Friday, June 7, 2013

2013 Walmart FLW Grand Lake Day 1: Christie and Houston Land One & Two!

by Gary Mortenson
FLW Press Release

GROVE, Okla. – Heading into the first day of FLW Tour competition this week, the big story was the overwhelmingly muddy conditions of Grand Lake and how it would affect the field’s ability to find clean water in an attempt to land bountiful stringers. However, by the time day-one weigh-in had concluded, the big news was focused squarely on the personalities that dominated the leaderboard.
Jason has been on a hot streak! This could his third win this year.
(Photo: FLW)
Standing in first place was Rayovac team pro Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., who parlayed a total catch of 21 pounds, 12 ounces into the overall lead. But sliding into second place, a mere 5 ounces behind Christie, was none other than larger-than-life television personality and fishing legend Jimmy Houston of Cookson, Okla.
The all-Oklahoma one-two punch proved, not surprisingly, to offer up a series of distinct contrasts to the delight of bass-fishing fans everywhere.
“I live 5 minutes away from (Houston) but we’re pretty different,” said Christie in a rare moment of levity. “But you guys already know that.”
To be sure, the differences between the two highly decorated anglers are cavernous. Christie is an elite “young gun” who, over the past three seasons, has earned the right to be considered one of the best anglers on Tour. Houston is a fishing legend, having fished competitively for decades, and the proud host of one of the longest standing fishing shows in the industry.
Houston is a shallow water spinnerbait specialist who thrives in conditions such as the chocolate milk waters that dominated Grand Lake today. Meanwhile, Christie is comfortable throwing a variety of baits and isn’t afraid to take his boat into deeper waters when necessary.
Houston will talk you ear off if he gets a chance and will have a crowd rolling in laughter within seconds. Christie is more reserved and offers a more yeoman-like approach to the sport.
However, what’s clear after today’s first round of tournament action is that both anglers are good – very good. And both anglers are set up to thrive on Grand Lake – a venue that more or less represents the hometown body of water for both individuals.
Christie on top … for now
Although Christie was one of the pre-tournament favorites coming into the event, the muddy conditions appeared to have leveled the playing field. Christie had also acknowledged that he didn’t have the most stellar practice either. However, when push came to shove, Christie proved once again why he should be considered as one of the best up-and-coming anglers on the Tour today.
“I exceeded my expectations today big time. I was just hoping to catch 15 or 16 pounds but I got lucky and pulled up on the right spot at the right time,” said Christie. “I was really struggling out there this morning. So finally I said to myself, ‘the heck with this,’ and decided to do something completely different.”
Around 12:30 p.m. Christie pulled up on a spot where he had “caught a lot of fish” previously. And as it turned out, that proved to be the winning ticket – at least for today.
“I finally caught them pretty good,” said Christie about his primary fishing location that offered some ledge-like structure. “That was the key to my day. And I’m pretty proud of myself for making a change like that. Just realizing that what I was doing wasn’t working was important.”
While Christie didn’t want to give too many details of his location, he did acknowledge that there really aren’t any truly clandestine prime fishing locations on Grand.
“There are no secrets on this lake,” he said. “Basically if you’re not catching fish, you’re not in the right place. You just have to move around until you find them.”
Houston, we have a contender
Although Jimmy Houston is known for his gregarious personality and hilariously informative television program, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the Oklahoma native is one heck of a competitive fisherman – even at this stage of his career. Well, today everyone got a reminder of just what Houston can bring to the table when it comes to a proving one’s mettle on the FLW Tour.
Bolstered by a total catch of 21 pounds, 7 ounces, Houston grabbed second place overall – in the process virtually guaranteeing that this week will be one of the most entertaining Tour events of the season.
“I had about as good of a day as you could ask for,” said Houston. “Anytime you give me a spinnerbait and some muddy water, I’m in my element.”
Houston also acknowledged that he struggled in practice. But then he relied on some advice from fellow competitor Tom Monsoor and managed to turn things around in a hurry.
“I spoke with Tommy and he kind of gave me an idea on how to get some bigger bites,” he said. “And that made a difference. I was able to run to a bunch of areas and have some pretty good success. I wound up catching a bunch of fish in areas I didn’t even practice at but knew held fish. The first fish I caught was a 4 ½-pounder and that was bigger than anything I’d caught all week.”
“A lot of the water where I caught most of my fish there was hardly anybody there,” Houston continued. “And that’s almost never the case in an event like this.”
Although Houston said he was concerned about the dropping water levels, he says he has a backup plan.
