ZAPATA, Texas – When talented anglers are placed on a legendary fishery like Falcon Lake, the results can be unforgettable. The final day of the Stren Series Texas Division opener proved to be one of those memorable moments for pro Joe Setina. Despite starting the day in seventh place, 15 pounds behind the leader, Setina completed an incredible comeback courtesy of a 38-pound, 14-ounce stringer.
Setina’s 38-14 was the second-heaviest day-three catch in the history of FLW Outdoors, regardless of circuit. It also ranks fourth all time as the heaviest single-day catch in company history.
“I was just trying to catch the fish that were staging to spawn,” he said. “All my fish were full of eggs.”
Setina worked the intersection of a creek channel and a road bed on the extreme south end of the lake near the dam. More specifically, it was the creek located on the Mexican side of the lake near the dam. At the intersection, the fish were holding tight to the bottom between 17 and 26 feet.
“Basically, I just looked for anything besides bushes when I got here. I wanted to fish the roads the bass would use as migratory routes to spawn.”
To catch his fish, Setina employed a 3/4-ounce Santone flipping jig and watermelon Sweet Beaver trailer. Occasionally he would mix in a 10-inch Berkley Power Worm, but 80 percent of his fish came on the Beaver. He threw both baits on 25-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon.
On day three he caught 15 keepers, the biggest weighing well over 10 pounds. During the opening round he registered 27-15 and 25-5, which brought his tournament total to 92 pounds, 2 ounces.
“This is the best lake in the world, but I honestly did not think I had a chance at winning this morning. I just relaxed and went fishing, and I was lucky to get a few bigger bites. Not having any pressure made a world of difference.”
Setina has been away from professional fishing for a while, but he is no stranger to success. In 1998 he won the Stren Series event on Lake Eufaula, and in 2002 he finished fifth at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee. Over the past few years, he’s been growing his two businesses – Joe Tex Incorporated, a logistics company, and Joe Tex Express, a trucking company.
Now that those two businesses are on firm ground, the Pittsburg, Texas, native plans to fish a full Texas Division season.
“I couldn’t have done this without my support group – from friends and family to employees and managers. Thank you.”
For winning the season-opening event, Setina claimed $25,000 and a fully equipped 198VX Ranger.
Cathey comes up just short
Although Rick Cathey brought 39 pounds, 1 ounce to the scale on day one, he might be remembered more for what happened during practice. While guiding with a client, Cathey caught seven bass in one area that each weighed over 10 pounds. His five best that day weighed 56 pounds.
For those that want to see what a five-bass limit of 56 pounds looks like, visit www.rickcathey.com. Now that the tournament has concluded, Cathey will upload both photos and video of his astonishing 56-pound catch, which came from Government Cove.
“It’s a cove on the south end of the lake with bends and channels, but there is a specific portion that is ridden with logs. I found the spot when it was dry, and I said to myself, ‘That would be a great place to fish if the water ever came up.’”
Unfortunately, that same area failed him on day two when he caught only 22 pounds, 1 ounce. On day three he caught eight keepers total and managed 29 pounds, 11 ounces for a cumulative weight of 90 pounds, 13 ounces.
The San Antonio, Texas, pro caught his fish this week on spinnerbaits, spoons and worms. The vast majority came on a variety of 1-ounce chartreuse-and-white spinnerbaits. His favorite was a blade from the Diffy Bait Company.
“The whole tournament was all about the spinnerbait for me. These fish were holding tight to the bottom in approximately 20 feet. They were not moving and they were not eating. I worked the spinnerbait like I would a worm. When I felt a log, I would just pop it over, and then they would just absolutely clobber it.”
For taking second in his first Stren Series tournament, Cathey earned $10,000.
Charles Haralson, who guides 250 days a year under the company name Bassin on the Border, took fourth place at last year’s Stren Series opener on Falcon. This year he finished third by fishing the same prespawn pattern.
His primary area was located southeast of the Zapata County Boat Ramp on the American side of the lake. His key baits were a Big Bite Trick Stick and Swim Shad. He also mixed in a 1 1/8-ounce Joe Baby spinnerbait and a 5/8-ounce Oldham’s jig with Rage Craw trailer.
“I threw the jig and the spinnerbait just to give them a different look, maybe catch a big fish,” said the Laredo, Texas, pro. “The majority came on a Texas-rigged Trick Stick.”
Haralson was perhaps the most consistent angler of the tournament – catching limits of 33-11, 27-9 and 28-8. He finished the event with 89 pounds, 12 ounces and earned $8,000.
“I lost some like everyone else, but I did the best I could. That was a heck of a string he (Setina) caught, and he deserves everything he gets.”
Two weeks ago, Jerry Green had no intentions of fishing the Falcon Lake Stren event. He came down to Zapata with his father and brother for some fun fishing like he has been doing so for the past 20 years. As soon as they left town, Green called FLW Outdoors headquarters to see if there was any way he could still gain entry in the tournament. Because he had a co-angler who was also interested in registering, he was accepted.
“It sure is nice to be back in South Texas,” said Green, who recently moved to Cullman, Ala., to be closer to the majority of FLW Tour venues. “I’ve fished this lake a lot, and I’ve seen it at all different water levels, and that has really helped.”
Green fished a prespawn area on the American side of the lake in Goose Bay. He slow-rolled a 1/2-ounce white spinnerbait on 50-pound braid in approximately 9 feet of water.
“If I went any shallower, I would get only small bucks. But at 9 feet the females were staging.”
His day-three weight of 31 pounds, 10 ounces was his heaviest of the tournament. He finished fourth with 86-11 over three days, earning $7,000.
“A huge key has been my Power Tackle rods. They make rods designed to get these big fish out of cover. Out here, you’ve got to be able to control these mean fish. Believe it or not, I didn’t lose a single fish all week. That’s a testament to using the right tackle.”
Schoonveld finishes fifth
Stren Series veteran Dan Schoonveld finished fifth with a combined total of 81 pounds, 9 ounces, earning $6,000. Schoonveld led after the two-day opening round, but caught only three bass Saturday that weighed 13 pounds, 7 ounces.
“I think the area just ran its course,” he said. “I tried finding them again, but couldn’t. A lot of fish were caught from that area this week by both me and my co-anglers.”
In practice, Schoonveld was able to locate a gravel-bottom creek channel that was being used by both prespawn and postspawn bass as a transition area. The area was approximately 20-by-20 yards, and the water was 26 feet deep. Each morning Schoonveld worked the area with Carolina-rigged Zoom Brush Hogs and Hag’s Tornados, each in green-pumpkin color. Most of his bites came in 18 to 24 feet.
“I want to thank my wife and son. They have let me live my dream.”
Schoonveld is originally from Mansura, La., but the Zapata area and Falcon Lake in particular has become his second home. He now guides on the lake, and all that accumulated knowledge paid off big time this week.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros at the Stren Series Texas Division event on Falcon Lake:
6th: Ray Hanselman of Del Rio, Texas, three-day total of 77-2, $5,500
7th: James Stricklin Jr. of Jasper, Texas, 71-6, $5,000
8th: Dicky Newberry of Houston, 66-4, $4,500
9th: Larry Peacher of Bentley, La., 66-3, $4,000
10th: Jesse West of Strandquist, Minn., 50-1, $3,500
The next Stren Series event will take place Feb. 26-28 on Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, Fla., the season-opening qualifier in the Southeast Division. The next Texas Division event is slated for March 19-21 on the Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Jasper, Texas.