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Strother Won Beaver With His Key Final-Day Switch

Thursday, April 13, 2006
by Chris Koester

Richard Strother is a 62-year-old retired phone company employee from Tyler, Texas. During his 32-year-career, he did almost everything within the phone company at one time or another, but spent most of his time on construction, electrical and technical work.

After retiring a few years ago, he went back to work doing what he really enjoys - fishing.

At last week's Wal-Mart Open (Beaver FLW), he did what only seemed natural: he picked up his equipment, went to work and dialed up a big win.


Strother didn't make a single cast at Beaver Lake prior to the tournament. With experience fishing the lake during this time of year from two previous Beaver FLWs, he felt fairly comfortable with what he was going to do for the tournament.

It seems every year on the FLW Tour we have at least one or two co-angler champions who start by just showing up at the dock the day the tournament starts without ever having made a cast prior to the tournament.

Maybe it's a little bit of luck, maybe it's a testament to the co-angler's ability to quickly adapt and figure things out during the tournament, or maybe it's the advantage of a clear mind unaffected by preconceived practice notions.

Photo: FLW Outdoors/Jeff Schroeder
Richard Strother worked his jigworm the first 2 days, but had to change on day 3.

More than likely, it's a little of each.

Whatever the reason, it worked for Richard Strother at Beaver Lake this year.

Day 1

> Day 1: 5, 9-04

Strother found himself paired with Washingston pro Clint Johanson for the first tournament day. Not interested in re-inventing the wheel, he went immediately to work with the Beaver Lake co-angler standard – the jigworm.

"It's was a co-angler's dream," he said. "I was throwing what I was familiar with – the Spot Remover jighead with a finesse worm – dragging it down rocks, and it worked good. I had a good day.

"(Johanson) had designated me official time-keeper. We had 6 minutes left in the day, and we stopped off on a shale bank near the check-in. I only had four fish at the time. We pulled up and I caught a keeper Kentucky (spotted bass) and limited out. Then on the next cast I caught a keeper largemouth and culled a smaller fish.

"I was doing what I call 'scratching the rocks.' I just keep my worm on the bottom and scratch it along the rocks. I do break off a bunch of them, but I use braided line with a fluorocarbon leader and I can feel everything down there."

His solid limit compared favorably with the rest of the co-angler contingent, and he found himself sitting comfortably in 5th place at the end of the Day 1 weigh-in.

Day 2

> Day 2: 4, 6-09 (9, 15-13)

Strother was paired with pro David Lauer for day 2, who was fishing some different areas and different types of cover. Strother elected to just dance with the one who brought him, and kept after the fish with his trusty jigworm.

"Lauer was fishing trees and bushes. This was different than throwing the Spot Remover over rocks, but I was still able to make it work. I caught three keepers doing that. We came to that same shale bank near check-in where I caught two keepers the day before, and I caught my fourth fish."

Although one fish short of his limit, Strother's overall weight was still enough to move him into 2nd place. With a coveted Top 10 qualifying slot, he would have his chance at co-angler glory.

Day 3

> Day 3: 3, 8-11

For the final fateful tournament day, Strother fished with pro Jeffrey Thomas. As it turned out, he was going to be forced out of this comfort zone pretty quickly by Thomas' fishing location and style, which differed dramatically from his partner draws the first 2 days.

Photo: FLW Outdoors/Gary Mortenson
Strother's three fish on day 3 were enough to clinch the win.

Thomas was running up the river and mainly throwing crankbaits in very shallow water.

"I tried to start with (the Spot Remover), and I did catch one good fish on the first point on it - I just made a short cast and dragged it down the bank that he had already fished with his crankbait.

"But then (we) went out onto some shallow flats, and the Spot Remover isn't going to work in the mud."

For the first time in the tournament, Strother was forced to get out of his jigworm groove and switch gears. Just like many co-angler champions before him, he changed up and adapted on the final day, and found a different way to catch his fish than what had worked so well for him during the qualifying rounds.

"I tried a spinnerbait, buzzbait, (Zoom) Horny Toad. I tried to get a topwater bite and maybe catch a good fish. (Thomas) had caught one keeper and several short fish on some type of a lipless crankbait, so I had to go to that.

"We were going up the mud-flat, throwing into maybe 6 inches of water, with the boat only in maybe 2 feet of water. The water was really dirty. I was trying to make longer casts than him – trying to reach some water that hadn't really been fished. He wasn't making really long casts.

"I was crawling it through the mud in that shallow water, letting it tick along the bottom. I caught several short fish and a keeper doing that."

He caught his next fish from cover.

"The second good fish I caught was really a surprise. I threw towards a bush, a good target, and the wind was blowing really hard. Instead of throwing next to the bush, it landed right in it and got hung up. I pulled and pulled and it would not come off. I was going to try to break it off, so I wound down and tightened the drag and pulled again.

"It popped loose, and when I took up the slack he was there - it was a good fish."

Although the number of fish he weighed decreased by one fish each day, Strother's 3-fish bag on the final day weighed enough to beat the nine other co-angler finalists. This included 2nd-place finisher Derek Moyer's 5-pound limit on what turned out to be a fairly difficult fishing day for the entire co-angler field.

Winning Gear Notes

> Jigworm gear: 6'6" medium-heavy Falcon spinning rod, Daiwa 2500 spinning reel, 10-pound Spiderwire braid, 10-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader, 1/4-ounce Spot Remover jighead (green-pumpkin), Zoom Finesse Worm (green-pumpkin, watermelonseed and watermelonseed/red-flake).

> Strother noted: "I like to use a 1/8-ounce Spot Remover, but with the wind I had to go straight to the 1/4-ounce to keep it on the bottom."

> Lipless crankbait gear: 6'6" medium-light Falcon rod, Shimano Chronarch casting reel, 12-pound Trilene Big Game, 1/4-ounce Rat-L-Trap (chrome and blue back/orange belly).

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