Famed Alabama Lake Expected To Be Generous to Nation's Pros

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. - America's top tournament anglers are always excited about returning to Alabama's Lake Guntersville where they know the shallow grassbeds harbor one of the best largemouth fisheries anywhere.

But as the Alabama CITGO Bassmaster Tour event presented by Busch Beer approaches, their enthusiasm is almost overwhelming.

"I am truly looking forward to the Guntersville tournament," said veteran Alabama pro Randy Howell. "There are going to be record catches there, and I cannot wait."

The last time the BASS train pulled into the 69,100-acre Tennessee River impoundment, Texan Kelly Jordon was the big winner with 81 pounds, 11 ounces. But Howell believes that Kelly's 2002 catch will be dwarfed by the 2004 winner's weight.

"I don't think I'm going out on a limb in predicting that the winner will have a lot more than Kelly did," he said. "Guntersville is probably the best lake in the country right now."

Howell, who lives about an hour from the lake, took three trips to Guntersville before it was placed off limits to tournament competitors.

"All three trips were awesome," he said. "The last time I went, I fished from the dam all the way up the lake, and I caught good fish everywhere I went. I'm talking about good fish. Of the 21 fish we caught, 15 of them were 3 to 6 pounds.

"There are so many 3- to 6-pound fish in this lake it's amazing."

Local tournaments held throughout the fall and winter also offered evidence of Guntersville's resurgence in the past few years. Howell said it routinely takes five bass weighing 23 to 28 pounds to win those one-day contests. A recent tournament was won with 34 pounds, despite water temperatures that dipped to 41 degrees.

"The only thing that could make our tournament less than awesome would be a lot of rain right before the tournament that would make the Tennessee River carry a lot of high, muddy water through Guntersville," Howell said. "That would make it tougher.

"Worst case scenario, I predict it would take 78 pounds to win. Best case scenario, it could take 100 pounds."

Howell expects that fishing shallow-running crankbaits and lipless crankers in grass to be the productive pattern.

Daily weigh-ins take place at Lake Guntersville State Park at 2:45 p.m. Anglers launch beginning at 6 a.m.

THE CITGO BASSMASTERS ON ESPN2 Fans can catch the third event of the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail on Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Ala., Saturday, March 6 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT on ESPN2.

NEXT STOP The CITGO Bassmater Tour travels to Table Rock Lake in Kimberling City, Mo., for the fourth event of the 2004 season, March 4-7.

CITGO BASSMASTER ANGLER OF THE YEAR Pros will be competing for CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year points throughout the 2003 season. Anglers are awarded points based on their finishes in each of the six Tour events. The tournament winner receives 300 points. The scoring decreases in 5-point increments to fifth place, 4-point increments through 10th place, 3-point increments through 15th place, 2-point increments to 99th place and 1-point increments for the remainder of the field.

ANGLER OF THE YEAR POINTS 1 Scott Suggs Ark. 521
2 Chris Baumgardner N.C. 495
3 Kelly Jordon Texas 482
4 Marty Stone N.C. 476
5 Edwin Evers Okla. 466
6 Gerald Swindle Ala. 437
6 Kevin Short Ark. 437
8 Mark Kile Ariz. 436
9 Tim Horton Ala. 428
10 Jason Quinn S.C. 420
11 Brian Snowden Mo. 412
12 Tommy Martin Texas 409
13 Bernie Schultz Fla. 408
13 Skeet Reese Calif. 408
15 Randy Blaukat Mo. 406
16 Davy Hite S.C. 402
17 Kotaro Kiriyama Ala. 400
18 Peter E Thliveros Fla. 398
18 Tom Biffle Okla. 398
20 Ishama Monroe Calif. 394
21 Mike Reynolds Calif. 392
21 Lee Bailey Conn. 392
23 Takahiro Omori Texas 391
24 Brooks Rogers Texas 386
24 Chad Brauer Mo. 386
26 Gary Klein Texas 380
26 Jay Yelas Texas 380
28 Brent Chapman Kan. 379
29 Dean Rojas Texas 378
30 Bud Pruitt Texas 375
31 O T Fears III Okla. 374
32 Aaron Martens Calif. 372
33 Michael Iaconelli N.J. 371
34 Dustin Wilks N.C. 364
35 Larry Nixon Ark. 354
36 Jimmy D Mize Ark. 348
37 Rick Morris Va. 342
38 Scott Rook Ark. 341
39 Charlie Weyer Calif. 339
40 Greg Hackney La. 337
41 Mark Tucker Mo. 332
42 Luke Clausen Wash. 330
43 Alton Jones Texas 323
44 Kevin Wirth Ky. 322
45 David Walker Tenn. 320
45 Jack L Wade Tenn. 320
47 Matt Reed Texas 318
48 Steve Daniel Fla. 316
49 Brett Hite Ariz. 312
50 Tim Loper Miss. 308

New for 2004, Purolator, the official oil filter and air filter of BASS, is instituting an incentive to the angler who catches the heaviest fish each day. Pros catching the largest fish will receive a $1,000 bonus while the amateurs can look for a $500 reward per tournament day. An additional $1,000 will be awarded to the angler (pro or amateur) who catches the largest fish of each tournament.

