CITGO Bassmaster Western Open Winner: "I Was About Due"
SHASTA LAKE, Calif. - He was a wrestler in college, a fire captain these days, but Greg Gutierrez of Red Bluff can fish a lick, too.
Gutierrez held off fellow local angler Russ Meyer yesterday at Lake Shasta to win the CITGO Bassmaster Western Open.
"I've had a lot of seconds at this lake and in a lot of tournaments," Gutierrez said. "I just felt I was about due to get a big win."
Was it his biggest win ever as a pro?
"Yes," Gutierrez said.
It was a huge win for the California Department of Forestry fire captain from nearby Red Bluff on a day that started with sheets of rain and then went to partly cloudy with bright sunshine by weigh-in. Spotted bass bit, but the largemouths in this lake that grow to over 15 pounds were mostly missing in action for the three-day tournament.
Gutierrez weighed in five bass on the final day totaling 10 pounds, 6 ounces. It gave him a three-day total of 32-14, edging second-place finisher Russ Meyer by 13 ounces. Meyer, a Redding real estate agent who was fishing his first tournament in five years, weighed in a three-day total of 32 pounds, 1 ounce.
Gutierrez earned $10,800 and a $35,000 fully-equipped Triton bass boat. Meyer took home $3,600 and a fully-rigged Triton boat. The anglers are also fishing to move up in the season point standings. After the Western Open series' final event on Clear Lake, the top 15 boaters will earn berths in the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Tour. The top 20 boaters and non-boaters will qualify for the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship.
Gutierrez said he mostly threw 7-inch darthead plastic worms with spade tails and an occasional brown football-head, 3/4-ounce jig with a modified skirt for speed.
"I swam the jig as fast as I could and fished shallow points," Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez, 42, felt extra proud to beat Meyer.
"That guy is so hard to beat on this lake," Gutierrez said. "When I first started as a pro (12 years ago) I learned a lot from Russ."
CITGO Bassmaster Tour pro Bink Desaro, who will compete this week in the Busch Shootout at an undetermined lake, climbed to third with a three-day total of 30 pounds, 5 ounces.
"I'm getting hot at the right time, and now I get to go fish for one day for $100,000," said Desaro of Boise, Idaho.
On the non-boater side, Izz Byrd, 36, of San Jose crushed the field with a three-day total of 26 pounds, 9 ounces. Shunichi Maruyama of Japan was second with 23 pounds, 14 ounces. Byrd, who restores vintage Volkswagon buses circa 1950-67 and produces parts for the "old hippie buses," won a $24,000 boat.
Byrd, an ex-pro skateboarder and surfer who covers his dreadlocks with a ski cap, spent all three days casting 5-inch Senkos in four different colors that he rigs a special way. The "Izzy rig" includes a nail weight that he puts vertically in the nose of the Senko, pinned to a No. 2 Owner hook. Byrd said he casts it and then "shakes the heck out of it."
"I had fish hit it off the bank and in 30 feet of water," Byrd said.
Byrd said he plans to turn pro next year and fish as a boater.
Jim Riley of Shasta Lake caught the Purolator Big Bass of the Day, a 4-15, to earn $1,000 in the boater division. He caught the big spotted bass on the second cast of the morning after spotting it chasing bait. He pitched a pearl-colored Zara Spook at it and nailed it.
Robert Cantrell of Alameda, Calif., won $400 for a 4-2 bass, the big bass on the non-boater side. He also used a Zara Spook for his big spotted bass.
Darrel Startin of Spokane, Wash., won $1,000 for the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament, a 5-4 that fetched him $400 for the big bass in the non-boater ranks on Day Two.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer, which includes the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Northern Open include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Toyota, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, and Bass Pro Shops.
Local Sponsors include Shasta Lake Chamber of Commerce and Phil's Propellers.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com
Source: bassmaster.com (2004-10-23)