Buffalo, N.Y. – The fishing conditions may have changed at the CITGO Bassmaster Northern Open presented by Busch Beer, but the leader did not: Canada’s Gaspare Costabile kept a firm grasp on the lead heading into Saturday’s final round. His 19-pound, 3-ounce catch on Lake Erie boosted his two-day total weight to 39-11.

“I’m a lot more comfortable today than I was yesterday,” said Costabile, who is fishing for the $50,000 top prize and valuable points toward the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship presented by Busch Beer. “The water was nice and slick today and I was able to stay on the fish a little easier. The bite is slow, though. Folks keep telling me that I’m burning them up, but I’m really not. It might be an hour or an hour and a half between each fish.

“I’ve been throwing, pretty much strictly tubes, with quarter-ounce or three-eighth-ounce heads. A lot of times I’m dead-sticking it. It’s tough, though. I really like to catch smallmouth on a spinnerbait, but what ever it takes, you know?”

Costabile, who brought in 51-1 to claim third in this competition a year ago, knows how to succeed on this body of water.

“I’m going to stay the course tomorrow,” he said, citing his 1-pound, 5-ounce lead over his closest competitor. “There’s really no room to gamble. I’m going to stay with the sand and rock shoals. I culled about a half a dozen or more fish today and I dropped a couple of nice ones at the boat, so I know there will be fish there tomorrow.”

Second-place honors again went to Ohio’s Frank Scalish brought in a nice limit Friday that brought his two-day weight up to 38-6 and kept him in the hunt for the win.

“The bites didn’t come on as strong for me today,” Scalish said. “Today I had to work hard to get a limit, but once they started coming, I had them in a hurry.

“I changed up my presentation a little bit today. I started using a 4-inch Yum Dinger on a jig head, which is how I caught most of my better fish.

“If I get a good bite tomorrow, I have a shot, but I’ve got to get some 5-pounders. I know they’re in there; this lake is phenomenal.”

Connecticut’s Chris Bielert (34-14); Maryland’s Aaron Hastings (34-10); and Florida’s Peter Thliveros (34-6) round out the top five on the boater side.

On the non-boater side, New York’s Mike Cusano is leading the field with 32-1. Cusano gave most of the credit to his boater partners.

“I’ve been having an unbelievable time and I’ve been very fortunate to have two very excellent partners each day,” he said. “Yesterday I fished with Richard ‘Hootie’ Smith and today I was in the boat with Mark Duerr, both great guys.”

Ohio’s Kevin Price took home $1,000 from Purolator for the Purolator Big Bass of the Day on the boater side, while Canada’s Bill Wray picked up the $400 for the Purolator Big Bass of the Day on the non-boater side.

Wray’s 5-11 lunker is currently leading the running for the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament, which will earn him an additional $1,000 from Purolator if it proves to be the biggest bass of the competition.

The field was cut to the top 50 boaters and non-boaters after Friday’s round. The CITGO Bassmaster Northern Open on Lake Erie concludes Saturday. Weigh-ins will be held at the Buffalo Harbor State Park & Marina starting 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. v Local Sponsors include Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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