Day 1 Alton Jones 10-13
Day 2 Mark Rizk 10-03
Day 3 Bud Pruitt 6-03
Day 4 Tommy Martin 6-00

Day 1 Robert Hamilton Jr 5-03
Day 2 Mark Tucker 6-11
Day 3 Ben Matsubu 5-08
Day 4 Charlie Weyer 3-12

Alton Jones 10-13 Harris Chain of Lakes
Mark Tucker 6-11 Smith Lake

Another new program for 2004 is the $200,000 Busch Shootout contingency program. Qualifying Tour pros will receive a $1,000 bonus for the largest sack brought in during each tournament day.

The top 10 "Busch Heavy Weights" from the Tour and Elite 50 events will be joined by anglers with the top weights from the 2004 Classic, the 2004 Federation Championship and the 2003 Open Championship to compete in the single-day Busch Shootout tournament, Sept. 18, on a mystery lake. The winner will receive $100,000, with everyone else taking home a $5,000 check.

Arizona's John Murray was the first to qualify for the Busch Shootout tournament by having the heaviest sack at the 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship on Toledo Bend Reservoir last November. Murray's Day 3 catch of 21 pounds qualified him for the tournament.

1 David Wharton 26-7
2 Jason Quinn 24-14
3 Greg Hackney 16-0
4 Marty Stone 15-13
5 Scott Suggs 13-12
6 Bud Pruitt 13-10
7 Edwin Evers 8-5
8 Charlie Weyer 8-0

Newcomers to the Tour this season have the opportunity to earn not only a $10,000 bonus, but also the title of Rookie of the Year. Mark Kile was the top newcomer in 2003, with a 12th place finish based on Angler of the Year point standings at the end of the 2003 Tour season.

1 Scott Suggs 521
2 Kevin Short 437
3 Greg Hackney 337
4 Jason Reyes 262
4 Mark Shepard 262
6 R J Bennett 260
7 Bink Desaro 224
8 Jimmy Mason 213
9 Marcel Veenstra 208
10 Scott A Nielsen 189
11 Jordan Paullo 181
12 Thomas O'Bryant 111

At the conclusion of the 2003 season, Takahiro Omori was awarded the Horizon Award for the angler who posts the greatest improvement over the 2002 season. Omori finished 40th in 2003, a 98-place improvement from the previous year. The award, which will be given out again in 2004, includes a check for $25,000.


After Jasper, AL 2003 Finish Current Standings
1 Davy Hite 163 16
2 Aaron Martens 147 32
3 Tommy Martin 117 12
4 Lee Bailey 122 21
5 Mark Tucker 138 41
6 Jason Quinn 103 10
7 Scott Rook 129 38
8 Larry Nixon 120 35
9 Chuck Economou 159 77
10 Bernie Schultz 94 13
11 Art Ferguson III 165 85
12 Steve Sennikoff 173 94
13 Tom Biffle 93 18
14 Marty Stone 78 4
15 John Crews 157 84
16 Brooks Rogers 96 24
17 Michael Iaconelli 102 33
18 Rick Clunn 119 51
19 Chad Brauer 92 24
20 Kotaro Kiriyama 84 17

The top 25 anglers in point standings from the CITGO Bassmaster Tour will earn a berth in the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer, however, there are 12 anglers who have already qualified for the 2004 Classic through the CITGO Bassmaster Open divisions. These 12 include:

CITGO Bassmaster Open - Southern Division
Tim Horton
David Walker
Denny Brauer

CITGO Bassmaster Open - Central Division
Edwin Evers
Tim Carroll
Steve Sennikoff

CITGO Bassmaster Open - Northern Division
Art Ferguson III
Kevin Wirth
Chuck Economou

CITGO Bassmaster Open - Western Division
Bink Desaro
John Murray
Skeet Reese

New for 2004, BASS introduces the $1.6 million, no-entry-fee Bassmaster Elite 50 series. Fifty anglers, comprised of the top 20 active anglers on the BASS All-Time Money List, the top 27 in cumulative points from the 2002, 2003 and 2004 Tour seasons, and the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year, the 2004 BASS Rookie of the Year and the 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion, will compete in the four-event series with the winner taking home a $100,000 check.

