On a day when 90 of the 120 anglers caught a five-bass limit, the average weight per angler was just 5 pounds, 9 ounces, with only three breakout anglers topping the 10-pound mark. Colorado angler Jim Bishop, representing the Utah Federation, edged his way into the front of the pack with an 11-pound, 11 ounce catch, dominated by four largemouth bass and rounded out by one of the feisty, plentiful smallmouths that made up the majority of fish caught in the first round.
Bishop, who has been fishing Lake Powell regularly for about 30 years, says he had “a lucky day.” Despite one of the latest start times of the tournament – usually a disadvantage that keeps late-flight anglers out of the most coveted fishing areas – Bishop managed to come in heavy and prop up the Utah state team, which had been flirting with last place among the 10 state teams gathered here.
“I usually make up my mind when I get in the boat, where I’m going to go and what I’m going to do,” Bishop said. “I was third to last boat out and we just went around until we found a spot no one was fishing.
“I fish Lake Powell a lot, for a long time, too. I’ve got quite a few areas. It’s a big lake.”
Bishop is just 10 ounces ahead of his closest competitor Dave Mehalechko of Glendale, Ariz., but in the Federation Divisional format, it’s really the guys on his own team that are cause for concern. The best angler on each of the 10 teams will also earn a berth in the 2005 CITGO BASS Federation Championship presented by Busch Beer. After Friday’s final round, 10 of the sunburned anglers gathered at Bullfrog Basin will have earned those berths and be one precious step closer to qualifying for bass fishing’s world championship, the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer.
The twelve-angler teams from each of the 10 states in the BASS Federation Western Division are competing for the lion’s share of the $13,000 prize purse, determined by which team brings in the heaviest three-day total of bass, which are released back into Lake Powell after each day’s weigh-in. Heading into the second of three tournament days, the Colorado state team has just a 2-and-a-half-pound lead over Montana, with just 13 pounds, 4 ounces separating Colorado from Arizona’s team, which is in last place.
Launch begins daily at 5:45 a.m. from Bullfrog Marina. Weigh-ins at the marina begin at 2:45 Thursday and Friday and are open to the public.
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 Western Divisional 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, and BankOne.
Associate sponsors include G3 Boats.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.