"If I changed plans, I felt it would hurt me more than help me," Thompson said. "I decided to stay with my plan – to live with the spoon or die with the spoon."
Thompson is living large today thanks to that spoon, a Bass Pro Shops XPS 3/4-ounce spoon with a red No. 4 Gamakatsu treble hook that Thompson added himself. He weighed in a five-bass limit on the final day totaling 13 pounds, two ounces to give him 48 pounds, 14 ounces for three days and a huge win at Clear Lake. He’ll be one of 20 anglers from the West who will fish in the Open Championship on the Ouachita River in Monroe, La., in December and try for five spots in the CITGO Bassmaster Classic.
"Ever since I was 12 years old I've watched the Bassmasters on TV, and this is what I've always wanted to do," said Thompson, a general contractor from Orinda, Calif. "I'm really excited to be going back and fishing for a spot in the Classic. It's been my dream."
Thompson, who said he may fish the Bassmaster Tour next year, had a huge tournament. He anchored his first-day bag of three bass with a nine-pound, six-ounce lunker. That earned him $1,000 for the Day One Purolator Big Bass and the fish held on for another $1,000 as the Purolator Big Bass of the tournament. Thompson also won a $35,000 Triton boat and Mercury motor and $10,500 in cash for the victory.
Thompson said he caught two 4-pound bass early in front of the camera boat, but then his fishing spots dried up. Like a lot of good pros, though, he pulled out a couple of keepers in the 11th hour of the tournament.
"I was pretty nervous until I caught my last two fish," Thompson said. "I caught two keepers in the last 20 minutes, and that did it.”
Anthony Klonowski of Eagle, Idaho was second with 45 pounds, nine ounces. He also won a $35,000 Triton boat and Mercury motor along with $3,500 in cash.
"I just ran out of fish," Klonowski said. "I had a couple of good spots that I worked really hard the first two days. I just didn't have enough fish left today."
Jack Farage, a graphics designer from Discovery Bay in the San Francisco area, won the non-boater division with 41 pounds, 9 ounces. He out-fished his pros -- Larry Hopper on Day One and Two and Charlie Weyer on the third day – to sweep the back-of-the-boat title.
"They'd smack my Rat-L-Trap and miss, and then they'd smack his Rat-L-Trap and get hooked," said West Hills, Calif. pro Charlie Weyer, who was Farage's boater on the final day. "He did a great job out there."
Farage explained that he was "fan casting" his Rat-L-Trap around grass bed areas and getting hit. He said he'd "trigger" the bite, but when the pros threw in there after him, they'd get short-bit or not bit at all.
"I'd let it rest a bit and then go back and catch another fish," Farage said. "I'd let it get quiet, and then get another one."
Farage threw a silver and black Rattle Trap and also dropWestern Western-shotted a 7-inch oxblood-colored Roboworm.
Justin Kerr of Simi Valley took the Day Three Purolator Big Bass $1,000 award for the boaters with an eight-pound, four-ounce largemouth.
Sieg Taylor of Clear Lake nailed a seven-pound, two-ounce bass to earn the Purolator Big Bass $400 prize for non-boaters.
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, which includes the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 series, 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 Southern Open include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Toyota, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, and Bass Pro Shops.
Local Sponsors include Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.