JENKS, Okla. - Thad Takes kissed the trophy cradled in his arms as 4,500 fans stood and cheered the freshly crowned CITGO BASS Federation Champion. Takes, of Center Point, Iowa, staged a come-from-behind triumph to earn the amateur champion's laurels, $18,000, and the sweetest prize of all: a berth in bass fishing's world championship, the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer.

"Without a doubt, there's absolutely nothing I can put on my resume that will be more important than this," he said. "It was great that people show up for events like this. It shows people like me that there's interest in our sport beyond just the fishermen."

Takes' victory came on a day darkened by the death of a fellow competitor, Vermont's Ray Sprano, who passed away in his sleep Friday night. The final day of the tournament was dedicated in Sprano's honor as the anglers launched on Keystone Lake.

Takes, who caught just a single bass on the first day of competition, knew he had the ability to come back from his deficit. After all, his jersey proudly proclaims him the 2004 Iowa State Champion and the state's fisherman of the year. In the end, Takes brought in a total of 27 pounds of fish, anchored by 14 pounds, 12 ounces of bass on Saturday, including a 5-pound, 8-ounce lunker that was the largest fish caught at the event.

"We have lakes that are similar to it in Iowa and they're just as tough, so I've learned to some degree to fish for this tournament," he said. "That's an awfully big bag for this lake. It's an awfully tough lake to figure out."

In addition to the $15,000 winner's purse, Takes earned $1,000 from Purolator for having Saturday's Purolator Big Bass of the Day, plus another $1,000 for the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament.

He picked up a third check for $1,000 for his Saturday catch, which earned him the Busch Heavyweight prize and a berth in September's Busch Shootout, in which he will compete on a mystery lake with pros from the CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer, the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship presented by Busch Beer, and the Bassmaster Elite 50 series.

At the moment, however, his eyes are on the Classic.

"I've never been to it, so I have no idea what to expect," confessed Takes, who had never competed in a Federation Championship until this week.

There will be a few familiar faces from this week's competition joining him at the Classic in Charlotte, N.C., July 30-Aug. 1. The top angler in each of the Federation's five geographic divisions earns a berth. Takes, the Northern division champion, will be joined by Pennsylvania's George Acord, the Eastern division champion; Washington's Jeff Boyer, the Western division champion; Alabama's Russ Lane, the Southern division champion; and Arkansas' William Pippen, the Central division champion.

Fans can watch the 2004 CITGO BASS Federation Championship presented by Busch Beer on "The CITGO Bassmasters" on ESPN2, Saturday, July 24 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT.

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 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 BASS Federation Championship presented by Busch Beer 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, BankOne, and Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Associate sponsors include G3 Boats.

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