“I can go to the dam and catch fish in about 8 feet of water if I need to,” he said. “But hopefully it won’t come to that. I’m really working hard to catch fish shallow. We just need another day like today.”
But of course the day couldn’t be complete without a good Jimmy Houston story.
“I actually threw back a fish that was about a half of a pound larger than some of the fish I already had in the boat,” he said. “I’m not sure what I was thinking. I was looking around for a green-tagged fish and kind of lost track of it. So I threw a bigger fish back. I’ve actually done that before. I don’t know why I keep doing stuff like that.”
Best of the rest
Finishing the day in third place was Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C. Auten ended the afternoon with a total catch of 20 pounds, 12 ounces.
Meanwhile, Randy Blaukat of Joplin, Mo., snared fourth place overall with a total catch of 20 pounds, 3 ounces. However, like Christie and Houston, Blaukat also considers Grand Lake one of his second homes.
“I’ve been fishing this lake since I was about 5 years old,” said Blaukat. “Growing up, this lake was only like 45 minutes from my house. And I’ve probably spent over 1,000 days on this lake.”
Blaukat said that he had originally planned on fishing shallow but decided to change things up on the fly during today’s competition.
“I tried fishing out deeper in practice but wasn’t really catching anything, so I decided to fish shallow today,” he said. “But while I was on my shallow-water milk run I stopped off at this one deep spot. When I pulled up they were on it. I didn’t catch anything there in practice but today I stayed there for three hours. I probably had eight to 10 quality bites. The area is basically a rough bottom with deep water nearby.”
Blaukat said all of the right pieces are there for him to make a run at title as well.
“I know what to do to catch the big ones. And I know what to do to catch numbers,” he said. “It’s just a matter of pulling up on the right spots at the right time and getting those big fish in the boat. Today I lost three really big fish – one in the 7-pound class, one 5-pounder and another big one I couldn’t see. But it’s easy to lose those deeper fish because they have a tendency to come up and start jumping. I should have had at least 25 pounds today, easy. But there is not much you can do about it – it’s just the way those fish are biting the bait.”
Blaukat also walked away with the 3M ScotchBlue Big Bass Award after netting a 5-pound, 14-ounce largemouth. For his efforts, Blaukat won $500.
Rounding out the top-five pro leaders was Matthew Stefan of Park Ridge, Ill. Stefan ultimately finished the day with a total catch of 20 pounds, 3 ounces.
For a complete list of pro results, click here.
Honeycutt snares co-angler lead
Bolstered by a total catch of 17 pounds, 11 ounces, Keith Honeycutt of Temple, Texas, grabbed the top spot in the Co-angler Division. However, while Honeycutt was pleased with his first-place result, he also lamented the fish that got away.
“It was a great day today. I caught a 5-pounder on my third cast of the day and probably caught two limits of fish overall,” said Honeycutt. “But the miscues are what really hurts you. I wound up losing two 5-pounders flipping. They just jumped off. I really could have blown this tournament wide open. But that’s fishing.”
Honeycutt said he targeted fish with a shallow running crankbait early. Then he changed gears and switched to flipping bushes with a ½-ounce black-and-blue Oldham’s jig.
Horton nets runner-up position
Mark Horton of Nicholasville, Ky., parlayed a 17-pound, 9-ounce catch into a second-place finish after today’s competition.
“I got really lucky today,” said Horton. “I had a great partner in Randall Tharp and he had me on fish all day long. It’s been pretty exciting actually.”
Horton said that he threw a swim jig and a 1/2-ounce flipping jig in about 3 feet of water to land the majority of his catch.
And while he wasn’t sure he could duplicate his day’s catch tomorrow, Horton said that he’s already learned enough to have made the tournament a worthwhile experience.
“I think I learned some stuff from Randall today that I can take with me for the rest of the tournament,” he said. “And beyond that.”
Evans nets third place
Dustin Evans of Eads, Tenn., grabbed third place overall with a total catch of 16 pounds, 10 ounces.
“It’s a wonderful feeling (to be in contention),” Evans said.
The Tennessee native said that he threw a variety of shallow-water baits, including square-bill crankbaits, swimbaits and spinnerbaits, to land the majority of his catch.
“I had five rods in use all day and was pretty much fishing shallow, mostly in 3 to 4 feet,” he said. ‘I caught some fish off of docks, some off of wood and others in the bushes. It was a real scattered deal. If I’m able to fish the same type of areas tomorrow, I’ll be as happy as can be.”
Rounding out the top-five co-anglers:
4th: Tim Guard of Waynetown, Ind., with a total catch of 15 pounds, 15 ounces.
5th: Brock Mosley of Collinsville, Miss., with a catch of 15 pounds, 14 ounces.
Mike Devere of Berea, Ky., took home 3M Peltor Big Bass Award in the Co-angler Division with a catch weighing 5 pounds, 5 ounces. For his efforts, Devere won $250.
For a complete list of co-angler results, click here.
FLW Tour action on Grand Lake continues with Friday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. at Wolf Creek Park, located at 963 North 16th St. in Grove, Okla.

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