They’ve won before in San Diego, together, with other partners, and each had success in pro level tournaments outside the county. So the fact that they won a local team tournament was no surprise. What was astonishing was their total winning weight; 37.31 pounds for 5 fish.
That total is impressive enough, in fact that’s the second heaviest limit weighed in San Diego that I can recall (John Kerr had 38.57 pounds at an Otay tournament in March of 2007). But take the lake into account, El Capitan, and the fact that their big fish weighed only 7.88 pounds and you have something that has never been done before. Not even close.
Had they arrived at that total with a giant bass, say like a 12 or 13 pounder, it’d be almost less of an achievement. But their average weight of 7.462 pounds per fish along with their 7.88 pounder they weighed as the big fish means their 5 bass were essentially clones. Giant clones. When they were told to weigh a big fish, they could just close their eyes, reach into the bag and pull one out, any one. And from all accounts, that’s basically what they did.
And at about 1 PM, they did something that as a former tournament angler, I would have never dreamed of doing – they culled out a 7 pounder. Jon, a veteran of the team circuit in San Diego, and who won over $160,000 in FLW pro tournaments, knew that moment was special. So special, that he made Wade pose for a picture with the bass before he tossed it back into the lake. “You may never do this again,” he told his 23 year old son.
“Practice for me was good, we won two weeks before (at the San Diego Team Series event), so I didn’t want to beat up my fish practicing for this tournament,” Wade said. “But I felt that we could have caught them better in that tournament, so we practiced the Saturday before this, and on my first cast I caught one over 10 pounds and on the next cast one about 7. We immediately left that area, and hoped for the best come tournament time.”
“On tournament day we drew last (the last boat to be released), but we were surprised to find not a single boat anywhere close to where we wanted to fish. My second cast resulted in a 7 pounder, and then every cast after was a fish in the 3 pound range. Every half hour or so a big one would move up to feed and we would get a big bite,” Wade recalled.
Unlike a lot of the big bags El Cap has kicked out in the last few years, swimbaits weren’t involved with this one. In fact, Wade didn’t credit any particular bait for their success. It was rather a matter of focusing in on the perfect spot. “I don’t think there was any key bait, I caught a few on a jig, big worm, underspin, and a crankbait. The key was finding the spot on the spot.”
“We culled maybe 5 times, our last cull came in the main lake at about 1 PM, the 7 pounder.”
In second place, with a very respectable, if not fantastic 5-fish limit totaling 19.8 pounds was Marco Fenelli and Jim Hallauer. In any other tournament, that’d be a weight worth bragging about at El Capitan. But on April 5th, they lost by almost 20 pounds. In a one day tournament. Their big fish, the second biggest of the tournament (not weighed by the Strelics), was over a pound smaller than the one that Wade culled out at 1 PM.
El Capitan used to be so stingy with big bass that John Kerr, who arguably is the best angler to ever compete in San Diego team tournaments told me 10 or so years ago that he didn’t think he had ever caught a bass over 4 pounds there. John had won dozens of tournaments in town, countless “angler of the year” titles, and earned the reputaion as one of the world’s best big bass anglers. He could probably catch a 10 pounder out of your bath tub. But he had never caught a 4 pound or bigger bass out of El Cap.
But gone are the days of El Cap and stunted bass. The period of relatively stable high water (now over), the product of San Vicente being lowered for the dam raise project, and the introduction of consistent rainbow trout stockings in the winter have allowed El Capitan’s bass population to flourish, turning out bass over 8 pounds at a relatively regular interval. But still, what the Strelics did on April 5th had never been approached before, and now with the water level plummeting again at El Capitan, may not be flirted with again in our lifetime.
Check out the gallery of the Strelic’s fish below, and a video of the weigh in courtesy of sdfish.com approved fishing guide Joe Marshall.