That all changed for Mize on the opening day of the ‘BUSCH Shootout’ out of the Big Cedar Lodge.
Mize, of Ben Lomond, Ark., led the way Friday with a five-fish limit weighing 14 pounds, 3 ounces. That stringer included the heaviest bass of the day at 5 pounds, 8 ounces. “I've had some really good practice days here,” Mize said. “I've been fishing here 18 years and I've never cashed a check here.”
Mize definitely will get a check Saturday. Twelve of the 13 pro anglers who qualified for the unique tournament will go home with $5,000. The winner pockets $100,000.
The field includes the anglers who caught the 10 heaviest single-day stringers during the CITGO Bassmaster Tour and the Elite 50 Series, as well as the fishermen who caught the heaviest single-day weights at the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic, the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship and the 2005 Federation Championship.
The location of the Shootout was not revealed until Thursday afternoon and anglers did not get an opportunity to practice. Mize, who qualified by catching the heaviest stringer at the Classic, went to spots where he had done well during past practices and had his limit before 11 a.m. under overcast skies. His big bass came within the first 45 minutes.
“I fished the first bank and didn't catch anything, then I fished the second bank and caught them pretty good,” Mize said. “After I got my limit, I left and went to try to find something that'll work for afternoon fishing.”
Brent Chapman of Shawnee, Kansas, was second with a limit weighing 12-13. Gerald Swindle of Hayden, Ala., was third with a limit weighing 12-2, followed by reigning Classic champion Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., with three fish weighing 8-10 and Zell Rowland of Montgomery, Texas, with three fish weighing 4-15.
The top five all secured a spot in Saturday afternoon's championship round. The other eight anglers will have their weights zeroed and fish Saturday morning. The angler with the heaviest weight advances to the championship round. Meanwhile, the top five have their weights zeroed and fish Saturday morning. The angler with the heaviest total weight for Saturday wins the $100,000.
“The weather will be different Saturday. It'll probably be clear,” Mize said. “Early morning will probably be alright, but the afternoon will be a lot tougher.”
Like Mize, Chapman also got off to a fast start, getting six keeper bites in the first 90 minutes.
“I ran about 45 miles,” said Chapman, who fishes Table Rock a lot - he qualified for the Shootout with a stringer weighing 22-5 during a Tour event here - and went to an area that had produced in the only other tournament he'd fished here at this time of the year.
“My very first cast, I just threw it out there just to get my line straight, made about two cranks and caught a 2-and-a-half-pounder, so I knew it was going to be a good day.”
Swindle was nervous when he found out that the tournament would be in the clear, deep water of Table Rock. He said he packed mostly heavy jigs, frog baits and braided line in the Bassmaster tackle bag provided to the anglers.
Fortunately, the pros were given a 30-minute, $300 shopping spree at the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store in nearby Springfield and Swindle loaded up with small hooks, small baits and light line.
“I kind of fished the way I would fish at home on Smith Lake and it worked out,” he said. “Instead of fishing in 30 feet on the bottom, I fished for suspended fish on deeper, rocky dropoffs and bridge pilings where the fish were 30 feet deep and I caught a whole lot of fish.”
BUSCH beer is the “Official Beer of BASS,” and committed to supporting BASS anglers across the country through its continued association with BASS, and its sponsorship of Denny Brauer, 14-time winner of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail and 1987 BASS Angler of the Year.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.