The Long Journey to Angler of The Year!The Long Journey to Angler of The Year! We'll go step by step and see what a team did, how they approached each lake, and how they caught their fish.
By Bill Wilcox
When it comes to tournament fishing, there have always been different levels of anglers. One group is the one that tries hard and will win a tournament now and then. The second one is always a threat to win any tournament, anywhere and at the end of the season if they don't win Angler of The Year, it pushes the team that does win it.
In this past season of the Honey Hole northeast Top 40 teams one team fished in six tournaments with two seconds, a third, a fourth, a sixth, and with their lowest finish a 12th. That's the team of Mike Stroman, and Allen Swarts. Mike is 47 years old, married to Sharon with two children. Allen is 43, has three children, and is married to Susan. Mike has worked as an electric tech for 22 years. Allen is the inside sales manger for Priefert Ranch Equipment. They both became interested in fishing at a young age. In fact, both even caught their first bass on the same type of lure. It was an H&H spinner. They met on a boat ramp at Cypress Springs when it first opened. They also fished with the Sandlin Lake Bassmasters and were either first or second in one nine-year period. This year was the first time for Allen and Mike to win Angler of The Year. But they both have taken the honors with other partners, three different times.
Now, lets get to the most important part: How to catch more fish in tournaments. We'll go step by step and see what they did in all six events, how they approached each lake, and how they caught their fish.
The northeast region's first tournament was held in January on Mar- tin Creek Lake. Mike and Allen don't pre-fish very much, and they did not do so at Martin Creek. In fact they didn't practice at all. They just showed up the morning of the tournament. They had both fished several events here in the past and had some favorite areas. Martin Creek was a tough event for everyone, but Mike caught a 5.65-pound big bass to go with two others for a total of 9.84 pounds, and a third place finish.
The next tournament was Palestine in February. They both consider Palestine their favorite lake to fish. Since there was a tournament on practice day they both fished it in different boats and used it as their "warm-up." Although they only ended up with four bass at 11 pounds, they finished second. They fished the Kickapoo area with jigs and lizards in about three feet of water flipping the bushes.
The March tournament was held on Lake Tyler. There is only one thing to do in March and that's flip the bushes with a jig. The results were eight keepers with the best five topping the scales at 14 pounds and a fourth place finish.
April brought Lake 'O The Pines, and high water - in fact over six feet high. At Lake 'O The Pines on Saturday there was another tournament, so again they used that as practice from separate boats. It worked. They had 30 keepers on Rat-L-Traps and a couple on jigs for over 18 pounds, and another second place finish.
Cooper was the tournament lake for May. The lake level was high and the water muddy. The fishing was tough on everybody and to make matters worse Mike had to fish this one by himself. With Cooper having a 14- to 18-inch slot, we allowed each team to bring in a maximum of three "picture fish" (in-the-slot fish). Mike caught one picture fish on a jig, about 16 inches long. He recalled that he was holding the fish with one hand, the camera with the other, when the fish flopped and came within a couple of inches of being over the side of the boat. He finally took the snapshot from the bottom of the boat and finished 12th.
The last tournament of the year was held on Cedar Creek the first part of June. With a 20-point lead for Angler of The Year, they pulled out all the stops with both Mike and Allen pre-fishing several days - two weeks prior. They found two areas holding fish and caught the limit the first 30 minutes on topwaters from a weed bed. Their second pattern was cranking boathouses during the sunny part of the day. Their limit weighed in at 12 pounds and placed them at 6th, which helped them secure the title.
This was the first year Mike and Allen fished with me on the northeast region and they are true sportsmen. When they show up at a tournament, you know you better bring your best game plan. They are sponsored by Triton Boat, Mercury Motors, and Rat-L-Trap.
Congratulations Mike Stroman and Allen Swarts Anglers of the Year northeast region of Honey Hole Top 40 Teams.
Good luck, and God Bless.
Bill Wilcox is sponsored by Ranger Boats, Yamaha Outboards, MCMC, BG Products, Pro Rule, Johnson Fiberglass, Brown's Automotive, Continental Batteries, Kistler Rods, Swamp Hog Lures, Strike King Lures, and Fun-n-Sun Sports Center.
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