Martin, who holds nine Angler of the Year titles, leaped into the lead Saturday with a three-day total catch of 52 pounds, 1 ounce. If Martin wins on Sunday, the $100,000 prize purse will put his all-time BASS winnings over $1 million, boosting him into the BASS Millionaires’ Club, something that Martin has wanted for a long time.
“I retired one time, 10 or 12 years ago and I came back and I’ve since done pretty well on the Tour, but I’ve done terrible this year,” Martin said. “This has just been the worst year I’ve ever had. I’m way down in the (Angler of the Year) points and this is the best tournament that I’ve had, so I’ve felt like, well, maybe I will retire but I’m not going to retire for sure until I hit the million dollar mark.”
Martin, who is fishing a jig and a spinnerbait, stayed with the patterns to bring in 18-14 Saturday and take the Busch Heavyweight catch of the day, worth an additional $1,000 from Busch Beer. If his catch is one of the 10 heaviest at the end of the Tour and Bassmaster Elite 50 series, he will have the opportunity to fish the $160,000 Busch Shootout tournament on a mystery lake in September.
But for now, the goal is to stay at the top of the field, which could be a tricky proposition.
“I’ve narrowed it down to a very narrow window,” Martin added. “It’s a precise water temperature, water clarity and type of pocket and the wind has to be a certain way. You know all those things are critical, and I pretty well know what to look for.”
Arkansas’ Mark Davis, who tied with Martin for second place on Friday, stayed in the number two spot to make Saturday’s cut to the Super Six. His three-day catch of 49-10 keeps him in the hunt for the victory.
“I’m in there,” said Davis, a former Angler of the Year and CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion. “I’ve got a shot. That’s all you can ask for in a four-day tournament, to have a chance to win going into the last day. It’s easy to have a good day here and it’s also easy to have a bad day. I could have stayed where I was yesterday … and I wouldn’t have caught anything, but when you’ve got that confidence and you’ve got that momentum going, you have to keep riding it.”
Alabama’s Gerald Swindle jumped from 11th to take the third spot with 17-13 sack that included a 7-3 bass, earning him $1,000 from Purolator for the Purolator Big Bass of the day. His three-day catch of 44-15 is a mere 6 ounces ahead of fourth place South Carolinian Todd Auten with 44-9. Mississippi’s Paul Elias (40-5), who led the first two days, and Illinois’ Chad Morganthaler (39-1) were fifth and sixth.
Competition concluded on the amateur side Saturday with North Carolina’s Terry Chapman taking home $36,000 in cash and merchandise as well as a year’s worth of CITGO gasoline. Chapman was thrilled with the win, especially since he had never fished on Table Rock before.
“I’ve read for years and years about the lake and I’ve always wanted to fish here and when it came up on the schedule, I hoped I got picked for it,” Chapman said. “It kind of favors Beaver Lake, which I’ve fished a whole lot, but nothing like where I live. I actually won a pro/am on Lake Murray back in ’96. I’m retired, I don’t want to do anything but fish, and I love it.”
The $500 Purolator Big Bass award on the amateur side went to Arkansan John Harris, who weighed in a 5-pound, 6-ounce lunker.
The CITGO Bassmaster Tour event on Table Rock Lake will conclude Sunday. Launch begins at 6:45 a.m. from the What’s Up Dock Marina. Weigh-in will also be held at the What’s Up Dock Marina beginning at 3 p.m.
Fans can watch "The CITGO Bassmasters" telecast of the Table Rock Lake tournament on Saturday, March 13 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT on ESPN2.
The CITGO Bassmaster Tour events this season feature the highly interactive and family friendly BASS Sponsor Expo area. Sponsors present interactive exhibits and provide a fun family experience for all ages. The Expo will take place from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday at the What’s Up Dock Marina.
The Bassmaster CastingKids program presented by CITGO was held in conjunction with the BASS Sponsor Expo Saturday, from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the What’s Up Dock Marina. In the 7-10 year-old category, 9-year-old CJ Banker of Aurora, Mo., won. Eleven-year-old Kory Mouser from Markone, Mo., took top honors in the 11-14 age group.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. This April, BASS introduces 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.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail 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 and Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning.
Local Sponsors include Kimberling City Lodging Association.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.