BASS News: Final Story and Standings from Bassmaster Elite 50 Series

COLUMBUS, Miss. - Arkansas pro Mark Davis became the first angler to post a wire-to-wire win at a Bassmaster Elite 50 series event after Saturday's final round on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Davis brought in a 12-pound, 9-ounce sack Saturday to claim victory for the second time on the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer.

"I've led lots of tournaments, but I've never won (this way)," the former CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion said. "I've never led wire to wire and won before."

Davis stuck to a tried-and-true strategy for the final day of the event, which will air in two parts on ESPN2, May 29 and June 5 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT. The June 5 show will focus on the tournament's final rounds after Thursday's field cut, when anglers rotated through a separate, six-hole course.

"I did exactly what I did yesterday, today," Davis said, "but the fish changed this afternoon. I'm not quite sure where they went. They may have gone deeper, I don't really know.

"I started looking for these fish in practice using a Strike King Series One crank bait. I found some schools of fish, and in the tournament, I just went fishing using a worm. I figured something out, though. The fish weren't in the grass. They were in front of the grass. That's where I was catching them.

"This is really, really sweet. (Winning) the Table Rock event was great because it was long overdue, but this one is sweet, too, because it's the second event in a year. This really gives me confidence going into the next event in Prattville."

Davis' Bassmaster Elite 50 trophy was presented by Thomas Hamill, the Mississippi native who was held hostage in Iraq and escaped. Davis will take home $5,000 for winning the event and jumped up to 11th place in the Elite 50 standings.

Michigan's Kevin VanDam was the second-place angler with a weight of 26-14, but just didn't have the big fish he needed to take the victory.

"I couldn't get that 5-pounder today like I did yesterday," he said. "That could have really made a difference. I pretty much just decided to run and gun around the holes today. I had a tough time today.

"I felt like the fish were keying on wood and I thought it was my best chance today to fish as much wood as I could find."

VanDam did best Davis in one regard: his second-place finish in Mississippi boosted him to the top of the Elite 50 point standings. If VanDam can keep the lead, he stands to win the $150,000 Bassmaster Elite 50 series' first prize, the largest share of the $1.6 million total purse.

North Carolina's Dustin Wilks took home third place and added a $1,000 check for the Purolator Big Bass of the Day, earned with a 5-6 lunker. That 5-6 was an ounce shy of VanDam's Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament, a 5-7 bass caught in Friday's round. That bass earned VanDam an additional $1,000 from Purolator.

Wilks' day four sack of 14-0 also earned him a $1,000 check from Busch Beer for the Busch Heavyweight of the day, a voluntary contingency program that rewards the participating angler with the largest catch of the day.

The Bassmaster CastingKids program sponsored by CITGO was held in conjunction with the BASS Sponsor Expo Saturday. The winners of the event were Blake Bradford from Columbus, Miss., in the 7-10 age group and Tyler Wood of Collingsville, Miss., in the 11-14 age group.

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.

Local Sponsors include the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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