Fishing & Boating News
A severe cold front and harsh winds gusting up to 30 mph resulted in only six of the registered teams catching a five-bass limit. Despite the adverse conditions, the winners proved Richland Chambers as home to big central Texas bass and a premier tournament destination.
Matlock and McFarlin have a combined 80 years of tournament experience and faced difficult weather changes before. The anglers' ability to locate bass while pre-fishing and the decision to adjust their strategy to match changing weather and water conditions helped the team catch fish where others struggled.
"A combination of starting with plastics and downsizing weights was the key," said Matlock. "We were catching them while everyone else was still trying to figure it out. We made the right choice at the right time. We were just one step ahead today."
The team caught fish with a frog during practice but made an overnight decision to use soft plastics because of the impending weather. This proved to be the determining factor as the bite shut off early in the day.
"Last night we talked about the cold front and what it would do to the frog bite, which was how we were catching them in practice," said Matlock. "So we decided to switch to a Craw Worm and a Brush Hog. We went to one spot where we know a good one was located on a bed. Within five minutes, we caught our biggest fish of the day - a 5.56 pounder."
Second-place finishers Randy Millender and Rickey Cannon, both of Teague, Texas, were unsuccessful at locating bass on beds but knew the fish would stay in the area.
"They weren't on beds," said Millender. "The wind was so strong today that is stained up. The high pressure moved them a bit too. They didn't move too far - like five or 10 feet off. We never saw any bass at all today. We just knew the fish were in there and were committed. So we'd fan cast the area."
Despite only getting eight bites all day they checked in a 22.65-pound limit and earned a total payout of $6,646.
Just a few ounces separated second and third place. Jeff Stevens of Flower Mounds, Texas, and Brian Clark of Haltom City, Texas, took third place with a 22.59-pound stringer, earning $4,450. They relied on a reaction bite and lure variety to catch fish others missed.
"Literally we switched rods out every three to four casts," explained Stevens. "Some of those fish had six or seven boats go across them today. A lot of people were throwing Senkos and fishing slow. We were triggering more of a reaction strike, especially with the swimming jig. We were making longer casts and then reeling it so fast they didn't have time to think about it. We both like to fish fast and fish shallow."
The Richland Chambers event produced an 8.3-pound largemouth, caught by 37th-place finishers Neal Childers and Ben Fuller, claiming the $1,030 Big Bass Award.
The next tournament stop for the TXTT is set for April 16 at Lake Texoma. The 2016 schedule includes some legendary Texas bass fisheries and features huge payouts with unprecedented contingency opportunities.
Texas Team Trail events are made possible through the sponsorship and continued support of these well-respected brands: Cabela's, Ranger Boats, Lucas Oil, Evinrude, RAM, Mercury, Minn Kota, Triton Boats, Power-Pole, Amphibia, Arctic Ice, Stratos Boats, Lowrance, Navionics, Protect the Harvest, BoatU.S., General Tire, SuperClean, Garmin, Valley Fashions, T-H Marine, Atlas, G-Juice, Powertex Group.
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