DENISON, Texas — Terry Butcher dominated the field at the Central Open on Lake Texoma, outpacing his competition by almost 12 pounds on the way to his second BASS victory.Butcher began each day by getting a quick limit cranking riprap. Then, while most of the Open anglers struggled to find a successful bite in the afternoon, he pulled off the bank to patiently fish a series of brushpiles and upgraded.Despite the tough conditions, Butcher brought 17 pounds, 1 ounce to the scales on Day One to open up a 2-pound lead. His weight slipped slightly with windy weather on Day Two, but he still brought in one of the biggest bags with 13-9to extend his lead. His 15-14 bag slammed the door shut on the final day and included the day's big bass of 4-10.Butcher had only fished one other tournament on Texoma, a small, regional tournament which he won on the opposite end of the lake.He spent five days practicing, which he mostly described as nondescript"I had a few good days in practice, but the other days were just eliminating water," he said.
Butcher managed to hone his practice into a two-sided plan for the tournament. He had a stretch of productive riprap to catch a quick limit and then he would move off the bank to fish brushpiles in the afternoon.
The first day would have gone according to plan, but his boat broke down early in the morning."After breaking down, I started fishing some rocks and I caught three good fish while I was waiting for a boat," Butcher said.
Fortunately for Butcher, his Elite Series roommate Jami Fralick also broke down first thing on Day One. Fralick got back to the launch and borrowed the Nitro service crew's spare boat.I called the service crew and they thought they would have it (Fralick's boat) fixed quickly so they asked his girlfriend and his mom and brought it to me," Butcher said.
With both anglers in the heat of a Bassmaster Classic race, it was a tremendous show of sportsmanship on Fralick's part, one that he said he would do again without hesitation.In fact, according to Butcher, the same scenario unfolded during the previous tournament."At Kentucky Lake, the last tournament, I broke down and his dad loaned me his boat," Butcher said.With sportsmanship running in the family, it was only fitting that Fralick should claim the final spot in the Bassmaster Classic by only two points over Butcher. One got the Classic bid and one got the tournament win. Both insisted they were happy for the other.After receiving the loaner boat, Butcher then moved off the bank and worked a series of deeper brushpiles with BD6 Fat Free Shad in the chartreuse sparkle color to finish out his limit. He also caught his biggest fish on a plum candy YUM ribbontail worm.
"The whole key was to soak it in the brushpile," Butcher said "The first day I fished a brushpile for 15 minutes. I was just getting ready to leave but I made another pitch and caught a 5-pounder. That let me know that I needed to soak that worm in there."On Day Two, the wind changed directions, which made for better conditions around the shallower riprap but shut down the bite on his deeper brushpiles. He still managed to bring in over 13 pounds by cranking a Foxy Shad 4A Bomber in about 4 feet of water Day Three began without a trace of wind and a bright, cloudless sky.
"Day Three it was really scary in the morning," Butcher said. "I had been catching them early on the rocks, but because of the calm conditions I didn't do any good. I had just one 1.5-pounder at 10, so I backed off and started fishing the brushpiles and got well in a hurry."Butcher's key to fishing the brushpiles was patience and confidence that he knew big fish were down there."I didn't fish that many brushpiles, I just fished the one's I had very hard."