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

Kolender captures lead at Clear Lake

Kolender captures lead at Clear Lake
San Diego?s Dennis Kolender led all anglers in the Pro Division of EverStart Series Central Division semifinal-round competition Friday with a five-bass weight of 23 pounds, 13 ounces.

Gaunt tops co-anglers for a second time

CLEARLAKE, Calif. - Battling temperatures that barely broke 50 degrees and gusting winds - not to mention the rain - San Diego's Dennis Kolender led all anglers in the Pro Division of EverStart Series Central Division semifinal-round competition Friday with a five-bass weight of 23 pounds, 13 ounces.

He topped Bill Case of Orange, Calif., who returned to the runner-up spot with a limit weighing 23 pounds, 1 ounce. Case also placed second Wednesday.

"I guess every day I've just been going out fishing," Kolender said. "I went pre-fishing and was just trying to stay warm."

The shifty wind, which picked up speed as the day wore on, blew the pro leader out of his first fishing hole early in the day. But no matter. At Clear Lake, it seems, for every location that goes bad due to conditions, there are five more spots that are just as good or better.

"This place is loaded with big fish," said Kolender, who said he moved around to about four or five different spots in the lower end of the lake Friday. He mainly used the drop-shot armed with a watermelon-pepper Tiki Stick to hook his quarry and had his limit by 11 o'clock. "It's pretty awesome."

The 39-year-old Kolender, who is fishing his first EverStart event, won the points title in the Wal-Mart BFL's Colorado River Division in 2001. While he was glad to grab the lead and make the cut, he said Friday was kind of a struggle. It wasn't just the relentless weather that was physically draining, it was the knowledge that a 20-pound sack of fish isn't automatic at a place like Clear Lake.

And, as he put it, "You don't have 24 pounds in the boat until you catch it."

Case caught his limit also by drop-shotting with 6-inch Robo worms. The weather pushed him around, too, but he still managed to catch his limit by 9 a.m. before the wind picked up.

"It was nasty, wet and cold," Case said. "I don't mind the rain, it's the wind that kills me. If there's a high wind tomorrow, I'll be struggling."

Coming in third was pro Rusty Salewske of Alpine, Calif., with a five-bass weight of 21 pounds, 6 ounces. He's fishing Clear Lake for the first time this week, and, like most everyone, he found that the finicky weather is also moving the bass around lake.

"It's been really fun," Salewske said. "The weather's been a little tough on us, and the fish have changed on us every day."

Rounding out the top five pros in the semifinals are Larry Hopper of Tustin, Calif., who placed fourth with a limit weighing 21 pounds, 4 ounces, and local crowd favorite Wayne Breazeale of Kelseyville, Calif., who placed fifth with a limit weighing 19-11.

Rest of the best

Also qualifying for Saturday's final round in the Pro Division are opening-round leader Gary Dobyns of Yuba City, Calif., (sixth place) with five bass weighing 18 pounds, 10 ounces; Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., (seventh) with five bass weighing 17-3; Thanh Le of El Cajon, Calif., (eighth) with five bass weighing 16-2; Dub Lashot of Walterville, Ore., (ninth) with five bass weighing 15-6; and Luke Clausen of Veradale, Wash., (10th) with five bass weighing 14-15.

Gaunt grabs first again

Bernie Gaunt retook the lead in the Co-angler Division after semifinal-round action with a limit of bass weighing 16 pounds, 12 ounces. Gaunt also led the co-anglers on day one.

The co-angler from West Sacramento, Calif., is a regular at Clear Lake and has won team tournaments here before. Friday, he credited his pro partner, Dave Nollar of Redlands, Calif., against whom he has competed here before, but today worked with him in tandem.

"I've got to give credit to him," Gaunt said. "We fished together as a team, each of us working a different side of the tules."

Gaunt pointed out that the cold weather, which has been some 20 degrees below seasonal temperatures, and dirtier water in Clear Lake has really altered strategies this week.

"If you ask me if I'm drop-shotting or had monofilament line, I would say no way," he said. "That's how off this lake is right now. I'm using 10-pound fluorocarbon line. I'm still drop-shotting, but with small worms. And I'm catching some Senko fish."

Jed Christensen of Ogden, Utah, claimed the second co-angler spot in the semifinals with a five-bass weight of 13 pounds 14 ounces.

"It's been the best week of fishing I've ever had in my life," he said.

Rounding out the rest of the co-angler finalists are Ted Nguyen of Irvine, Calif., (third place) with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 12 ounces; Ron Chambers of Phoenix (fourth) with four bass weighing 13-11; Dennis Miller of Las Vegas (fifth) with three bass weighing 12-0; John Alimpic of Angwin, Nev., (sixth) with three bass weighing 11-15; opening-round leader Reese Randall of Payson, Ariz., (seventh) with five bass weighing 11-1; Jim Wickham of Morristown, Ariz., (eighth) with five bass weighing 10-11; Dale Merry of Phoenix (ninth) with four bass weighing 8-15; and Gary Collins of Moorpark, Calif., (10th) with five bass weighing 8-11.

Final round Saturday

Final-round action begins Saturday at 6:30 a.m. at Redbud Park in Clearlake. All competitors will restart the day with zero weight. The final weigh-in will also be held at the park beginning at 3 p.m.

The winning pro will take home a guaranteed cash award of $7,500 plus a new Ranger 519VS Comanche equipped with Garmin electronics and powered by an Evinrude or Yamaha outboard. If the winner is the original owner of a Ranger boat, he will receive an additional $10,000 cash bonus from Ranger for a total of $59,400 in cash and prizes. Ranger will also award an additional $3,000 to the winner if he is a Ranger Cup participant, and Garmin will award $1,000 to the winner if his boat is equipped with a fixed-mount Garmin Fishfinder or combination GPS/Sounder.

The winning co-angler is guaranteed $3,900 cash. If the winning co-angler is a registered Ranger owner, he will also receive a new Ranger 519VS Comanche for a total of $26,700 in cash and prizes.

Click here for a preview of day four.

Day-three links:

Photos
Results
Tomorrow's pairings
Press release

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

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