Story by Ron Bush
Original Story at Times Free Press.
(June 4, 2015) — Hellas Construction, Inc., is known for creating surfaces throughout the sports world. But until this year that was entirely on land -- turf fields, tennis courts, tracks, etc.
Now the Austin, Texas, company is a force on the water as well, thanks to Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn.
Strader is the points leader on the Walmart FLW Tour, which comes to his home lake -- Chickamauga -- next week for the tour's fifth stop of 2015. The tournament will be based out of Dayton Boat Dock, which is operated by tour member Michael Neal and also is home to Andy Morgan, the tour's Angler of the Year the last two seasons. Morgan is ninth in points right now.
Hellas became Strader's primary sponsor this year based on the relationship between the professional angler and Reed Seaton, the company's owner and president, at the Hageman Reserve hunting and fishing getaway in northeastern Texas. Strader has been a guide there.
"We've got ducks and hogs and deer and bass. We've got it all," Strader said. "I've taken Mr. Seaton hunting several times. He's a super good guy."
Seaton surely would say Strader is a super good representative of his business, at least so far. He was first in the points standings after finishing third and 13th in the first two tournaments of the year, and he's stayed on top with 12th- and fourth-place finishes since. Two top-fives and two other top-15s in only four events is remarkable for the sport.
"I sure would like that to continue," said Strader, who also has major sponsorship from Don Ledford Auto Park of Athens, Tenn. "I've gotten lucky so far. Every tournament one or two fish either go your way or go against you, and this year I haven't had any go against me. They've all gone for me.
"I haven't done anything different than I've done in the past. It's just listening to my gut and instinct."
One might think Strader would be confident of adding to his points lead on Chickamauga, which he knows so well, but that fact has another aspect.
"I'm always worried when I come to my home lake," he admitted, and not because of any pressure to weigh in well before a crowd of friends and local residents, although he certainly would like to.
The problem is too much knowledge.
"I know so much to do on Chickamauga, and so many places to go," he said, "that when I'm not doing good, I'm tempted to go here and go there and keep looking for better spots. That can eat your whole day up.
"I like it sometimes when I go to a place where I know two or three spots to fish and I know just to focus on fishing and not be tempted to run all over the place."
Although a four-day pounds total in the high 60s won on Alabama's Lake Eufaula last week, Strader said he expects "the high 70s or low 80s" as the winning weight for next Thursday through Sunday.
"I don't think there will be a 30-pound stringer any day, but I think there will be one over 25," he added. "And you'll do good to average 20 a day. But if you do that, you'll put yourself in position to win."
Pro Greg Bohannan will be at Wal-Mart in Dunlap from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, signing autographs and sharing fishing tips.
High school state
Dayton Boat Dock will host the Tennessee state high school bass tournament Saturday, and organizers are expecting close to 150 two-person boats. There were 118 entered as of Wednesday afternoon, according to Rhea Economic and Tourism Council Executive Director Dennis Tumlin, and others can register until Friday at the Dayton Boat Dock & Grill.