Costello out front at Clear Lake

Leader Chris Costello can't help but smile with two fish like these that comprised part of his 28-6 limit on day one of the EverStart Series Western Division event on Clear Lake.

LAKEPORT, Calif. - By many accounts, the opening round of the final EverStart Series Western Division event on Clear Lake was tough. Although, the word tough can all be relative. If you consider that out of the nearly 100 pros in the event only half brought in limits - then yeah, it was tough. On the flip side, there were 24 bags weighing over 20 pounds today including one belonging to leader Chris Costello who hauled in a whopping 28 pounds, 6 ounces. Unlike several of the competitors, Costello actually experienced a decent practice to start the week. "I have been down here for five days and practice was really good for me," said Costello. "The bad thing is it seems like the bite has been tapering off for me each day. I still had a great day and caught the weight that I figured I would." With the nighttime temperatures reaching down near the low 40s the better bite has taken place later on in the day. Costello knew this and kept to his game plan throughout the day. "I ran down to the south end," continued the Gilroy, Calif., resident. "I had several different areas that I was rotating through. The fish come up and feed for a short period of time and then go back down so it was all about timing. But the bite definitely gets better as the day warms up." While Costello started practice with around 15 rods, he has since narrowed the search down to just two baits. He remains confident that he can replicate his success again tomorrow. He went on to add that one thing helping him in this tournament is the lack of wind. It makes it much easier for him to run around during the day. Milligan in second Jason Milligan of Shasta Lake, Calif., takes the second spot with a 26-14 limit.Jason Milligan of Shasta Lake, Calif., got off to a great start by sacking 26 pounds, 14 ounces worth of Clear Lake bass to sit just a pound and half off of Costello. "My day started out real slow," said Milligan. "I was fishing offshore and my fish don't turn on until around 10:30. It was all timing for me today and I confirmed a lot of things including that those deeper fish don't bite until later." Milligan focused on eight different areas and burned a bunch of gas while bouncing between them. He only had eight bites all day and caught his fish on either a deep swimbait, Megabass Deep-Six crankbait or a jig. "I eliminated a lot of things today and realized that tomorrow I need to change it up and fish shallow with a topwater until my deep fish start going." Krnaich third Mike Krnaich with four big Clear Lake bass that helped boost him to third with a five-bass total weight of 26-12.Sitting on the heels of Milligan is the Petaluma, Calif., native Mike Krnaich who wrangled an impressive 26 pounds, 12 ounces to capture third place. Krnaich is coming into this event with some momentum after winning a large tournament on Clear Lake just last weekend where with his partner they weighed nearly 53 pounds of bass in two days. "Last weekend my boat was having troubles with getting up on pad," said Krnaich. "I figured out that it was a fuel line problem and got it fixed last night so I was late entry for this tournament. "Then my day started off with me losing a 6-pounder at the boat. I also had a ton of company on my spot. I have to give credit to Gary Dobyns for the sportsmanship he showed by picking up and going around us when he saw me fishing that spot. It was a real grind until noon or so. Then I lost three monsters that I think could have brought me to around 30 pounds." Krnaich hit around 15 spots on the day and caught fish from most of them. "I just want to thank my wife Katie for giving me her blessing to come out here and try my luck again this weekend." Michels fourth Strike King Angler of the Year leader Jeff Michels nearly sealed the deal after whacking 26-5 on day one to sit in fourth. Coming into this tournament Michels figured he would need around 34 pounds for two days to wrap up the Strike King Angler of the Year title. He managed to put a good dent in that to start with a day-one limit weighing 26 pounds, 5 ounces to settle in fourth place. "Earlier in the week I thought about playing it safe to make sure I'd have a shot at the AOY title," said Michels. "But this morning I figured I might as well go try and catch some big ones. So I went and threw a big bait around early without any luck. I made a change to some down baits and caught a few fish so I went back to the big bait and caught that 8-pounder. "I think if I catch 8 pounds tomorrow I should be good in terms of the AOY. I'm going to try for the big bites again but I'll make sure to go catch 8 pounds before it gets too late in the day." Michels has several areas where he knows big fish live but is focusing on two key areas for fishing what he calls "down baits." Durling fifth Rounding out the fifth spot is Wade Durling of Santa Rosa, Calif., with a limit weighing 26 pounds even.Despite having a rough start to the day Wade Durling of Santa Rosa, Calif., caught 26 pounds even to salvage it and round out the top five. "I blew up my engine before I even made it to my first spot," said Durling. "I managed to stumble across a good group of fish on a dock while I was on my trolling motor. Then I made it to my starting spot, still on the trolling motor, and I already had probably 20 pounds. From there I waved another boat down to tow me in. Once I got everything taken care of I went back out and fished stuff I hadn't touched in over a year and caught my big fish." Because of how his day played out, Durling was forced to fish new water using techniques he hadn't originally planned to do. He plans on fishing the productive places he found in practice tomorrow, though he is concerned they might have been beat up today. Rest of the best Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Series event on Clear Lake after day one: 6th: Paul Bailey of Kelseyville, Calif., five bass, 25-2 6th: Jason Newby of Bakersfield, Calif., five bass, 25-2 8th: Charley Almassey of Oakley, Calif., five bass, 24-13. Almassey also landed the big bass of the day in the Pro Division weighing 9 pounds, 1 ounce. 9th: Travis Moran of Carmel, Calif., five bass, 24-3 10th: Jody Jordan of Vacaville, Calif., five bass, 23-12 Crine leads co-anglers Co-angler Richard Crine of Anaheim, Calif., leaped out front thanks to a 22-4 limit on day one.Richard Crine of Anaheim, Calif., leaped out to an early lead in the Co-angler Division after catching 22 pounds, 4 ounces on day one. "The day started off pretty good," said Crine. "The bite got slower as the day went on. But about 45 minutes before we had to be in we made a stop and Mike (Krnaich) threw at a big fish two times. After he tried I threw in there and caught her. Third time is a charm I guess." The big bass he caught at the end of the day took the big fish honors for day one as it weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces. "Today was a great day. It was the best weight I have ever had. And I want to thank my wife Tina for supporting me." Kevin Marcheschi of Santa Rosa, Calif., sits just behind Crine with a limit of bass weighing 22 pounds to put him in second place. Dante Ray of Sparks, Nev., is in third place with a limit of bass weighing 19 pounds, 6 ounces. Todd Kline of San Clemente, Calif., nets fourth place after catching four bass that weighed 17 pounds, 12 ounces. Rounding out the top-five co-anglers is Dan Cranston of Visalia, Calif., with five bass weighing 15 pounds, 4 ounces. Rest of the best Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers in the EverStart Series event on Clear Lake after day one: 6th: Gayle Janes of Bermuda Dunes, Calif., five bass, 15-2 7th: Keith Adams of Redding, Calif., five bass, 14-11 8th: Robert Schneider of Temecula, Calif., three bass, 14-5 9th: Brian Christian of Witter Springs, Calif., four bass, 14-2 10th: James Tate of Calabasas, Calif., three bass, 14-0 Anglers will take off from the Konocti Vista Casino Resort and Marina located at 2755 Mission Rancheria Road in Lakeport at 7:30 a.m. Weigh-in will be held at the Konocti Vista Casino Resort and Marina beginning at 3 p.m. Takeoff and weigh-in are free and open to the public.

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