Currently 2003 Classic champ Michael Iaconelli is the only angler with a guaranteed spot. Anglers are sure to be jockeying for position in the points and money during the 2004 Tour season with hopes of gaining entry into the series.

If the Elite 50 were to start today, these are the anglers who would be in.

1 Denny Brauer $1,715,664.21
2 Rick Clunn $1,532,419.53
3 Larry Nixon $1,527,133.58
4 Jay Yelas $1,248,432.00
5 Shaw E Grigsby, Jr $1,210,555.23
6 Kevin VanDam $1,175,683.33
7 Gary Klein $1,159,568.97
8 Ron Shuffield $969,996.00
9 Roland Martin $967,142.16
10 George Cochran $864,501.45
11 Davy Hite $842,800.00
12 Mark Davis $842,771.30
13 David Fritts $824,805.00
14 Zell Rowland $768,190.90
15 Tom Biffle $740,978.80
16 Jim Bitter $727,018.60
17 David Wharton $705,030.80
18 Randy Blaukat $678,792.70
19 Alton Jones $671,916.67
20 Peter E Thliveros $671,654.00

1 Ken Cook $640,067.20
2 Woo Daves $538,210.80
3 Stacey D King $510,676.00
4 Paul L Elias $462,114.73
5 Takahiro Omori $439,625.00
6 Dean Rojas $439,248.31
7 Guy H Eaker $404,647.40
8 Harold Allen $380,468.69
9 Joe Thomas $365,048.47
10 Aaron Martens $361,022.33

TOP 27 2002, 2003, 2004 POINTS
1 Bud Pruitt 1811
2 Edwin Evers 1785
3 Kelly Jordon 1781
4 Brent Chapman 1749
5 Tim Horton 1725
6 Dustin Wilks 1684
7 John Murray 1660
8 Mike Wurm 1601
9 Skeet Reese 1570
10 Kevin Wirth 1550
11 Bernie Schultz 1524
12 Ishama Monroe 1506
12 Elton Luce Jr 1506
14 Brian Snowden 1477
15 O T Fears III 1469
16 Randy Howell 1458
17 Todd Faircloth 1457
18 Gerald Swindle 1455
19 Tommy Martin 1430
20 Kotaro Kiriyama 1426
21 Todd Auten 1421
22 Mike Auten 1370
23 Kenyon Hill 1365
24 Tom Mann, Jr 1347
25 Scott Rook 1328
26 Ben Matsubu 1327
27 Roger Boler 1311

1 Jeff Kriet 1308
2 Dean Rojas 1301
3 Marty Stone 1299
4 Gary Yamamoto 1290
5 Jack L Wade 1276
6 Takahiro Omori 1274
7 Mark Menendez 1266
8 Jack A Gadlage 1265
9 Chad Brauer 1255
10 Guy H Eaker 1247

The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail returns to a familiar site. This will mark the 13th time Lake Guntersville has hosted a BASS event. Texan Kelly Jordan was the victor in 2002, the last time BASS visited Guntersville, with a four-day weight of 83 pounds, 11 ounces. That tournament also set the Tour record for heaviest total weight in a tournament when the field of pros brought in an astonishing 5,645 pounds, 4 ounces.


Last BASS event hosted/winner: April 2002/ Kelly Jordon

Number of previous BASS events hosted: 12

Previous Winners: 2002 Kelly Jordon 83-11
1997 Chris Baumgardner 52-6
1992 Denny Brauer 27-3
1992 George Cochran 55-1
1991 Zell Rowland 55-10
1990 Larry Nixon 30-6
1990 Edward Gettys 71-0
1989 Robert Byrd 60-7
1988 Don Snyder 47-5
1987 Rick Clunn 42-6
1980 Basil Bacon 53-10
1976 Rick Clunn 59-15

Heaviest winning weight: Kelly Jordon, 83-11 (2002)

Lowest winning weight: Denny Brauer, 27-3 (1992)

BASS IN ALABAMA The Guntersville event will mark the 61st event conducted in Alabama, which holds the record for most BASS events (followed by Florida with 47). There are two additional BASS events scheduled in Alabama before the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Classic -the season's fifth Tour stop, slated for Lake Eufaula, March 18-21, and the third stop on the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 series, set for June 2-5 on the Alabama River.


Alton Jones - 27 pounds, Harris Chain of Lakes (Fla.)

Alton Jones - 10-13, Harris Chain of Lakes (Fla.)

