Big Bass, Big Catches Expected at Famed California Fishery

CLEARLAKE, Calif., Oct. 14 — The top western pros that ply their trade on the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail have come to love Clear Lake in the springtime when the famed fishery surrenders almost unbelievable numbers of trophy-class bass.

The $300,000 California CITGO Bassmaster Western Open Oct. 23-25 might not equal the big-bass slugfests of past BASS events, but the experts predict impressive fishing results just the same.

"It will be real good. That lake has just been amazing," Nevada pro Byron Velvick said. "There have been 40- and 50-pound bags (in tournaments there) the last couple of months. The fishing has been just huge. It's going to be a big tournament. There will be a lot of weight again. It always is.

"That lake is just full of big fish. I've got some friends that have been catching 7s, 8s, and 9s. One of my friends caught a 10 yesterday on a frog. I'm getting reports from all of my friends that they're just stroking them."

The name Byron Velvick might ring a bell. It's the same guy that set the BASS record for a three-day, five-bass catch with 83 pounds 5 ounces in April of 2000 (a mark later destroyed during Dean Rojas' record assault on Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga). California pro Skeet Reese caught a whopping 72-plus-pounds and finished second.

The largest natural lake entirely within the borders of California, Clear is home to an impressive combination of quality and quantity. The 43,000-acre northern California lake has long ranked as one of the West's premier bass fisheries.

Located about 100 miles north of San Francisco, Clear Lake will be hosting the second of three Opens this fall. At stake is a $50,000 top prize and valuable points to the inaugural CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship in December and more importantly, a possible bid to Lake Wylie for the coveted CITGO Bassmaster Classic next summer.

"It will be different (from past springtime tournaments) because a swimbait doesn't play into the program as much," Velvick added. "It's still going to be a big weight tournament, but it won't be a springtime sight fishing and swimbait tournament. It will be more shad patterns.

"It will be a fall pattern. It will be primarily Rat-l-Traps, crankbaits, and jigs. A lot of structure fishing on rockpiles."

Velvick was asked to predict the winning weight.

"That's such a wildcard deal," he replied. "For three days, I think it will take between 60 and 70 pounds. It will take 20 pounds or better a day to win. They just had a tournament two weeks ago, and it took 10 fish weighing 50- something to win that. My friends had 10 fish for 46 or 47 pounds and finished seventh or eighth.

"The fishing is just ridiculous."

Daily weigh-ins take place at Redbud Park at 3:30 p.m. Anglers launch beginning at 7:15 a.m.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. In 2004, BASS will introduce the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 Series, a four-event, no-entry-fee circuit featuring a $1.6 million prize purse for the world's best anglers. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer 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, Chevrolet Trucks, Yamaha Outboards, Mercury Marine, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Kumho Tires, Progressive Insurance, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Diamond Cut Jeans, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, and BankOne.

Associate Sponsors include Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning and G3 Boats.

Local sponsors include Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

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