FRIGID TEMPERATURES MAKE FOR HOT FISHING ON ONEIDA LAKE

Syracuse, NY - Chilly temperatures and high winds weren't enough to stop the anglers today on Oneida Lake for the CITGO Bassmaster Northern Open Presented by Busch Beer. The out of the field of 168 pros and 169 amateurs who took to the water this morning, eager to brave the 40 degree weather and 30 mile per hour winds, 99 anglers came back with a five fish limits.

Art Ferguson, III from Michigan came back today with a first day weight of 16 pounds 3 ounces to lead day one of the competition.

"Everything changed from this morning, but amazingly, I caught as many fish in the afternoon as I did in the morning. God's shining on me and it seems like I can't do anything wrong right now. "I've got three or four key areas that I'm fising, but we'll see what the weather does tomorrow. I'm excited to be where I am though going in to tomorrow. I'd say it will take 22 pounds to make the cut tomorrow."

Tied for the second spot were Frank Ippoliti from Maryland and Daryl Biron from Connecticut only five ounces off the lead with a weight of 15-14. The two were happy with second, all things considered.

"This is the first time I've fished this lake," said Ippoliti, "Everything went right today, I need a lot of wind to get my fish to bite. I lost three other ones over three pounds, I should have weighed in 16- or 17- pounds. We left them biting, I had a limit by 8:30, as many as I wanted to catch. My thumb is absolutely raw. I was using a shallow running crankbait that a friend of mind makes. I have two of them, and that's all I was using."

Jordan Paullo from Connecticut was third today with 15-8, but with two more days of competition, anything is possible.

Hometown hero, Mike Cusano wound up fourth today with a 15-5 bag and Chuck Douthit, hailing from North Carolina rounded out the top five with a weight of 14- 15

Lee Cox of Maryland was the leader after the first day on the amateur side. His total weight was 14-11. Being his first open tournament, he was very excited.

"I'm happy, I had a really good partner, Steve Daniels. I guide for a living, but I didn't sign up for the pro side, I decided to fish co-angler and I was lucky enough to draw Steve Daniels who is one of my hero's actually."

We had a good time, we were fishing spinnerbaits over a shallow grass flat that dropped into a two or three foot drop off and the wind just pushed us right along, perfectly."

The tournament continues tomorrow and Saturday. Take off is daily at 6:45 and Weigh-in begins daily at 3:00 at the Oneida Lake Shores

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. In 2004, BASS will introduce the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 Series, a four-event, no-entry-fee circuit featuring a $1.6 million prize purse for the world's best anglers. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer 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.