UPCOMING EVENT: TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT - 2020 - Lake Erie

Lake unpleasant

Lake unpleasant
Pro Rudy Baldizan Jr. of Peoria, Ariz., caught a two-day total of seven bass weighing 17 pounds, 7 ounces to lead the first round of the $214,525 EverStart Series Western Division event on Lake Pleasant near Peoria, Ariz.

PEORIA, Ariz. - Despite nicer weather and the motivation to make the cut, the limit count dropped even further for anglers at Lake Pleasant Thursday as the opening round came to a close in EverStart Series Western Division competition. Clinging to the lead in the Pro Division was Wednesday's leader, Rudy Baldizan Jr., even though he caught just two keeper bass Thursday.

"Today was one of the toughest days that I have ever seen on this lake," said Baldizan, who hails from nearby Peoria. "When that cold front came through yesterday, these fish just shut down."

The pros tallied 38 five-bass limits Wednesday, but managed just 14 of them Thursday. That allowed Baldizan - who caught 12 pounds, 7 ounces on day one - to maintain his lead with just a 5-pound, two-fish catch today, which pushed his opening-round total to 17-7. The leader said he wasn't surprised by the lake's lack of productivity even though the sun shone all day and temperatures climbed toward 70 degrees.

"Usually, it takes two or three days after a cold front before these fish will bite again," he said. "But with the sunshine, you never know. I think it's going to be tough again tomorrow."

And that's just fine with Baldizan. The pro leader has fished exclusively for bigger Pleasant bass using a variety of techniques. He said that he caught his fish Thursday (including a nonkeeper) with three different baits, not the least of which was a Roboworm rigged on a drop-shot.

"That's what I'm going with for now," he laughed, "but that might not be entirely true."

Whatever he's doing, it's working under the difficult fishing conditions. He said he'll take a two-fish day that puts him in the lead any day.

"I prefer to fish when it's tough because then it's tough for everybody," he said. "I try to key on areas with fewer fish. If I see an area with 50 boats on it in practice, I'm not going to go near it. I pre-fished for bigger fish. I don't waste my time on the smaller fish, and that's probably why I struggled to catch (a limit) today."

Though he also only caught these two keepers Thursday, Marcus Clouse of Henderson, Nev., held onto second place for the pros with an opening-round weight of 16 pounds, 2 ounces.Clouse stays in second

Though he also only caught two keepers Thursday, Marcus Clouse of Henderson, Nev., held onto second place for the pros with an opening-round weight of 16 pounds, 2 ounces.

"I had my mind set on catching three fish," he said. "I got two nice ones, so I'm happy with that."

Clouse used RPM worms on a drop-shot and had seven bites, but he managed to land just two of them. Like many anglers, he fished deep water for the few hookups he had.

"It was about 45 feet, and I don't really know how many are left there," he laughed. "But whatever happens tomorrow happens. I honestly think they're moving up shallow now that the sun's out."

Young sticks Martin, Bennett claim third, fourth

Two enthusiastic young pros claimed the third and fourth spots in the Pro Division after the opening round at Lake Pleasant. Kevin Martin, 20, of El Cajon, Calif., moved up to third place with an opening-round total of 14 pounds, 1 ounces, and Michael Bennett, 19, of Roseville, Calif., slid into fourth with a weight of 14-0.

Martin, who made the 2003 EverStart Championship, started the day shallow using Reaction baits to hook into his first couple of bass, then moved out deeper and went to the trusty drop-shot armed with SR plastics and Mega-strike scent, which he said made all the difference.

"Definitely," he said about the fish-attraction juice. "Both of my co-anglers blanked the first two days even though I gave them some worms to use, but they didn't use the scent.

"I'm really stoked that I finally made the cut. I can't wait until tomorrow."

Bennett, who made a name for himself in 2002 as the youngest angler ever to compete in the BFL All-American (at age 17), discovered that less is more at Lake Pleasant this week.

"When I researched this lake, I found that everyone runs up the rivers," he said. "So I stayed on the main lake to avoid the crowds. The first day, I had one or two other boats around. Today there were none. I think I'm going to stay there for a while."

Folkestad fifth

Western Division standout Mike Folkestad claimed the fifth spot with a two-day total of 13 pounds, 15 ounces. Last year, the pro from Yorba Linda, Calif., placed second in EverStart competition at Lake Mead.

Harry Jioras of Cape Fair, Mo., earned $500 as the big-bass award winner in the Pro Division, thanks to this 4-pound, 2-ounce bass.Rounding out the top 10 pros after day two are David Peltier of Simi Valley, Calif., with an opening-round total of 13 pounds, 14 ounces (6th place); Jim Furr of Phoenix with 13-8 (7th); Art Berry of Ramona, Calif., with 13-8 (8th); Mike Bush of West Hills, Calif., with 13-3 (9th); and Paul Hodges of Glendale, Ariz., with 12-13 (10th). Bennett, Folkestad, Peltier and Berry recorded the only limits in the top 10.

Harry Jioras of Cape Fair, Mo., earned $500 as the Snickers Big Bass Award winner in the Pro Division, thanks to a 4-pound, 2-ounce bass.

Wells leads co-anglers

Ralph Wells of Castaic, Calif., led the Co-angler Division after the opening round by catching two consistent limits of bass both days. Building on his weight of 7 pounds, 11 ounces Wednesday, his sack weighing 6-14 Thursday pushed his total to 14-9 and first place.

Wells caught over 12 keepers each day on a productive spot he found in practice.

"The first day, I suggested it and my pro went to the spot," he said. "The second day it just so happened that the guy went to the same spot."

Ralph Wells of Castaic, Calif., jumped from third place to take the lead in the Co-angler Division thanks to a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 14 pounds, 9 ounces.The co-angler leader caught his fish in deeper water on a drop-shot armed with what he called "a special worm from Northern California."

Asked about his prospects for Friday, Berry said: "If (my pro partner) is slow-fishing and drop-shotting, I've got just as good a chance as he does. Especially if we're on humps or rock piles, I've got a good shot."

Rounding out the top five co-anglers following the opening round are Steve Amata of Payson, Utah, with 13 pounds, 11 ounces (2nd place); Jeff Grant of La Mirada, Calif., with 12-10 (3rd); Tony Sarkis of Phoenix with 11-4 (4th); and Mark Meddock of Woodland, Calif., with 11-3.

Manny Ramirez of Huntington Beach, Calif., claimed co-angler big-bass honors with a 3-pound, 12-ounce bass that earned him $200.

Day three of Western Division competition at Lake Pleasant begins as the semifinal-round field of 20 boats takes off from Pleasant Harbor Marina at 7 a.m. Mountain time. Anglers' weights are reset to zero for Friday, and both fields will be cut to the top 10 anglers apiece for Saturday's finals based on tomorrow's weight.

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2004-01-28-lake-pleasant 

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