MORGAN CITY, La. - With the finale of the CITGO BASS Federation Central Divisional, eight men are one step closer to their dream of going to the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer.

The top anglers from each of the eight competing states in the Central Division will advance to the 2005 CITGO BASS Federation Championship presented by Busch Beer and the top angler among the five BASS divisions will advance to the world championship of bass fishing, the Bassmaster Classic. One angler hoping he will be the representative from the Central Division is Louisiana's Jason Pittman.

Pittman was the top angler in the Central Divisional with a three-day weight of 35 pounds, 6 ounces, as well as the top angler from Louisiana, sending him to the Federation Championship.

"It's a great feeling," Pittman said. "Any one of the 12 guys on the team could have done it. They're all great anglers. I've wanted to get to the Classic for a long time. We went to the Classic in Birmingham and I've wanted to go ever since. I've fished the Opens right out of high school, since I was 18, but the Federation trail to the Classic is, I think, the hardest."

Pittman caught most of his fish on a snagproof frog and had quite a bit to say about the fishery.

"I just found a great area and caught some quality fish. I think it's just fortunate that we have the opportunity to fish on this great fishery."

Pittman led Louisiana to the top of the eight teams competing in the Central Divisional and earned a $10,000 check for the Louisiana BASS Federation, something Louisiana BASS Federation President Kevin Gaubert is happy accept.

"This really turned out to be a good tournament," Gaubert said. "I think it could have been a little better if the weather was better, but I think everyone had a really good time."

The second place angler overall was Mississippi's Reid Sanders with a three-day weight of 32-13. Sanders used a yellow buzz bait to catch the majority of his fish and help Mississippi to second in the team standings.

"I'm very happy," Sanders said. "Maybe the Federation Championship will be somewhere not quite as big. I think I saw more alligators over the last few days than boats.

"I fished mainly flat lakes and shallow canals and had a limit my first two days. I brought in four today, though."

Pittman and Sanders will be joined in the CITGO BASS Federation Championship next year by Texan Jimmy Johnson, Arkansan Grant Johnson, Kansan Marc Gilliland, Oklahoman Doss Briggs, Nebraskan Dennis Kotas and Missourian Donald Gossett.

Two anglers split the prize for the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament. Arkansan Bruce Johnson and Kansan Justin Klaudt both brought in 4-pound, 5-ounce fish Thursday that forced them to split the $1,000 prize for the big fish.

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.

BASS Federation Sponsors 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, Evan Williams and BankOne.

Associate Sponsors include G3 Boats.

Local Sponsors include Cajun Coast Chamber of Commerce.

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