Houchin leads FLW Costa Event with 19.12 pound limit
March 30, 2017 by Marshall Ford
Only 6 ounces separate first and third place after the first round of the Costa FLW Series Central Division opener presented by T-H Marine at Lake Dardanelle, and Quincy Houchin of Mabelvale, Ark., leads that group after catching five bass that weighed 19 pounds, 12 ounces.
Brandon Lee of Ratcliff, Ark., trails Houchin by 3 ounces (19-9), and Michael Stetich of Arkeny, Iowa, trails by 6 ounces (19-6). Weights tailed off gradually all the way down the board, with only 3-1 separating a tied ninth and 10th places from first.
While Houchin was guarded about specifics, he says the key to his success was finding a spot that he could have to himself. It was in the mid-river section that was protected somewhat from a relentless wind that chilled 406 competitors to the bone Thursday.
“I don’t think anybody else has found it, and I think that’s the deal,” Houchin says.
Fortunately, Houchin got all of his tough fishing out of the way during practice. He says he got a few bites on a frog during practice, but that went cold in short order.
On Thursday, however, the fish turned on, and Houchin caught them flippin’ a jig.
“I fished a little bit slower than my normal,” Houchin says. “I’m known for running and gunning, but I had to slow down and pick my water apart.”
The water Houchin fished was very dirty, as it is in most of the lake right now. The bites were subtle, so each cast required undivided attention.
“They [the bites] were soft,” Houchin says. “I never knew they were there.”
He says his pattern should continue to produce Friday, but not as well as it did Thursday.
“It’s definitely going to change with the weather, but the way I’m fishing I should definitely catch some, but probably not 20 pounds. I just hope I get some wind.”
SHELTON LEADS CO-ANGLERS
Mark Shelton of Fayetteville, Ark., leads the co-angler division by having caught five fish that weighed 18-6, giving him a 3-13 cushion over Alan Hults (14-9) of Gautier, Miss.
Shelton’s pro, Brent Greek, fished fast, so Shelton fished slow by flippin’ a tube to offshore structure. Bites were sparse for both anglers, Shelton says, and he caught his last fish in the final 16 minutes. His 6-12 anchor is also the heaviest fish of the tournament so far.
Like pro leader Houchin, Shelton says the bites were subtle.
“All the fish I caught basically swam off with it,” Shelton says. “I never felt them bite, even the [nearly] 7-pounder.”
Shelton and Greek fished in the Strip Pits, which is renowned for big largemouths. The water there was heavily stained, but it was not muddy. Surprisingly, it wasn’t crowded – just 15 to 20 boats.
The fish were not on the banks in that area, Shelton says, but he thinks they probably will be Friday if the sun comes out, as forecast.