CALIFORNIA ANGLERS CONTROL THE DELTA AT CITGO BASSMASTER WESTERN OPEN

BETHEL ISLAND, Calif. – The hometown boys made good Thursday during the first round of the CITGO Bassmaster Western Open presented by Busch Beer on the San Joaquin Delta. Rick Kendrick of Sacramento took the lead in the boater division with 20 pounds of bass, but Dee Thomas of Brentwood, Calif., and David Gliebe of Stockton, Calif., are in hot pursuit with catches of 18-12 and 17-10, respectively.

A field of 132 boaters and 132 non-boaters is competing for the chance to qualify for the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship presented by Busch Beer, which will send its top 5 boaters to bass fishing’s world championship, the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer. The top 20 anglers at the end of the three-event Western Open season will earn berths in the championship.

Kendrick was quietly pleased with his catch, although he bemoaned the Delta’s fickle conditions. Despite strong tidal action earlier this month that brought big fish to the fore, the tide is rising and falling by just a foot this week. Although Kendrick is focused on moving water rather than tidal patterns, he wasn’t counting on the “too inconsistent” Delta to produce a 20-pound bag.

“My main objective is to get over 10 pounds a day,” Kendrick said. “I’m fishing an area where I start out in the morning to get a limit and I go to a second pattern to get big ones.”

The second pattern paid off on Thursday: Kendrick’s big bag of fish was anchored by an 8-pound largemouth that was briefly the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament, only to be outdone by a 9-3 fish caught by Art Berry of Lakeside, Calif. The Big Bass is worth $1,000 each day, with an additional $1,000 awarded to the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament.

“I’ve been fishing here all my life,” Berry said while carrying the hulking, post-spawn largemouth to the BASS release boat. “I was just fishing an area that I know they live, flipping grass with a Zoom speed craw. It was lots of flips.”

Dee Thomas, who finds himself in second place, went home Thursday with severe back pain, but said he fully intends to outfish the 132-boater field.

“I will be there if I have to crawl,” he said.

The non-boater side of the competition is also tight. Day one leader James Ghiorso of Discovery Bay, Calif., brought in 14-3, with Australia’s Kim Bain nipping at his heels with 13-2. David Bryning of Paradise, Calif., 12-10; Sal Herrera of Byron, Calif., 12-9; and James Rios of Tracy, Calif., 11-2, rounding out the top five. Russell Stansbury of Santa Rosa, Calif., brought in the non-boaters’ Purolator Big Bass of the Day, earning $500 with a 6-7 lunker.

The 264-angler field will be cut to just the top 50 boaters and top 50 non-boaters after Friday’s round. Launch is at 5:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday at Russo’s Marina. Weigh-ins begin at 2:30 p.m.

The Bassmaster CastingKids program sponsored by CITGO will be held at Russo’s Marina, Saturday, May 29, from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Children between the ages of 7 and 14 can participate in the contest with the chance to earn a scholarship.

The second Western Open will be held Oct. 21-23 on Lake Shasta in Shasta Lake, Calif. and the Western Opens will conclude Nov. 18-20 on Clear Lake, near Lakeport, Calif.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail 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 Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.

Associate Sponsors include G3 Boats.

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

TOURNAMENT NOTES

FAMILY LINES There are two prominent parent-child teams competing at the Western Open this week, including Arkansas’ Lucy and Melinda Mize and California’s Carol and Aaron Martens. Lucy Mize, a boater, is in 113th with 5-6, while Melinda brought in 3-9 to rest in 86th place. Aaron Martens, a boater, outfished his mother, landing in 25th with12-6, while Carol is in 29th with 9-13.

Mize made light of her tough day on the weigh-in stage.

“I’ve been catching a lot of fish and I’ve been catching some good fish,” she said, referring to the three-day practice period. “They just turned into babies today.”

BAITING HIS FRIEND Dee Thomas, in second place going into Friday’s round, caught a limit by 8:15 Thursday morning, and gave all of the credit to a fellow boater in the tournament, Andre Moore, who is in 19th place with 13-1.

“I was swimming a new Andre Moore worm, a 10-inch worm,” Thomas said, adding that all three of the baits he used to produce Thursday’s 18-12 were Andre Moore creations, including a Boom Boom tube, a Beaver worm, and the 10-inch Big Unit worm in avocado. “I fished with him Monday and he had 20 pounds that day.”

SNIFF, SNIFF California’s Ish Monroe is suffering from a tough travel schedule.

Monroe, a pro on the CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer, qualified for the Bassmaster Elite 50 series and is scheduled to be in Alabama on Monday to practice for the third event of the series. On Thursday, Monroe landed in 46th place with a 10-3 catch. Monroe adopted a hangdog look for tournament emcee Robbie Floyd and confessed that it wasn’t his greatest hour.

“It’s been different, traveling back and forth,” he told the crowd gathered at Russo’s Marina for the weigh-in. “I’ve got a cold; I just want to let you know."