Anglers Say Change in Weather Makes for Tougher Competition

What’s at stake: $490,745 in total prize money, plus five berths into the CITGO Bassmaster Classic on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla., Feb.24-26, 2006.

Telecast: Saturday, Feb. 11, 2006, on ESPN2 at 10 a.m. EST

The Pros Said It
“The conditions couldn’t have gotten any worse for me. It was warm and cloudy and now it’s colder and tougher. I’m going to try and win by staying consistent and looking for five decent fish.” – John Murray, who won the 2003 Open Championship and is looking for a Classic berth, 41, Phoenix, Ariz.

“It’s really tough. If you listen to the dock talk, it’s going to be a tough tournament. For a river system to be good at this time of year, it’s got to be clear with a current and the current is just too slow right now. I’m going to keep my head down and fish hard.” – Stephen Browning, a 2006 Elite Series angler who qualified through for the championship from the CITGO Bassmaster Southern Opens, 39, Hot Springs, Ark.

“I’ve had three good days of fishing and the weather and water suit my style. With these fish, I’m going to make them eat my bait instead of trying to feed them.” – Mark Menendez, who fought a life-threatening case of viral meningitis but came back to win the first CITGO Bassmaster Southern Open event in 2005, 41, Paducah, Ky.

“I believe anglers will fish two patterns: Up the river, looking for spotted bass in clearer water; and a lower pattern going into creeks looking for largemouth. I need this for the Classic, so for me, it’s all or nothing.” – Brett Hite, who qualified through the CITGO Bassmaster Western Opens, 27, Phoenix, Ariz.

The Strategy
Murray: The 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series angler is going deep for big, spotted bass in the main current of the river.

Browning: He’s practiced on both the main river as well as the backwater and for the tournament, will throw a variety of baits including spinnerbaits and crankbaits in water 8 feet deep or less.

Menendez: He’s covering a lot of water and moving fast, looking for active fish. The 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series angler will throw crankbaits in search of the “meanest spotted bass in the world.”

Hite: Like the others, he’s throwing crankbaits, and quickly flipping and pitching. He’ll also use a few finesse-style baits in water 10 feet deep or less.

Location and Field
CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship
Alabama River
Prattville, Ala.
Dec. 1-4, 2005

90 boaters, 90 non-boaters
Cut to top 10 after Day 2
Cut to top 5 after Day 3

1844 Cooters Pond Road
Prattville, Ala. 36066
6:15 a.m.

1844 Cooters Pond Road
Prattville, Ala. 36066
2:30 p.m.

Previous BASS events
2004, CITGO Bassmaster Elite 50
2003, Alabama Showdown
1982, CITGO Bassmaster Classic
1981, CITGO Bassmaster Classic

Previous winners on lake
43-10, Mark Davis, 2004
29-09, Kenyon Hill, 2003
32-08, Paul Elias, 1982
35-02, Stanley Mitchell, 1981

Heaviest winning sack
43-10, Mark Davis, 2004

Lowest winning sack
29-09, Kenyon Hill, 2003

65 degrees

Lake level
39.79 feet above mean sea level

Local sponsors: Local sponsors include the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce.

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

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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