Dudley Fends Off Challenger, Keeps Northern Open Lead

MONETA, Va. – David Dudley may be in the lead, but “Cheeseburger” was in paradise on Day 2 of the CITGO Bassmaster Northern Open presented by Busch Beer after weighing 14 pounds, 15 ounces, the heaviest sack of the day. Dudley, the current leader, who weighed 10 pounds, 4 ounces for a total two-day weight of 24 -14.

Steve Roberts, known as Cheeseburger to his friends, jumped 20 spots to second place by sticking with his game plan and fishing the same water and lures as the first day on Smith Mountain Lake. He was rewarded with a two-day total of 23 pounds.

“I probably caught ten keepers today and lost one. I lost two yesterday,” said Roberts, who only weighed four bass Thursday. He spent both days flipping a jig and plans to do the same on the final day.

“I lost a 2-pounder right at the boat,” said Dudley, who has a slim lead over his hometown neighbor. Dudley, who overcame a broken trolling motor early yesterday, had a close call with a 4-pound largemouth (the largest of his sack today) that became entangled in a submerged pipe or cable under a dock. “I didn’t know I pitched my jig over this pipe or whatever it was until I hooked this fish and tried to bring her in. I could see her hung up on it and I couldn’t get her over it. I just had to pull. Thank God she came over and I was able to get her in.”

Both anglers are from Lynchburg, Va., located about 45 minutes from the 20,000-acre reservoir. The only difference, at least for this Bassmaster tournament, is that Roberts spent nine days practicing; Dudley, ever-confident, practiced only two. This is Dudley’s first Bassmaster event of the year, but Roberts is fishing the entire Northern Open series with any eye toward future rewards. The top 20 in the Northern Open point standings will qualify for the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship and a crack at one of five spots in bass fishing’s world championship, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. The top 15 anglers in the point standings will earn berths on the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Tour.

Massachusetts angler Mark Burgess slipped from second place to seventh after his buzzbait bite that proved effective the first day fell apart early in the morning on Day 2. He managed two quick fish, but couldn’t get anything going the rest of the day.

The weather over Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains changed noticeably a few hours into the second day as calm, overcast skies gave way to a mix of clouds and sun and a cool, gusty autumn wind. Despite the changing conditions, virtually all of the top pros used similar tactics to those they used on the first day. Dudley worked docks, primarily with a jig, throughout the picturesque reservoir. Although he grew up fishing Smith Mountain Lake, he hadn’t been on it in nearly nine years prior to the practice period.

Connecticut angler Terry Baksay, currently in third place, was one of only two anglers to catch a five-bass limit yesterday and today. Only six limits were brought to the scales today. The other boater who caught a limit both days was New Jersey angler Pete Gluszek, who is riding high atop the points race.

Yesterday’s first- and second-place anglers in the non-boater division flip-flopped. Mark Clingenpeel, of Boone’s Mill, Va., brought six pounds, nine ounces of bass to the scale today for a total two-day weight of 15-3. Connecticut angler Peter Bates was bumped to second place by Clingenpeel.

The Purolator Big Bass award in the non-boater division went to Robert Hoyt, of Wirtz, Va. He weighed a 5-pound, 12-ounce largemouth that earned him a $400 check from Purolator.

Ontario angler Jon Bondy claimed the Purolator Big Bass award in the boater division. Bondy’s 6-pound, 8-ounce bass earned him a check for $1,000 from Purolator and is the biggest fish of the tournament so far. If it holds out, it will earn an additional $1,000 as the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament.

Saturday’s weigh-in will take place at the lower level of the Bridgewater Plaza at 3:20 p.m. Anglers will launch beginning at 7:15 a.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 Northern Open include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Toyota, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne. Local Sponsors include Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce.

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