3 More Classic and 5 More Elite Qualifiers to be Determined After Smith Mountain Lake Event

MONETA, Va. – Chris Dillow of Waynesboro, Va., persevered through near-freezing conditions and a one-hour fog delay on Thursday to catch a limit of 15 pounds, 10 ounces and seize a more than 2-pound lead in the CITGO Bassmaster Northern Tour stop on Smith Mountain Lake.

After the Smith Mountain event — the final stop on the 2006 Northern Tour — three qualifiers for the 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Classic and five qualifiers for the 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series will emerge. Tour pros have been accumulating points all season for the coveted spots.

Meanwhile, if Dillow holds on to his lead, he will take home nearly $30,000 in cash and a fully rigged Triton boat powered by Mercury motor valued at $45,000.

Dillow, 49, said he didn’t develop a solid pattern in practice so Thursday he went to a junk-fishing strategy, a technique that involves throwing a variety of different lures to many different spots.

“The fish are scattered all around and therefore you have to run around the lake to a number of different locations to maximize the bite,” said Dillow, one of only 13 pros who brought in a five-fish limit on Thursday.

Dillow’s Perfect Jig — a lure Dillow makes himself — enticed his biggest bass of the day, a 5-13 largemouth. Although the Virginia angler declined to discuss the color of the bait, he did say he would use it extensively throughout the tournament.

With his hometown of Waynesboro about two hours away from Smith Mountain Lake, Dillow fishes the 20,000-acre lake about 10 times a year.

Trailing Dillow was 47-year-old Kenny Reynolds. Reynolds, who brought in a limit that weighed 13 pounds, 9 ounces, hails from Danville, Va., which is roughly 40 minutes from Smith Mountain Lake. He estimated that he fishes it more than 100 times a year and attributed some of his success Thursday to his vast experience on the fishery.

Much like Dillow on Thursday, Reynolds visited a number of different areas on the lake, including docks, which are usually a popular spot for anglers on the picturesque fishery.

“My day started out slow, but once I caught them, I started to get in a rhythm,” Reynolds said. “Friday, I think I can repeat the success I had, but it all depends on the rain. I don’t want it to rain.”

Friday’s forecast is for heavy rain throughout the day.

Rounding out the top five were Michigan’s Art Ferguson (13-6), Elite angler and Alabama resident Kotaro Kiriyama (12-13), and Virginia’s Robert Hoyt Jr. (12-10). Kiriyama weighed in the Purolator Big Bass of the Day, a 7-15 lunker.

On the co-angler side, Virginia angler Bill Uzzell led the way with 6 pounds. He was followed by New York’s Ken Golubjatnikov (5-14) and Virginia’s Daniel Ray Towe (5-6).

Mike Iaconelli, the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year, finished the day with 0-0. Like many other pros, he didn’t catch a keeper-sized bass.

CITGO Bassmaster Northern Tour sponsors: CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics and MotorGuide.

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation 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 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.