Albidrez Wins Title, California Top Team

California's John Albidrez slammed a double victory at the TBF Western Divisional. He whacked a bag of 13.09 at Idaho's Lake Lowell to win the overall individual title and the California individual title. He ended the tournament with a 39.03 total and he's on his way to the TBF National Championship.

Samuel Russell from the Wyoming team bagged 10.08 today and finished 2nd overall with 37.06 after he led on day 2. Bubba O'Neil of Wyoming was 3rd with 36.08, Randy Pierson of California finished 4th with 35.13 and Ryan Krost of California ended in 5th with 35.06.

The rest of the Top 10 looked like this:

6. Charlie Crawford (AZ): 35.02 7. Neil Russell (ID): 34.04 8. Richard Vizcarra (AZ): 34.01 9. Aaron Echternkamp (WA): 33.15 10. Dan Jordan (OR): 33.11

California held on to win the team title with 367.15 pounds. Wyoming finished 2nd with 352.00.

The top boater and non-boater from each state advance to the TBF National Championship.

Ryan Krost of California and Phil Strader of Oregon were the highest-finishing Skeeter BassFan Army members and earned berths in the Skeeter BassFan Army Weekend Warrior Championship.

Albidrez Back On Top

Albidrez, the leader after day 1, slipped to 2nd yesterday, but he went back to some fish he'd saved today. He anchored his bag with a 3.02-pounder.

"I had an area I found in practice I didn't go to until today," he said. "I had the area to myself for a few hours. That's where I caught my fish."

He stuck with the same bait throughout the tournament – a pumpkin Zoom Brush Hog.

"I fished the mats and caught them on the dark spots," he said. "I caught all my fish on pumpkin Brush Hogs, but I found them in practice throwing a buzzbait."

At the start of the day, he thought he had a shot to win, but he tried not to focus on the overall title.

"I didn't even think about it," he said. "I told myself I would just go out and fish and let it happen."

Russell Sweats To 2nd

Russell, a Salt Lake City resident fishing for the Wyoming team, squeezed all of his fishing into a few minutes this afternoon.

"I had a slow start," he said. "I only had one fish in the boat at 12:00. I was just catching little guys – then they moved up and I had my limit in the boat in about 10 minutes.

"When it came to 12:00, I was sweating bullets, but I took a chance and went back to my hole. The fish started cruising and some were spawning and by Jove, I was right."

He sight-fished throughout the tournament and today he caught his fish on a watermelon Yum CrawBug.

"I was throwing at cruising bass and they were turning and hitting it," he said. "I saw every fish I caught."

The fish had turned on for Russell around 11:00 the first two days of the tournament, but the action started later today.

"They decided to sleep in a couple of hours today," he said. "If I had had a little more time I think I could have won it."

Idaho Champ

Neil Russell, a hometown angler at Lowell, had an off day, but clinched the Idaho title with a 10.09 bag. He was 8th in the overall standings after day 2, and finished 7th.

"Today was my worst day, but it was good enough," he said. "I didn't have a fish over 2 1/2 pounds."

Two baits worked best for him today, but one kept him in the running.

"I fished a (Zoom) Horny Toad and a (3:16 Lures) Mission (Fish) swimbait," he said. "The swimbait saved me today – it did everything."

Another key today was his ability to find clear water near the inside weeds and around the spawning beds.

"I fished five areas today, but all my better fish came in one area where the water was a little clearer," he said. "When the water was clearer, they were more likely to come out and grab that swimbait."

"The guys behind me had some weight to make up, but I didn't know if they made it up," he added. "I was in the first flight at the weigh-in and I was sweating it."

Teenager Wins Montana

Justin Hoback, an 18-year-old, won the Montana title with a 28.12 total, but he never expected to be a champion. In the overall standings, he started the day in 39th and finished 45th overall.

"I didn't think I could win it," he said. "I just came to have a good time and see what I could do."

He caught most of his fish sight-fishing with a swimming jig. The pattern was best in the afternoon.

"We were fishing the weeds in 2 to 3 feet of clear water," he said. "I was also fishing some reeds in about 2 1/2 feet of water. The bigger ones we caught today – we saw them before we caught them."

Although he entered the tournament not thinking about a victory, he was thinking about 1st at the end of today.

"When I came in, I was pretty sure I had it secured."

California Teamwork

California led the team standings throughout the tournament and came away with its fourth team title.

"I think cooperation among the team was the biggest thing," said team captain Archie Steele. "The biggest thing with the team competition is you get people that show up just for themselves, but these guys showed up as a team. We kicked the Western states' butts."

California team members shared information during the tournament and helped any angler that was having problems.

"I told the guys from day 1, if you're struggling, come to us and we'll help you," he said. "It's all communication and working together."

One reason the California team ran away with the title was their familiarity with lakes like Lowell.

"This water is similar to the water the California guys fish all the time," he said. "It's all flippin' to the fish."

BassFan Angler

After a rough day with just 4.08 pounds yesterday, BassFan's Troy Corum, a non-boater from Oregon, rebounded to lead his state today and finished 65th overall.

"I did much better," he said. "I had the heavy sack for our state with 11.80."

The difference was clear water, which he couldn't find yesterday, and some hot baits. In all, he landed 15 fish.

"I was throwing a Horny Toad and buzzbaits, sinking it and slow-rolling over the grass," he said. "We keyed in on one area. I got my limit by 10:30 and culled up all day."

Another key was to be more patient, and it seemed to work.

"I really had to slow down, be confident in my pattern and keep working it, and not get antsy and force-feed the fish.

"It was awesome," he added. "I had a great time. TBF did a great job running it and made you feel right at home. It makes me want to get out and qualify for more. Hopefully I'll make the team next year."


> Of the 90 anglers, 74 caught a limit.

> Anglers from six different states finished in the Top 10.

Day 1 Team Standings

1. California -- 126.1 -- 128.09 -- 112.12 -- 367.15
2. Wyoming -- 116.04 -- 122.1 -- 113.02 -- 352
3. Washington -- 126.09 -- 116 -- 108.15 -- 351.08
4. Arizona -- 114.03 -- 120.01 -- 109.11 -- 343.15
5. Idaho -- 121.12 -- 117.05 -- 96.13 -- 335.14
6. Oregon -- 125.04 -- 108.03 -- 101.01 -- 334.08
7. Utah -- 101.08 -- 111.09 -- 92.13 -- 305.14
9. Montana -- 37.03 -- 52.03 -- 47.03 -- 136.09

Skeeter BassFan Army Weekend Warrior Championship Qualifiers

Ryan Krost (CA)
Phil Strader (OR)