Wesley Strader Wins 2018 Elite Series Kentucky Lake

Power Pole

Wesley Strader and his wife Stephanie Celebrate his win at the 2018 Elite Series Kentucky Lake event – photo by Seigo Saito / B.A.S.S.

PARIS, Tenn. — The final day of the Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Kentucky Lake presented by Abu Garcia threw Wesley Strader the right pitch, and he knocked it out of the park.

Strader, a first-year Elite Series pro from Spring City, Tenn., caught a final-day limit of five bass that weighed 20 pounds, 11 ounces and earned his first Elite Series victory with a four-day total of 80-4

After sitting in 16th place on Day 1 with 19-6, Strader added 17-13 Saturday and improved to 11th, before taking over the Day 3 lead with 22-6 — the biggest catch of Sunday’s semifinal round.

His final-day catch cemented a $100,000 payday.

“Yesterday, I figured out that the fish were positioning under the walkways on the docks,” he said. “Today, that went away; they got out under the floats. It seemed like, as the sun got higher, the shade got tighter to the docks and you could pretty much pinpoint where they’d bite.

“I didn’t think the shad spawn was that big of a deal for me today. But I pulled up on a stretch of docks that I had not fished early in the morning and just about every cast, when I’d reel my bait out from underneath the floats, there would be two or three threadfin shad following my spinnerbait.”

Unlike the previous days, Strader was unable to leverage the early-morning shad spawn. But he put several keepers in the boat by alternating between a 5/8-ounce Stan Sloan Bango Blade spinnerbait with a white swimbait trailer, a buzzbait, a popping frog and a white Zoom Z-Craw that he swam through shallow bushes.

He still found some early productivity. But it was a magical, one-hour midday flurry that vaulted Strader into the unofficial BASSTrakk lead.

Flipping shallow bushes in a small pocket off Big Sandy Creek, Strader added three solid keepers — all 4-plus pounds — to his livewell. That left him releasing fish he normally would would not cull.

“That’s a good problem to have — catching 3-pounders and they can’t help you,” said Strader, as he chuckled during a BASS Live segment.

Strader caught his flipping fish on a Texas-rigged Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a 5/16-ounce Reins Tungsten sinker and a 5/0 Trokar hook fished on 20-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon. The Tramp Stamp color, he said, has proven productive in all his previous Kentucky Lake events. Trusting that pattern Monday proved to be a winning decision.

“For some reason, in this tea-colored water, they like that color,” he said.

Strader said his fish were probably postspawners. Targeting likely staging areas with vertical falls was key.

“I think I was just on a hot pocket where they were either coming out or guarding fry; I don’t think they were spawning,” he said. “They were just in those bushes chilling, and it was all on the initial fall of the bait.”

Auburn, Calif., superstar Skeet Reese missed his limit by one fish. But his four bass weighed 17-10 and he still finished second with 76-6. Reese spent much of his final day throwing a 7-inch line-through swimbait, but some of his key bites during the tournament came on a a Lucky Craft Magnum SKT squarebill.

“That’s a giant squarebill,” Reese said. “These fish aren’t eating little threadfin shad. They’re eating gizzard shad. They’re eating carp. So I did key in on the big baits this week. I caught some 4s, 5s and 6s on it.

Kelly Jaye of Dadeville, Ala., added a solid limit of 18-7 on the final day and improved two spots to third place with 73-6. Jaye caught all of his fish on a Megabass Vision 110 jerkbait in the matte shad color.

Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., placed fourth with 71-8, and Fred Roumbanis of Russellville, Ark., placed fifth with 70-5.

Bradley Roy was awarded $1,000 for the leading the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race at the end of the event.

Strader also earned the Power-Pole Captain’s Cash Award of $1,000 for being the highest-placing angler who is registered and eligible and uses a client-approved product on his boat.

Shaw Grigsby Jr. was awarded $1,500 dollars as the winner of the Phoenix Boats Big Bass award. He had the largest bass of the tournament with a 7-11 on Day 2.

Christie was awarded the Toyota Bonus Bucks Award of $3,000 for being the highest-placing eligible entrant in the program. The second-highest-placing eligible entrant, Josh Bertrand, received $2,000.

2018 Bassmaster Elite At Kentucky Lake Title Sponsor: Berkley

2018 Bassmaster Elite At Kentucky Lake Presenting Sponsor: Abu Garcia

2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Huk

2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Lowrance, Phoenix Boats, T-H Marine, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Carhartt, Livingston Lures

2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Elite Partner: Black Velvet Canadian Whisky
2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Local Partner: Mountain Dew
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Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), radio show (Bassmaster Radio), social media programs and events. For 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Series presented by Magellan Outdoors, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
2018 Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Kentucky Lake presented by Abu Garcia 5/4-5/7
Kentucky Lake, Paris TN.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 4
Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts Total $$$
1. Wesley Strader Spring City, TN 20 80-04 110 $101,000.00
Day 1: 5 19-06 Day 2: 5 17-13 Day 3: 5 22-06 Day 4: 5 20-11
2. Skeet Reese Auburn, CA 18 76-06 109 $25,000.00
Day 1: 5 23-11 Day 2: 5 21-10 Day 3: 4 13-07 Day 4: 4 17-10
3. Kelley Jaye Dadeville, AL 20 73-06 108 $20,000.00
Day 1: 5 22-00 Day 2: 5 11-14 Day 3: 5 21-01 Day 4: 5 18-07
4. Jason Christie Park Hill, OK 20 71-08 107 $15,000.00
Day 1: 5 20-13 Day 2: 5 18-15 Day 3: 5 16-09 Day 4: 5 15-03
5. Fred Roumbanis Russellville, AR 18 70-05 106 $14,000.00
Day 1: 5 17-15 Day 2: 5 22-11 Day 3: 3 13-03 Day 4: 5 16-08
6. Josh Bertrand San Tan Valley, AZ 20 69-08 105 $13,500.00
Day 1: 5 20-02 Day 2: 5 13-15 Day 3: 5 18-06 Day 4: 5 17-01
7. Bobby Lane Jr. Lakeland, FL 20 68-08 104 $13,000.00
Day 1: 5 20-07 Day 2: 5 18-02 Day 3: 5 15-03 Day 4: 5 14-12
8. Greg Hackney Gonzales, LA 20 66-10 103 $12,500.00
Day 1: 5 16-14 Day 2: 5 19-09 Day 3: 5 16-02 Day 4: 5 14-01
9. Brent Chapman Lake Quivira, KS 19 65-14 102 $12,000.00
Day 1: 5 17-04 Day 2: 5 18-04 Day 3: 5 19-05 Day 4: 4 11-01
10. Boyd Duckett Guntersville, AL 17 64-09 101 $11,500.00
Day 1: 4 14-02 Day 2: 5 24-00 Day 3: 5 17-15 Day 4: 3 08-08
11. Shaw Grigsby Jr. Gainesville, FL 17 60-12 100 $12,500.00
Day 1: 5 19-12 Day 2: 5 20-13 Day 3: 4 13-07 Day 4: 3 06-12
12. Mark Menendez Paducah, KY 16 56-02 99 $10,500.00
Day 1: 5 16-00 Day 2: 5 20-09 Day 3: 5 16-01 Day 4: 1 03-08
Shaw Grigsby Jr. Gainesville, FL 07-11 $1,500.00
Day #Limits #Fish Weight
1 82 493 1589-05
2 70 473 1482-06
3 32 208 645-08
4 7 50 164-02
191 1224 3881-05