Dudley used a 3/8-ounce brown Dave’s Tournament Tackle jig tipped with a green pumpkin/blue Zoom Super Chunk that he flipped to docks throughout the 20,000-acre lake.
“I caught them all over the lake. I was fishing slow but fast,” he said. “I’d run from one dock to the next, but once I got to each dock, I’d fish slow. I really didn’t pay any attention to the weather. I just stuck with my pattern.”
The key, he added, was to find docks with a large platform that afforded the bass shade and respite from the heavy fishing pressure. When he found one, he skipped his jig far up under the cover and used 17-pound Trilene XT to get the fish out. Most of the docks that surrendered bass were on the main body of Smith Mountain Lake.
“The depth of water didn’t really matter. I just wanted a big dock with shade,” said Dudley. “I have no idea how many different docks I fished. I hit a bunch.”
The weather deteriorated from calm, overcast conditions of the first day to cool, blustery winds on the final day. Although Dudley remained atop the leader board for the entire event, the remainder of the top 10 slots shifted from day to day. Baksay started out in sixth place on day 1 and inched his way up to the second-place slot on the final day with a catch of 9 pounds, 13 ounces and a three-day total of 31-12. His primary bait was a tiny 1/16-ounce brown custom-made jig tied on a Daiichi Bleeding Bait hook tipped with either a Lunker City Piggy Back trailer or a Yamamoto Twin-Tail grub.
“I saw almost every bass I caught. They were sitting in a foot of water and they were all facing rocks,” he recalled. “The key was to throw the bait up on the bank and pull it into the water. If the lure hit the water first, the fish took off. They were real skittish.”
Baksay credits his finish to the red hook, his Lure Eyes polarized sunglasses and 8-pound Maxima fluorocarbon line. He saw several other large bass, including one he estimated at 8 pounds, but he just couldn’t seal the deal. One large bass would have not only given him a limit, it would have given Baksay $50,000 in cash and prizes, including a new Triton boat. Still, the Connecticut angler left Virginia with a Triton boat.
Virginia pro Woo Daves roared back from 29th place on the first day to third overall with a final day five-bass limit that weighed 11 pounds, 9 ounces. He relied on a Zoom finesse worm and a Bagley’s DB2 crawfish crankbait to catch most of his fish.
“I used a green pumpkin worm when it was cloudy. When the sun came out I switched to a watermelon finesse worm,” he said.
New Jersey angler Pete Gluszek claimed fourth with a final weight of 28 pounds, 14 ounces, and Lynchburg angler Steve “Cheeseburger” Roberts, who was in second going into the final day, ended up fifth with a final weight of 28-10. Gluszek, who finished in the top 10 all three Northern Opens, claimed the top spot in the points race.
Mark Clingenpeel, a concrete contractor from Boone’s Mill, Va., brought only one bass to the scales on the final day, but it was enough to edge out New York angler Otto David for first place in the non-boater division. Clingenpeel won a new Triton boat for his three-day total of 18 pounds, 1 ounce. His third-day bass came on a half-ounce white Hawg Caller spinnerbait.
The daily Purolator Big Bass Award in the boater division went to Mark Fields of Moneta, Va. His 5-pound, 1-ounce largemouth earned him $1,000. The Purolator big bass of the tournament also claimed the daily Purolator Big Bass Award in the non-boater division. Reading, Pa., angler Scott Thomas brought a 7-7 to the scales to claim two checks, one for $400 (the daily Purolator big Bass Award) and $1,000 for the Purolator Big Bass Award of the tournament.
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.
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