Johanson, of Benton City, Wash., thrilled the crowd at the CITGO Bassmaster Western Open presented by Busch Beer with a 20-pound, 13-ounce catch on Friday that gave him a two day total of 33-7. That catapulted him into the lead going into the final round of the $261,813 tournament on the San Joaquin Delta.

Johanson freely admitted to fishing with a Yamamoto Senko worm, but went mute on the topic of his most productive area.

“I moved around a lot,” he said, “but, I caught all of these fish on one area.”

It was an area Johanson fished in Thursday’s round, but it only became productive Friday. Johanson said it’s a sign of the Delta’s fickle nature, a hot topic among anglers here.

“That’s the way the Delta is,” he said. “They move in and move out and you never know where they are.”

On such a changeable fishery, he added, the key to not just to find fish, but to find spots that are likely to produce big fish, over and over again.

“Some spots are 10-pound spots and some spots are 20-pound spots,” he said. “They’re going to be in this spot at least one day out of three. If I go there tomorrow, I might not catch anything. There’s also a chance they’ll bite better.”

Johanson had better cross his fingers that the bite turns on again Saturday, because Arizona’s Mark Tyler is hard on his heels with a 32-13 total. Tyler, a pro on the CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer, currently holds the BASS record for the largest fish ever caught in competition, a 14-9 largemouth he landed on tax day in 1999.

While Tyler is not counting on a similar whopper to win the tournament and the $46,100 winner’s purse – “That’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime moment,” he said – he is a regular competitor on the Delta and said it helped him a lot this week.

“I have a lot of years of experience here and I had a really bad practice, so I’ve really just been flying by the seat of my pants,” Tyler said. “I’m trying out a lot of things. You can’t make a prediction on the Delta because there’s so many double-digit fish out there.”

The 132-boat field cut to the top 50 boaters and top 50 non-boaters after Friday’s round. The top five boaters include Johanson, Tyler, Steve Sapp of Manteca, Calif. (32-11); Dee Thomas of Brentwood, Calif. (31-15); and Tom Duarte of Bonners Ferry, Idaho (30-10).

In addition to fishing for cash and prizes, the anglers are competing for spots in the Open season point standings, which send the top 20 Western anglers to the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship presented by Busch Beer. The top five anglers at the Championship will earn berths in bass fishing’s world championship, the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer.

One of the most exciting moments of Friday’s weigh-in came from the non-boater side of the tournament. Scott Head of Knightsen, Calif., brought in a whopping 22-pound, 2-ounce catch, the largest on either side of the tournament.

Head rebounded from a bad first round, in which he weighed just one fish, to lead the non-boater field. He said his strategy was to stick with the bait that caught Thursday’s solo bass.

“I threw that all day today,” he said. “I’m stoked. It’s been my dream to fish Bassmasters and I’m just so happy. I came into it just hoping I’d make the cut and I’m going to go away happy, no matter what happens tomorrow.”

If head keeps the lead, he will win a $24,000 bass boat. In addition to Head, the non-boater top 5 includes Brian Stafford of Fairfield, Calif. (21-6); Dale Taft of Lancaster, Calif. (19-14); Martin Dehaven of Fresno, Calif. (19-10); and Lewis Southard of Chandler, Ariz. (19-7).

Two anglers won cash on Friday for bringing in the biggest bass in their respective divisions. Bob Higgins of Clear Lake, Calif., earned $400 for bringing in an 8-3 lunker, the Purolator Big Bass of the Day on the non-boater side. Bill McAninch of Tucson, Ariz., anchored his catch with an 8-5 largemouth worth $1,000 as the boaters’ Purolator Big Bass of the Day.

Saturday’s launch is at 5:30 a.m. at Russo’s Marina. Weigh-ins at the marina begin at 2:30 p.m.

The second Western Open will be held Oct. 21-23 on Lake Shasta in Shasta Lake, Calif. and the Western Opens will conclude Nov. 18-20 on Clear Lake, near Lakeport, Calif.

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 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.

The tournament is sponsored locally by Russo’s Marina.

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