BIG DAY PUTS REDDING ANGLER ATOP WESTERN OPEN STANDINGS
SHASTA LAKE, Calif. - Five years ago Russ Meyer quit fishing, flat out gave up the sport as his recreation and full-time profession to spend more time with his family.
But Friday on Day Two of the CITGO Bassmaster Western Open presented by Busch Beer at spectacular Lake Shasta, Meyer made his comeback to the sport in a big way. Meyer weighed in five bass totaling 12 pounds, 2 ounces. His two-day total of 22-15 gave him a slight 7-ounce lead over Day One leader Greg Gutierrez of Red Bluff, whose 9-7 limit gave him 22 pounds, 8 ounces going into the final day.
"I quit it for five years to spend more time with my children," said Meyer, 47, a real estate agent here in Redding. "I was fishing full-time before that, but I only had one of my children left, and I built a house. It was just time to stay home and focus on the family for a while."
Meyer focused on the spotted bass in Lake Shasta on a day when the bluebird weather changed to clouds and some rain. The bass moved up into the shallows, and anglers who pitched jigs and worms, but also worked topwater lures, scored well.
"I threw six different baits," Meyer said. "I just kept judging conditions and threw accordingly. I'll tell you what, though, this feels good. I haven't been fishing at all for five years. I just bought a new boat, and this was the debut tournament for it."
If he wins, Meyer will pick up the $50,000 winner's purse as well as 300 season points. The 15 boaters leading in the point standings after the season finale on Clear Lake will earn berths on the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Tour. The top 20 anglers will qualify for the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship, where the top five anglers will earn early berths in bass fishing's world championship, the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic, slated for July 29-31 in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Gutierrez, the Day One leader who also has local knowledge here, also threw jigs and worms, but didn't mess with the topwater action as most did. Gutierrez adjusted his darthead weights on the plastic worms depending on the depth at which he fished.
"I had a worm bite for much of the day," Gutierrez said. "I was casting them and then shaking the snot out of them. I fished the breaks in the rocks and the breaks in the mud for most of my fish."
Another Redding angler, Bill McLaughlin, took over the lead in the non-boater division with a 10-pound, 2-ounce limit, giving him 18 pounds, 3 ounces and an 8-ounce lead over Terry Arnold of Sacramento. It was a big week for McLaughlin. He and his son both filled their buck tags locally, and McLaughlin admitted he was dragging a bit from some long hours spent in the deer woods.
"I threw jigs part of the time and topwater the other," said McLaughlin, who works for a paving contractor in Redding. "I tried to do the opposite of what my pro was doing."
Bink Desaro of Boise, Idaho, no stranger to big bass, fought off aerator problems and caught the Purolator Big Bass of the day on the boater side, a husky 4-pound, 8-ounce spottie, and earned $1,000 for the catch. Desaro is scheduled to fish in next week's Busch Shootout for big-bass specialists at a mystery lake. Desaro said he missed the big bass the previous day, and the thought of losing it after seeing it kept him up Thursday night.
"I stayed with topwater most of the day and just kept hammering that bait," Desaro said. "I just put my head down and threw. I knew I'd only get bit five times with it, but I had to keep hammering it and getting the numbers of casts in to increase my chances."
Darrel Startin of Spokane, Wash., worked an off-white Zara Spook to land the Purolator Big Bass in the non-boater division. His catch, a 5-pound, 4-ounce spotted bass, represented a huge comeback for the Northwest angler. Startin went from catching the smallest bass on Day One, a 13-ouncer, to what so far is the heaviest bass of the tournament.
"I told people yesterday that if my bass would have died on the way to the weigh-in, I would have had a negative weight," Startin said, referring to the BASS penalties for dead fish.
Startin's fishing partner, boater Charles Michnevich, said he saw birds working and went to the spot. Michnevich lost a big bass on his first cast, and the two caught a few before moving to another spot. When they returned, Startin's first cast found the monster spottie, and Startin was $400 richer and could earn another $1,000 if the bass holds up as the heaviest of the tournament.
Eric Parra of Sacramento made the biggest move of the day, sacking five bass totaling 12 pounds, 11 ounces to climb from 45th into third with 20 pounds, 10 ounces.
Birmingham's Aaron Martens, certainly a pre-tournament favorite based on his past performances here at Shasta, said he found a spot that could produce a 15- to 16-pound limit.
"I only fished it a few hours late in the day, so I'm looking forward to getting back there tomorrow," said Martens, who is in 32nd place with 16 pounds, 15 ounces. He wasn't surprised that Parra made such a big move.
"There are places that will produce big fish like that, and that will be the difference," Martens.
Saturday's weigh-in will begin at 3:30 p.m. and the launch will be at 7:15 a.m. at Bridge Bay Marina. Both are free to the public.
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 Northern Open include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Toyota, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, and Bass Pro Shops.
Local Sponsors include Shasta Lake Chamber of Commerce and Phil's Propellers.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.
Source: bassmaster.com (2004-10-22)