Stricklin places eighth in Lake of the Ozarks tournamentPublished 12:01am Sunday, March 31, 2013
VIDALIA — Michael Stricklin is well on his way to making a name for himself in the world of bass fishing.
At just 16 years old, the Vidalia resident has already competed in two FLW Outdoors Central Division fishing tournaments so far this year. And his most recent tournament has helped put him on the map.
Stricklin fished in the EverStart Series’ Lake of the Ozarks (Mo.) three-day tournament March 14-16, and he didn’t disappoint. As a co-angler to Tim Fleetwood, Robert Dodson and Shawn Kowal — he fished with each of them on separate days — Stricklin finsihed in eighth place out of 122 fishers in the tournament with a total weight of 15-02 with five fish. The finish earned him $1,346.
“It felt awesome,” Stricklin said of finishing so high. “I was fifth on the second day, and you had to finish in the top 10 to make it to the third day.”
Stricklin estimates most of the people competing in the tournament were over 30, with a few mid-20s fishermen thrown in.
“It’s great to know that I’m starting to be able to compete,” Stricklin said. “My goal is to finish this year and fish in the FLW tour and FLW Central EverStart.”
The Lake of the Ozarks tournament was Stricklin’s first time to fish clear water, and he said it forced him to use a lighter line and different styles than he was used to. A pre-fishing session with fisherman Shane Long also went a long way, Stricklin said.
“It wasn’t hard to adjust, but if it wasn’t for Shane letting me pre-fish for two days, I never would have adjusted,” Stricklin said.
Stricklin described the tournament’s weather as “crazy,” saying it went from cold to warm to snowing in just several days.
“With the temperature going up and down, you had to figure out how (the fish) wanted the bait,” Stricklin said.
On day one, Stricklin fished in dirty water, catching five fish but losing three of them. On day two, he fished clear water and caught 10 fish, two of which were weighed in. One of those weighed 5.13 pounds.
“Then there wasn’t another bite until after 2:30 (p.m.), and I caught another keeper,” Stricklin said.
With a No. 5 finish between days one and two, Stricklin qualified for a third day of fishing. Stricklin fished a bluff on the third day that was 30 feet deep.
“The fish weren’t active, and the people that did catch fish were on brush patterns,” Stricklin said. “The fish didn’t want jerk bait, so I ended up (with none) that day.”
Stricklin said he’s grateful to the many people who helped him along the way, beginning with his grandfather, Vidalia resident David Cooper.
“He got me into fishing and taught me a lot about it,” Stricklin said. “I just went from there.”
Stricklin also said he wanted to thank Long, Richy and Ronnie Gillespie, Chris Stricklin, Claude Rabb, Randy Pitre, John Bruce and “Paw Paw” Rick Roth for helping him along the way.
With the early success he’s having in fishing, Stricklin has already accumulated a number of sponsors. Those include Daniels Automotive and Racing Services, Sullivan Collision, Rat-L-Trap, Bass Assault Lures, Rivergate Bowl, The Markets, Okhissa Lake Tackle, Pitchard Farms, Nikki’s Restaurant, Fullchoke Calls, Bryan’s Marine, K&M Custom Rods, The Floor Station, Mom and Dad Enterprise and Denali Rods.
Stricklin is the son of Bethany and Michael Stricklin.