GILFORD, N.H. – The Massachusetts team gained ground on Thursday, but New Hampshire kept the lead with a 236-pound, 15-ounce cumulative catch at the CITGO BASS Federation Eastern Divisional presented by Busch Beer.

The 12 anglers on the Massachusetts squad boated 224-8 in a bid to overtake the lead and claim the $15,000 that is the brass ring for all 14 teams competing in the Eastern Divisional.

Joe Lucarelli leads the way for the New Hampshire team with an individual weight of 26-1. Lucarelli knows that he’s going to have to keep up the pace through the final day – and he’s trying to avoid looking beyond that, to the individual anglers’ top prize, a berth in the 2005 CITGO BASS Federation Championship. v “I’m not going to be thinking about the Federation Championship until about 3:01 tomorrow,” Lucarelli said, noting that he has to top the 11 other anglers on his team to earn the berth. “These boys know this water pretty good and the competition is so tough. If you screw up just a little bit, they’re all over you like vultures.

“… Tomorrow I’m going to gamble a little. I’m going to catch my smallmouth and then go looking for the largemouth. You have to gamble in these at some point though, if you want to win.”

Another angler looking to break into the Federation Championship is Massachusetts’s Jamie Worth. He is leading his team and sitting second overall with a weight of 25-9.

Worth likes his chances in Friday’s finale that could send him, along with the top angler from each of the other 13 states, to the amateur world championship. Five anglers from the Federation Championship earn berths in the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic, the only amateurs to qualify for the world championship.

“I really just want to win the whole thing,” Worth said. “I just think this should be won by someone from Massachusetts. If I get 13 pounds tomorrow, I think I can win the whole thing

“The bite is getting tougher, though. The bigger fish are moving faster. I plan to go to a brand new spot tomorrow. I checked on that spot today and I had some fish breaking the surface, so it should be good.”

Massachusetts’ David Swett is still holding tight to his claim on the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament Award with the 6-6 lunker he caught on day one. If that fish holds out for the remainder of the tournament, Swett will take home $1,000 from Purolator.

Competition for the CITGO BASS Federation Eastern Divisional presented by Busch Beer will conclude Friday. Launch will be at 7 a.m. from the Silver Sands Marina with weigh-ins starting promptly at 3 p.m. at Gilford Beach.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail 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 Eastern Divisional presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Toyota, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Evan Williams, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.

Local Sponsors include Massachusetts BASS Federation.

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