UPCOMING EVENT: FLW Pro Circuit - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Dobyns’ near 25 pounds tops pros at Clear Lake

Dobyns’ near 25 pounds tops pros at Clear Lake
Gary Dobyns of Yuba City, Calif., led all pros with a nasty limit weighing 24 pounds, 14 ounces, including this 9-5 kicker largemouth that won the Big Bass award.

Co-angler Gaunt leads co-anglers with 23 1/2 pounds; Wickham lands a 10-pounder

CLEARLAKE, Calif. - Any doubts that EverStart Series anglers might have had about the bass bite during this week's Western Division competition at California's Clear Lake can be buried now. Despite a numbing cold front and intermittent rain, over half of the Pro Division weighed in five-bass limits Wednesday (77 total), and they were big limits. Gary Dobyns of Yuba City, Calif., led all pros with his nasty limit weighing 24 pounds, 14 ounces, including a 9-5 kicker largemouth that won the Big Bass award.

Dobyns caught his fish early, and he caught them big. Fishing at his first location in the morning, Clear Lake surrendered the 9-pounder then another 5-pounder right away. It was then that Dobyns decided to lay off his prime fishing hole and he went elsewhere.

"I had (a limit) pretty quick," he said, "but I could have had it instantly if I wanted."

Dobyns, an EverStart rookie who has otherwise made a name for himself on various West Coast bass circuits, was understandably guarded about his bait and technique Wednesday. He admitted that he caught one fish on a spawning bed, but the rest came "anywhere from on top to 15 feet deep." In all, Dobyns estimated that he caught 20 to 25 keepers, plus he said he shook off a lot of fish to save them for later in the tournament.

"This is new for me, having to qualify (for the semifinals) and starting over with zero weight. I've never shaken a fish off in my life. There's just a whole lot more to (the EverStart tournament format)," he said. "Tomorrow - I'll tell you straight up - I'm not going to weigh a big bag of fish."

But neither Dobyns nor anyone else can rest on their laurels this week, no matter how much weight they've already accumulated. The pro leader was followed closely by second-place Bill Case of Orange, Calif., who weighed in a limit worth 24 pounds, 1 ounce.

"I caught 22 of my 24 pounds by 8 o'clock, and they came one fish after another. It was just one of those days," Case said, pointing out that he caught two 7-pounders in a row. He was mainly targeting staging bass in 8 to 10 feet of water. "You fish a million hours for a day like today. I was just blessed."

Jiggs Benn of Myrtle Creek, Ore., and Dave Nollar of Redlands, Calif., were also hot on Dobyns' tail. They tied for third place with a weight of 23 pounds, 12 ounces.

"I've been catching pretty close to that (weight) everyday," Nollar said. "As long as the weather stays bad, I should be able to keep it up."

Rounding out the top five pros was Gary Howell of Stockton, Calif., with a five-bass weight of 22 pounds, 10 ounces.

Overall, nine competitors caught over 20 pounds Wednesday, including two co-anglers. In the day's result's, you have to go as far down as 73rd place in the Pro Division place to find a stringer weighing less than 10 pounds. In addition to Dobyn's Big Bass, a co-angler weighed in single fish over 10 pounds (see below), plus a handful of other anglers weighed in 9-pounders. Countless 7- and 8-pounders came across the scale.

That means, despite the grumbling heard from some Clear Lake veterans about the waterway's lack of production in recent years and the cold front thwarting the spawn this week, it's all relative. If you want to win here, you still have to win huge.

"Honestly, I'm surprised I'm leading with 24 pounds," Dobyns said. "You never feel comfortable at Clear Lake no matter how much weight you have."

Gaunt gains co-angler lead with 23-8

Bernie Gaunt's five-bass catch of 23 pounds, 8 ounces would have put him into fifth place had he been fishing the Pro Division Wednesday. As it happened, however, the West Sacramento, Calif., native caught them from the back of the boat and had to settle for first place in the Co-angler Division.

Reese Randall of Payson, Ariz., was the other co-angler to catch over 20 pounds. His weight, 21-7, landed him in second place.

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Travis Walker of Davis, Calif., (third place) with five bass weighing 18 pounds; Jim Wickham of Morristown, Ariz. (fourth) with five bass weighing 17-6; and Jeff Dean of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. (fifth) with five bass weighing 15-9.

While an impressive 28 co-anglers caught limits Wednesday, it was Wickham's 10-pound, 5-ounce co-angler Big Bass that proved most astonishing. The monster was the biggest fish of a big-fish day.

Competition resumes at 6:30 a.m. Thursday as competitors take off from Redbud Park in Clearlake for the second half of opening-round competition. The top 20 anglers in both divisions following tomorrow's fishing will advance to Friday's semifinal round.

Click here for a preview of day two.

Day-one links:

Photos
Results
Tomorrow's pairings
Press release

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2003-04-23-clear-lake 

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