in Mobile, Ala.