BUFFALO, N.Y. – An extremely breezy day meant tough conditions at the CITGO Bassmaster Northern Open

BUFFALO, N.Y. – An extremely breezy day meant tough conditions at the CITGO Bassmaster Northern Open presented by Busch Beer on Lake Erie Thursday.

New Yorker Gospare Costabille dug in his heels when the wind started to pick up and brought in an impressive limit to lead the first of three days of competition. Costabille’s 20-pound, 8-ounce catch was enough to top his closest competitor by just over a pound.

“We had some nasty weather today,” Costable said. “The key was just to slow down enough to make a decent presentation with a bait. The fish were really not aggressive enough to attack anything today.

“This is my home lake, but I’m fishing in an area I’ve never seen before. This lake is so big, though, it’s more like an ocean. I’m fishing rock shoals and I had all my fish in the livewell by noon. I caught a few more after that, but it was so rough that it was hard to stay on them. I couldn’t keep them pegged.

“I’ve got a couple of areas that are very similar that I can go to tomorrow. I’ll run as far as the weather lets me, but I’ll run as close as it will let me as well. I just want to be up near the top and stay consistent for the three days and let the chips fall where they may.”

The weather caused the day to end early for two anglers. After a wave crashed over the bow of New Yorker Dave Marion’s boat, his bilge pumps couldn’t keep up with the water, swamping his boat. Marion and his non-boater, Lutz Spika from Connecticut, both made it back safely and the Coast Guard was called to retrieve the sinking vessel.

“The wind was a little stronger than we had predicted,” said BASS Tournament Manager Chuck Harbin. “If the conditions are like this tomorrow, we may not let them go. We will be monitoring the weather tonight and, depending on the conditions tomorrow, we may decide to cancel day two.”

For Ohio’s Frank Scalish, the tough conditions were a minor factor in a day that saw him bring in a limit weighing 19 pounds, 4 ounces.

“It was brutal today,” Scalish said. “There were probably 7-foot waves out there and I’m fishing in the middle of the lake. I caught a limit early, too. I was culling fish at 8:30 this morning. … I think I can get another good one tomorrow if I can get back to that spot.”

New York’s Vincent Brock claimed the early lead on the non-boater side, bringing in 17-5. He leads Pennsylvania’s Guyowen Hall and Ontario’s Cindy Burnham, who are tied for second with 15 pounds, 11 ounces going into Friday’s round.

Costabille’s big catch included a 5-8 lunker that earned an extra $1,000 as the Purolator Big Bass of the Day. If it holds out to be the largest fish caught over the remaining two days of competition, it will earn him another $1,000 as the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament.

New York’s William Beekman followed suit on the non-boater side with a 5-6 bass, earning $400 for the Purolator Big Bass of the Day in that division.

The CITGO Bassmaster Northern Open presented by Busch Beer will continue Friday and Saturday from the Buffalo Harbor State Park & Marina. Weigh-ins will start daily at 2:30 p.m.

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 Open series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.

Local Sponsors include Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.