Strader Notches First Bassmaster Elite Series Victory on Kentucky Lake

Wesley Strader comes from behind and wins the Bassmaster Elite Series on Kentucky Lake

The final day of the Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Kentucky Lakepresented by Abu Garcia threw Wesley Strader the right pitch, and he knocked it out of the park.

Strader, a first-year Elite Series pro from Spring City, Tenn., caught a final-day limit of five bass that weighed 20 pounds, 11 ounces and earned his first Elite Series victory with a four-day total of 80-4.

After sitting in 16th place on Day 1 with 19-6, Strader added 17-13 Saturday and improved to 11th, before taking over the Day 3 lead with 22-6 – the biggest catch of Sunday’s semifinal round.

His final-day catch cemented a $100,000 payday.


“Yesterday, I figured out that the fish were positioning under the walkways on the docks,” he said. “Today, that went away; they got out under the floats. It seemed like, as the sun got higher, the shade got tighter to the docks and you could pretty much pinpoint where they’d bite.


“I didn’t think the shad spawn was that big of a deal for me today. But I pulled up on a stretch of docks that I had not fished early in the morning and just about every cast, when I’d reel my bait out from underneath the floats, there would be two or three threadfin shad following myspinnerbait.”


Unlike the previous days, Strader was unable to leverage the early-morning shad spawn. But he put several keepers in the boat by alternating between a 5/8-ounce Stan Sloan Bango Blade spinnerbait with a white swimbait trailer, a buzzbait, a popping frog and a white Zoom Z-Craw that he swamthrough shallow bushes.

He still found some early productivity. But it was a magical, one-hour midday flurry that vaulted Strader into the unofficial BASSTrakk lead.

Flipping shallow bushes in a small pocket off Big Sandy Creek, Strader added three solid keepers – all 4-plus pounds – to his livewell. That left him releasing fish he normally would not cull.


“That’s a good problem to have – catching 3-pounders and they can’t help you,” said Strader, as he chuckled during a BASS Live segment.

Strader caught his flipping fish on a Texas-rigged Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a 5/16-ounce Reins Tungsten sinker and a 5/0 Trokar hook fished on 20-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon. The Tramp Stamp color, he said, has proven productive in all his previous Kentucky Lake events.Trusting that pattern Monday proved to be a winning decision.

“For some reason, in this tea-colored water, they like that color,” he said.


Strader said his fish were probably postspawners. Targeting likely staging areas with vertical falls was key.

“I think I was just on a hot pocket where they were either coming out or guarding fry; I don’t think they were spawning,” he said. “They were just in those bushes chilling, and it was all on the initial fall of the bait.”

Auburn, Calif., superstar Skeet Reese missed his limit by one fish. But his four bass weighed 17-10 and he still finished second with 76-6. Reese spent much of his final day throwing a 7-inch line-through swimbait, but some of his key bites during the tournament came on a Lucky Craft Magnum SKT squarebill.

“That’s a giant squarebill,” Reese said. “These fish aren’t eating little threadfin shad. They’re eating gizzard shad. They’re eating carp. So Idid key in on the big baits this week. I caught some 4s, 5s and 6s on it.

Kelly Jaye of Dadeville, Ala., added a solid limit of 18-7 on the final day and improved two spots to third place with 73-6. Jaye caught all of his fish on a Megabass Vision 110 jerkbait in the matte shad color.

Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., placed fourth with 71-8, and Fred Roumbanis of Russellville, Ark., placed fifthwith 70-5.

Bradley Roy was awarded $1,000 for the leading the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of theYear points race at the end of the event.​

Strader also earned the Power-Pole Captain’s Cash Award of $1,000 for being the highest-placing angler who is registered and eligible and uses a client-approved product on his boat.​

Shaw Grigsby Jr. was awarded $1,500 dollars as the winner of the Phoenix Boats Big Bass award. He had the largest bass of the tournament with a 7​-11 on Day 2.​

Christie was awarded the Toyota Bonus Bucks Award of $3,000 for being thehighest-placing eligible entrant in the program. The second-highest-placingeligible entrant, Josh Bertrand​, received $2,000.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide. Gear

Get Ready for Summer with Cordova Coolers

May 23, 2019

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide.

Now that you know you might screw it up the next time a big fish bites, let's fix it. Fishing How-To

Why You'll Lose Your Next Big Bass

Larry Larsen

Now that you know you might screw it up the next time a big fish bites, let's fix it.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Berkley

Berkley's Frittside Crankbaits

World Fishing Network show host Chad LaChance had a chance to visit with legendary crankbait master David Fritts about his new Frittside crankbaits from Berkley. LaChance, host of the Fishful Thinker on WFN, also got a few cranking tips from Fritts, the former Classic and Forrest Wood Cup champion.

13 Fishing Inception SZ

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

MLF Pros: What

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the biggest pike come from Europe. Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a species Catfish

10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

See More Stories

More News

Recent world-record submissions to the International Game Fish Association. Records

IGFA Submissions: Biggest Australian Bass Ever?

G&F Online Staff - November 29, 2018

Recent world-record submissions to the International Game Fish Association.

A pair of giant bass caught in shallow water on back-to-back days in early March is a great sign spring fishing has arrived. Bass

Back-to-Back East Texas Lunkers Prove Spring Is Near

Lynn Burkhead - March 18, 2019

A pair of giant bass caught in shallow water on back-to-back days in early March is a great...

Catch-and-release still permitted, but harvest and possession are not. News

Florida Orders Halt to Keeping Shoal Bass from Chipola

G&F Online Staff - June 07, 2019

Catch-and-release still permitted, but harvest and possession are not.

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×