By David A. Brown

DEL RIO, Texas — Avoiding crowds and fishing the most unassuming spots they could find allowed Mike Perkins and Stan Gerzenyi to sack up the winning limit of 23.46 pounds at the season-opener of the 2021 Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s at Lake Amistad.

Gerzenyi, who makes his home in Del Rio, said he and his partner stayed in the mid-lake region and focused their efforts on shallow rocky banks in the backs of pockets with deep water close. Such areas offered a twofold opportunity — spawners and prespawn staging fish.

“We were just going down the bank looking for bed fish and then we’d see some fish deep on the graph, so we’d turn around a make a cast out deep,” Gerzenyi said. “We ended up catching them shallow and in deep water near the bed fish.

“The bites we got were quality bites; we weren’t catching a lot of little ones. For some reason, the bed fish and the deep ones were a better size. We got lucky.”

Hailing from Dallas, Perkins said he and Gerzenyi were on the lookout for bare spots on the bank or rocks, which clearly indicated a bed. Those on rocks were most visible, due to the strong contrast, but both scenarios produced.

The winners mixed up their presentations by rotating through Texas-rigged worms and craws and a 1/2-ounce jig with a craw worm trailer. The same set of baits worked in the shallow and deep areas.

“We spent our time in some prime spawning areas and just looked around until we’d see a fish move,” Perkins said. “We worked on a few fish like this. We’d throw shallow and then we’d stop and throw deep.

“Once we’d find the fish, we’d see the smaller ones swimming shallow and then when we’d turn around, that’s when more quality bites came. We were fortunate to boat all the big ones we (hooked).”

Essential to their game plan, Gerzenyi said, was fishing places where they didn’t have much company.

“We fished a lot of off-the-wall places where we didn’t see a lot of boats; just little forgotten areas,” he said. “We stayed away from the popular creeks where boats were probably stacked up and we rotated on about a half dozen little no-name spots.”

Gerzenyi said he and his partner caught fish all day long, filled their limit around 11 and made a few key upgrades later in the day. Visibility was the key to their shallow water success.

“When the sun was up, you could see a lot better midday,” Gerzenyi said. “The wind was light and you’d get a little breeze every now and then, but it was definitely better midday with that sun.”

Around noon, they caught the event’s Big Bass — a 7.52 — off a bed. As Perkins recalls, they caught a lucky break, because the water in this particular area was less than ideal for sight fishing.

“The fish are pretty spooky; they haven’t been up shallow too long, so you’d have to spot them and give them some distance,” Perkins said. “We got lucky with that big one. We saw it early and were able to slow down and never get too close to her — that’s the reason we caught it.

“That big fish came from a spot that we had fished earlier in the day and we thought it looked good, so we went back again. We hit some of our spots twice and some of them three times. We caught fish at every one of them, but the quality fish were scattered.”

Describing the thrill of victory, Perkins said: “Stan and I have been fishing together since 2002, but we just started fishing tournaments together a couple years ago. We feel like we were overdue for a win because we’ve had some tournaments where we hooked some really big fish that would have won for us and we just couldn’t keep them buttoned up.

“We said ‘In 2021 we’re gonna win one of these tournaments.’ Stan actually pointed to this one when he saw the tournament schedule and said ‘We’re gonna win a boat in that tournament.’ It was fun seeing it happen.”

For their efforts Perkins and Gerzenyi earned a a fully-rigged Nitro Z18 with a 150 Mercury outboard. In addition, they claimed $1,380 of Anglers Advantage cash and $825 for the Big Fish award.

Thompson-Thompson second

Local father-son team Danny Thompson and Dylan Thompson spent their day in the Box Canyon area and focused on grass edges, points and ditches leading into spawning flats. Sticking with the 6- to 12-foot zone, they caught a second-place limit of 16.52 pounds.

An early bed-fishing effort failed to produce, so the Thompsons devoted most of their time to picking off prespawners with a Megabass Magdraft swimbait and Texas-rigged Zoom Speed Worms.

Later in the day, when sunny conditions moved fish into the shady cover of grass clumps, the Thompsons relocated to the back of a pocket and upgraded an earlier limit. This move coincided with a wind increase.

“The first hour of the morning, we had a 5- to 10-mph wind and we caught them pretty good,” Dylan said. “Then we lost that wind about 9 o’clock and it was dead until about 2 o’clock. In that last hour, we got some wind and it seemed to pick the bite up for us.

“I made some key culls in the last hour by punching a craw with a 1-ounce weight. So that was definitely a big move for us.”

For second place, Dylan Thompson and Danny Thompson won $4,125

Brauer-Moore third

Denny Brauer and Shane Moore began their day looking for the shallow bite, but making a key decision to scrap an unsatisfactory pattern and move offshore enabled them to catch a limit of 16.42 and finish third.

“We fished the mid-lake area and started out fishing some pretty flat water back in the bays and caught a few keepers, but it seemed like the fish weren’t real aggressive,” Brauer explained. “We were getting a lot of fish nipping at baits, so after a couple of hours, we pulled the plug and went out deep.”

Brauer and Moore fished contour breaks in 12-18 feet and caught their fish on 1/2-ounce Strike King Tour Grade football jigs with Strike King Menace trailers and Carolina-rigged Strike King Rage Lizards. Grass-topped breaks with 60-100 feet of water close by defined the ideal spots.

For third place, Brauer and Moore won $3,487, which included $1,012 of Anglers Advantage cash.

Andreas-Hauck fourth, Dixon-Winter fifth

T.R. Andreas and Chuck Hauck weighed five bass worth 16.20 pounds, taking fourth place and earning $2,570. Behind them was Randy Dixon and Todd Winter with 16.01 pounds. For fifth place, they earned $2,065.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 teams at the 2017 Texas Team Trail event on       LAKE NAME:

6th: Charles Whited-Brendan Kennell – 15.99

7th: Will Imhoff—Shane London – 15.60

8th: Chris Sabina-Bob Sabina – 15.25

9th: Rick Scheen-Mike Harmon – 15-23

10th: Jim Criswall-John N. Criswall – 15.12