TYLER RALLIES TO WIN WESTERN OPEN AT CLEAR LAKE

Mark Tyler was looking for a boost in confidence at Clear Lake, and he found it Saturday by winning the CITGO Bassmaster Western Open presented by Busch Beer.

Tyler entered the final day of the three-day tournament in sixth place, but the always-a-best-man, never-a-groom on the Bassmaster Tour put together a 5- bass stringer totaling 19 pounds, 11 ounces to overtake first- and second-day leader Bill Siemantel of Castaic, Calif. Tyler finished with 48 pounds, 14 ounces, edging David Gliebe, whose awesome final-day bag of 23-10 catapulted him from 24th to second with 46-1 for three days. Siemantel slid to third with 45-7.

"I really needed this win," Tyler said. "I've had a lot of seconds, thirds and fourths, and I was wondering if I was capable of winning out here. It really helps because I'm a full-time angler now."

Tyler said he flipped tubes in the thick tules that ring the 25 miles of shoreline of Clear Lake, and he also used a Luhr Jensen Speed Trap crankbait, the hot bait here this week. The eighth-year pro won a fully-rigged Triton bass boat and $10,350 in cash, a package worth $45,350. Gliebe also won a fully-rigged Triton and $3,450 cash. It was the 45th boat Gliebe has won in his career that spans back to 1976. He's also won two trucks and a Cadillac.

Local tackle shop owner Bob Higgins, 58, of nearby Clear Lake Oaks, was the top amateur with 40 pounds, 2 ounces. Higgins jumped from 25th to first, overtaking second-day leader John Olimpic

"I'm so excited I don't even know where I'm at right now," said Higgins, who owns Limit Out Tackle. "I've been fishing for 23 years, and this is the greatest thing that's ever happened to me. I finally made it."

Higgins threw Luhr Jensen Speed Trap crankbaits and credited his pro, Kent Brown, for helping. Brown was changing into his shorts when Higgins hooked a huge bass and called for the net. Brown, his pants around his ankles, hopped over to help his amateur and boated the giant bass. Higgins' final-day stringer of 23 pounds, 11 ounces was the second-biggest of the tournament and included that 7-pounder that Brown netted.

Higgins won a fully-rigged Triton worth $24,000. 

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation.  In 2004, BASS will introduce 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, Chevrolet Trucks, Yamaha Outboards, Mercury Marine, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Kumho Tires, Progressive Insurance, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Diamond Cut Jeans, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, and BankOne.

Associate Sponsors include Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning and G3 Boats.

Local Sponsors include the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit http://www.bassmaster.com