Strader's game plan today

Wesley Strader's got only one seven-hour practice day on Lake Norman after winning the Elite Series event Monday at Kentucky Lake. The first cast he made was in the tailrace below Lookout Shoals Dam. And he caught a 6-pound bass on the same 5/8ths-ounce Stan Sloan Zorro Bait Co. Bango Blade Wesley Strader Signature spinnerbait that was his primary lure at Kentucky Lake.

"I just got fortunate and pulled up in the right place and made the right cast, and I really didn't realize what was there," Strader said Friday. "I just said, 'That's where I'm starting (on Thursday).' Anytime you catch a 6-pounder at Lake Norman in May, that's a big fish for this time of year."

That's how this bass fishing game unfolds when you're "in the zone," and Wesley Strader is definitely in the zone. He demonstrated that Friday with his 17-pound, 6-ounce bag that gave him a 5-pound, 2-ounce lead entering the final day of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open at Lake Norman.

"It's like a typical Tennessee River tailrace bite," said Strader, who is from Spring City, Tenn. "When I got there (Friday) the water wasn't even on, and I caught a good one. It's real weird. There's no shad there until the water starts going. When it does and the sun gets high, there's some shad there and they're spawning.

"I've just got three little current seams I'm fishing. I stay way back off of them and fish. You've just got to keep casting, same place every time, over and over and over and over, and then - boom - you'll catch one."

Strader was done by 10 o'clock yesterday. He's got a back up plan - fishing docks - if the tailwater bite fails this morning. He probably needs only 10 or 11 pounds to win this tournament. Only two other bags over 15 pounds have been caught this week, and Strader begins the day with a 5-pound lead.

Photo by Andy Crawford