Second of Three Events Set for California’s Famed Big-Bass Fishery

CELEBRATION, Fla. — When veteran California pro Ish Monroe talks about the famed Clear Lake these days, he uses words like “awesome,” “incredible” and “insane.”

It is easy to get worked up about Clear Lake, site of the upcoming CITGO Bassmaster Western Open, Oct. 13-15. Not only is it one of the West’s most renowned bass fisheries, but it also is enjoying one of its finest fishing years. The largest natural lake entirely within the borders of California, Clear Lake is home to an impressive combination of quality and quantity. The 43,000-acre northern body of water has long ranked as one of the nation’s premier bass fisheries and for some reason, the bass have been more cooperative than ever in 2005.

“The fishing in the tournament should be awesome with lots of limits caught,” said Monroe, who was watching the weigh-in of a local tournament as he spoke. “There should be a lot of 15- to 18-pound bags.

“The fishing has been insane. They’ve been biting insanely since February and it really has not stopped. The last time I went out, I had one day I caught over 35 pounds and another day I had 25.”

Unlike most bass waters, Clear Lake evidently is not suffering through the normal doldrums commonly associated with the annual fall migration. “There’s just so many fish in this lake that I don’t think there’s really a migration,” Monroe said. “They’re just there and they’re biting.”

Monroe believes pros and non-boaters will catch abundant largemouth in a variety of ways come tournament time.

“Guys will catch them deep and guys will catch them shallow,” he said. “I think the jig bite on the rockpiles will probably be the biggest bite. There will be a lot of guys throwing a drop shot and worms and stuff. But usually a jig catches the better fish anyway.”

Monroe predicts the winning weight will be about 55 pounds, based on a five-fish limit.

“You’ll see some guys come in with a couple of 20-pound bags, but there are so many 2- and 3-pounders biting right now, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of 4s and 5s caught,” he said.

Zachary Thompson of Orinda, Calif., won the last CITGO Bassmaster Western Open tournament on Clear Lake, held last November. His total weight of 48 pounds, 14 ounces came on a 3/4-ounce jigging spoon. Included was a 9-pound, 6-ounce trophy bass.

This tournament, the second of three Western Open events, will feature about 200 pros and their amateur partners competing for nearly $225,000 in cash and merchandise in an elimination-format tournament. Through the Western Open points standings, 15 pros will advance to the CITGO Bassmaster Open championship, Dec. 1-4 in Prattville, Ala., which will send its top five finishers to the 2006 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla. on Feb. 24-26, 2006.

The last Western Open will be held Nov. 17-19 on Lake Shasta in Shasta Lake, Calif.

Daily weigh-ins will take place at Konocti Vista Resort & Marina, 2755 Mission Rancheria Road, Lakeport, Calif.

Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Open Series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops and Cialis (tadalafil).

Local sponsors include the Konocti Vista Casino Resort and Marina.

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

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