FPT heads to "Gold Country" this Saturday

ROCKLIN, Ca – In and around an area that once hosted the great California gold rush of the mid 1800's, lies a lake that today hosts one of the best gold mines for spotted bass in the west – beautiful Lake Oroville.

But Future Pro Tour anglers won't be bringing shovels and picks to this 15,500 surface acre gold country lake. High performance bass boats, rods, reels, and the latest in electronics and lure technologies will be the tools necessary for successful mining on this lake that is absolutely full of spotted bass.

This third event in the 7-event Future Pro Tour season, presented by People's Folsom Lake – Chrysler/Jeep/Hyundai, is an important one for many of those anglers determined to gain ground on their chances to qualify for a spot in this November's Future Pro Tour Classic championship in which a fully-rigged Ranger 185vs with Evinrude outboard and full Minnkota/Humminbird electronic will be awarded as top prize.

"We constantly keep it in the forefront of our minds that only 45 teams in our region will make it to the big show on Clearlake in November," commented James Markham and Paul Parks who currently sit at the top of the overall points standings. We are not taking any of the remaining events lightly, nor are we making any assumptions as to how we are going to do," he added cautiously. We are going to stay focused at each event and try to ensure that we get a shot at making the Classic in November”.

Also at stake at the conclusion of the 2006 season, is the prestigious Future Pro Tour Angler of the Year title in which the winning team receives up to $2,000 cash for winning the AOY title, limited sponsorships from major tackle companies such as Reaction Innovations, Lucky Craft, Lamiglas Rods, DocWaters, Angler's Press promotions/resume service, and 2- co-angler entries into a 2007 FLW/Stren Series event.

"We are definitely going for the AOY title” stated Hayward's Joe Gomes, who won the title with his father George Gomes Sr. in 2004, and now fishes with brother George Jr. “When dad and I won that title in '04 it was one of the greatest days of my life, and there is nothing more that I would love to do than to share that same experience with my brother”, he added respectfully. Joe and George Jr. currently sit in 3rd place.

“We want that AOY title”, stated Paul Cunningham and Shaun Leytem, who, lurking in the shadows (4th place overall) are depending on their combined experience to overcome the odds of winning the AOY title. “The AOY title is about angling consistency, and while those currently ahead of us are great anglers, we will be extremely focused at every upcoming event to put ourselves in a position to win the title.

And you can best believe Paul and Shaun have their work cut out for them. Right behind them - and in front of them - are teams like John Lowe and Kyle Merkins, who scored a recent victory at Clearlake, and wily veteran teams like John Kirgan and Bill Talley who are also in the hunt and definitely have the skills to ruin AOY dreams for some teams.

And we can't forget about teams like Dave Amato and Steven LeSieur, newcomers who are only in their second year of fishing the tour and are showing extremely well, threatening to take all the seasoned veterans down!

So stay tuned….this 2006 AOY race is wide-open….and far from being over!

The Oroville event will be held on Saturday, May 20th launching out of the Spillway ramp. On May 19th, in the Spillway parking lot, we will host our traditional seminar/raffle festivities featuring these veteran pro anglers and new pro anglers:

Ralph Harkins

Battery Systems pro staffer, and solid member of Galaxie Marine/ Triton boats pro staff, this 2-time W.O.N Bass team angler of the year, knows Oroville. And, most importantly, he knows how to prepare for team competition. So if you're looking for that extra "edge" to help make you a little bit more competitive, don't miss what Ralph will have to say.

- Justin Lucas

A recent “graduate” of Future Pro Tour competition, Justin has earned a reputation for tenacity, and knowing how to catch fish during competition – when it counts. This recent FLW/Stren Series co-angler champion (2005 Shasta Lake) knows Oroville Lake better than most, and will help you understand how to target bigger fish during competition.

- John Billiheimer

Another graduate of Future Pro Tour competition, (FPT 2005 Folsom Lake champion), John “hit the floor running” and has made a big splash on the western scene, fishing his pro debut in 2006 at the FLW/Stren series competition on Lake Mead winning the 3-day event with impressive style. His performance has stayed consistent, as he has posted high marks in subsequent events and is quickly becoming an angler to watch for in pro level events. He and Justin fished FPT competition in 2005 as partners and with that experience will be able to give you a recent perspective on amateur level team fishing - and how to prepare yourself for big events.

- Ryan White

An outstanding deep-water angler and SERIOUS dropshot/darterhead aficionado, Ryan will open up his tackle bag and show you what plastics you need to throw to help you “weed” through the smaller spotted bass so prevalent at this time of year on Lake Oroville. Ryan, is not only a seasoned pro, but also the general manager of Galaxie Marine in Auburn, and is a strong supporter of the Future Pro Tour. He is extremely thorough, and detail oriented, in his presentations, and very excited to be part of helping new anglers learn more about the sport of bass fishing.

So come on out and join us for an event that will help kick the summer season off right! As always, late registrations will be taken the morning of the event from 4 to 6am at the Spillway ramp, and trial memberships for this event are just $5 per team.

See you all in Gold Country!

Vince Harris
Director, Future Pro Tour Tournament Trails