1. Marty Stone - 4
2. Scott Rook - 4
3. Brent Chapman - 4
4. Michael Iaconelli - 4

Harris Chain of Lakes (Fla.) 3,105 pounds, 5 ounces

Smith Lake (Ala.) 923 pounds, 2 ounces

Harris Chain of Lakes (Fla.) 164 limits

Smith Lake (Ala.) 5 limits

Harris Chain of Lakes (Fla.) 1,238 bass

Smith Lake (Ala.) 357 bass

While BASS has conducted tournaments since 1967, records for the CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer begin with the 1994-95 season, as that was the first year the pro-am tournaments earned points toward the Angler of the Year award.

The heaviest total weight tournament in CITGO Bassmaster Tour history took place in April 2002 on Alabama's Lake Guntersville, where the field of pros brought in an astonishing 5,645 pounds, 4 ounces of bass.

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 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.


West Hills California's Charlie Weyer had the big payday at Smith Lake. The second event for the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer earned him a check for $101,000 as he looks to add to his winnings on Alabama's Lake Guntersville Feb. 26-29.


Seven anglers will begin the 2004 Tour in the BASS Millionaires Club. Those are the anglers who have racked up over $1 million in career BASS prize money. Those seven anglers are:

1 Denny Brauer $1,715,664.21
2 Rick Clunn $1,532,419.53
3 Larry Nixon $1,527,133.58
4 Jay Yelas $1,248,432.00
5 Shaw E Grigsby, Jr $1,210,555.23
6 Kevin VanDam $1,175,683.33
7 Gary Klein $1,159,568.97

Two anglers to watch in 2004 are Ron Shuffield, and Roland Martin. Shuffield, with $969,996 and Martin with $967,142 are poised to join the BASS Millionaires Club by the end of 2004.


The CastingKids program, sponsored by CITGO will be held in conjunction with the BASS Sponsor Expo Saturday, Feb. 28 from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Lake Guntersville State Park Beach. Children between the ages of 7 and 14 can participate in the contest with the chance to earn a scholarship.

The event and instruction to youngsters will be facilitated by the River City Bass Club.


A popular component of the CITGO Bassmaster Tour events this season is the highly interactive and family friendly BASS Sponsor Expo area. Sponsors present interactive exhibits and provide a fun family experience for all ages. The Expos take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and from 12 p.m. until 6 Sunday at the Lake Guntersville State Park Beach.


Registration: Wed., Feb. 25, 3 p.m.
Guntersville State Park Lodge
Briefing - Wed., Feb. 25, 6:30 p.m.
Guntersville State Park Lodge
Day 1 launch - Thurs., Feb. 26, 6 a.m.
Lake Guntersville State Park Beach
Day 1 weigh-in - Thurs., Feb. 26, 2:45 p.m.
Lake Guntersville State Park Beach
Day 2 launch - Fri., Feb. 27, 6 a.m.
Lake Guntersville State Park Beach
Day 2 weigh-in - Fri., Feb. 27, 2:45 p.m.
Lake Guntersville State Park Beach
Day 3 launch - Sat., Feb. 28, 6:30 a.m.
Lake Guntersville State Park Beach
BASS Sponsor Expo - Sat., Feb. 28, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Lake Guntersville State Park Beach
CastingKids Competition - Sat., Feb. 28, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Lake Guntersville State Park Beach
Day 3 weigh-in and cut - Sat., Feb. 28, 3:30 p.m.
Lake Guntersville State Park Beach
Day 4 launch - Sun., Feb. 29, 6:30 a.m.
Lake Guntersville State Park Beach
BASS Sponsor Expo - Sun., Feb. 29, 12 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Lake Guntersville State Park Beach
Day 4 weigh-in - Sun., Feb. 29, 3:30 p.m.
Lake Guntersville State Park Beach


Site: Harris Chain of Lakes - Leesburg, Fla.
Winner: Marty Stone - 61-12
Site: Smith Lake - Jasper, Ala.
Winner: Charlie Weyer - 32-10
Site: Lake Guntersville - Guntersville, Ala.
Feb. 26-Feb. 29
Site: Table Rock Lake - Kimberling City, Mo.
March 4-7
Site: Lake Eufaula - Eufaula, Ala.
March 18-21
Site: Santee Cooper Reservoir - Manning, S.C.
March 25-28


Site: Lake Dardenelle - Russellville, Ark.
April 14-17
Site: Tenn-Tom Waterway - Columbus, Miss.
May 19-22
Site: Alabama River - Prattville, Ala.
June 2-5
Site: Ohio, Cumberland & Tennessee Rivers - Paducah, Ky.
June 16-19


For information and news about BASS events, is available to members of the media and the general public and provides daily wrap-ups and standings from each event as well as schedules of events and other BASS news. Working media can access stats, stories and photos at Please apply for a password today.


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 and Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning.

Local Sponsors include the City of Guntersville, State of Alabama Conservation Department, Marshall County Convention & Visitors Bureau

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