GUTIERREZ TAKES THE LEAD AT BASSMASTER ELITE SERIES ON CALIFORNIA’S CLEAR LAKE

Monroe Trails by Mere Four Ounces

LAKEPORT, Calif. – Red Bluff, Calif., Bassmaster Elite Series pro Greg Gutierrez weighed 32 pounds, 13 ounces of Clear Lake bass Thursday and leads the “Golden State Shootout presented by Evan Williams Bourbon” by four ounces over fellow Californian Ish Monroe of Hughson.

Fishing fans can view all of the on-the-water action on The Bassmasters on ESPN2 April 7 at 9 a.m. ET.

The 108 Elite pros lived up to the hefty expectations that started during the official practice period Monday. Only the top 50 will qualify to fish Saturday for the $100,000 top prize and all the anglers in the cutline Thursday weighed in over 20 pounds.

Gutierrez, who also serves as a California firefighter when he is not traveling to Elite Series events, flipped a jig and worked a swimbait to isolated rock piles on flats.

“I’m so excited right now, this lake is absolutely incredible,” the 45-year-old said. “I think there are more fish in my area too because every time I caught one, there were two or three chasing my bait.”

Gutierrez scored his only BASS victory in October of 2004 on California’s Lake Shasta. Gutierrez’s highest Bassmaster Elite Series finish thus far was a third-place showing at the Sooner Run in June of 2006 on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake.

His massive limit included a 10-pound largemouth bass which tied him with South Carolina’s Davy Hite for the Purolator Big Bass of the Day. The pair will split the $1,000 premium.

Placing in second was the 32-year-old Monroe, who has fished Clear Lake hundreds of times prior and used his extensive knowledge of California’s largest natural freshwater lake to his advantage. A two-time BASS winner, Monroe is primed for his third victory in little over a year.

“Everywhere I went, I caught fish,” Monroe said. “I know this lake like the back of my hand and it helped me today. I just led the fish into the boat.”

Monroe said he is relying on four techniques to catch his fish, but declined to state specifics of his productive patterns.

Rounding out the top five were Peter Thliveros of Jacksonville, Fla., in third with 28 pounds, 11 ounces; Elite Series rookie Jason Williamson of Aiken, S.C., in fourth with 28 pounds, 10 ounces; and Britt Myers of Mt. Holly, N.C., in fifth with 28 pounds, 9 ounces.

Other anglers in the top 15 were three-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam in a tie for seventh with 27 pounds, 8 ounces, and Aaron Martens, winner of the “Duel on the Delta presented by Mahindra Tractors” held last week in Stockton, Calif., in 15th with 26 pounds, 0 ounces.

Leading the co-angler division was Ron Tyson of Marrietta, Ga., who weighed 24 pounds, 1 ounce Thursday. Trailing Tyson for the top prize of a Triton/Mercury boat package valued at $50,000 were Californians Jim White of Westlake Village, with 23 pounds, 1 ounce and Ken Phillips of Antioch, with 22 pounds, 14 ounces.

Weigh-ins for the second day of the Golden State Shootout begin at 6:00 p.m. ET and can be viewed at www.espnoutdoors.com.

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