DENISON, Texas – Kellogg’s pro Jim Tutt makes no bones about it – he was in the right place at the right time. Of course, you have to know how to capitalize on such serendipitous alignment and that’s why he won the EverStart Texas Division event on Lake Texoma.
After leading day one with 17-11, Tutt stumbled on day two with only three fish in his bag and dropped to third. He came into the final round more than six pounds off the lead, but roared back with the tournament’s heaviest sack – 19-4 – and won by 3 ½ pounds with an even 44.
For three days, all of Tutt’s fish came on a Zoom trick worm on a 1/8-ounce Gambler Giggy Head. Tutt rotated between green pumpkin blue, green pumpkin red and straight green pumpkin. He dyed the tips of his worm tails chartreuse with a dye marker.
“I had a terrible practice,” Tutt said. “I fished docks for three days with spinnerbaits and caught a couple of fish, but I picked up the shaky head and probably got 30 bites on the third day. The next day, I went back to the spinnerbait and caught nothing, but got 20 bites on the shaky head. I said ‘The fish are telling me what to do.’ So that’s what I did and it worked out.”
For most of the event, he was targeting slick banks – featureless stretches with occasional bedding bass, as well as post-spawn fish feeding on bream. Today’s high winds prompted him to seek sheltered waters and the little secondary cove he selected was nothing short of a slam dunk.
“I went out this morning and fished on little area that I had fished (earlier) and had one little keeper on topwater and that was it,” Tutt said. “I told my partner, ‘We’re in the top 10 and we have a chance to win.’ So I went to a brand new area where I had never practiced and I had never fished before.
“I pulled in there, saw a few on the beds and started sight fishing,” he said. “I caught all of those big fish in about a 20-yard area.”
Tutt said he caught all but one of his day-three fish on a spinning rod with 8-pound test line. The one exception was a 6-pounder that broke Tutt’s 8-pound fluorocarbon, but amazingly offered a second shot – this time on 20-pound braid.
Tutt said his twin PowerPoles were essential to his victory: “That was the key to this tournament – the key. I could hold on the fish and they kept me there for hours.”
Moreover, his Lowrance sonar with Navionics mapping showed him his options in the lake and enabled him to select a suitable area with the right features.
“I picked out an area that looked like a protected cove where there might be some bedding fish,” Tutt said. “I knew I couldn’t catch that kind of quality by cranking, so I committed to fishing this area for a long time.”
With two prior victories, Tutt said his Texoma win is especially gratifying. “This is the third FLW tournament I’ve won and they get better every time.”
Points winner Castledine slips to second
Todd Castledine, of Nacogdoches, Texas, led the pro field into the final round, but he dropped back second after missing his fifth fish. Castledine’s day-three effort of 9-7 gave him a tournament total weight of 40-8.
Throughout the event, Castledine admitted that he was unable to establish any consistency. “I’m surprised I even got (to second place). I was just trying to make it to the top 10 or Angler of the Year.”
Castledine got his overall wish, as he won the Western Division points race.
“Every day, I just kind of figured it out – there was no set pattern for me, so even to be in the top 10 was good for me,” he said. “I caught some on a Zoom fluke this morning and one of the 3-pounders that I lost yesterday, I went back and caught her today sight fishing (with a blue Kicker Craw Jr.).
“I just kind of put stuff together. I was never really on anything, except for the second day. So, to come in second without being on anything, I can’t ask for anything better.”
Vining goes “old school”, finishes third
Gary Vining, of Morgan City, La. caught a limit of 12-7 to finish in third place with a 40-2 total. After a day-one finish in 14th place, Vining sacked up the biggest bag of day two – 16-6 – and improved to second.
His second-day success hinged on locating an area that replenished frequently with post-spawn fish. Targeting submerged wood cover, Vining threw a Texas-rigged Berkley Power Worm. Nothing fancy, just an effective classic presentation.
“I had a good week,” Vining said. “I was only here a couple of days practicing and I found some fish way up the river. I ran a good long way – and it was rough. I ran up past the second bridge.”
McFarlin goes slow, finishes fourth
Godonville, Texas pro Don McFarlin weighed a day three limit of 11-13 and tallied a total of 33-11 to place fourth. McFarlin caught most of his fish on Texas-rigged Power Worms and spinnerbaits. Today, the worms did the trick.
“There was a lot of pressure in the area, a lot of boats,” he said. “Everyone was throwing crankbaits and moving fast, so I said ‘I’m going to go as slow as possible.’ “It was a good week – I caught a whole lot of fish.”
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series Cal Delta event:
6th: Charles Bebber, of Willis, Texas, 31-7
7th: Ryan Lovelace, of Denison, Texas, 29-6
8th: Todd Thomas, of Fouke, Ark., 26-10
9th: David Mauldin, of Round Rock, Texas, 26-2
10th: Landan Ware, of Jewett, Texas, 25-6