UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

Bolivar crushes at Clear Lake with 29-1

Bolivar crushes at Clear Lake with 29-1
Pro Gabe Bolivar of Ramona, Calif., caught a five-bass limit Wednesday on Clear Lake that weighed 29 pounds, 1 ounce to take a 4-pound, 15-ounce lead on opening day of the four-day EverStart Series Western Division event at Clear Lake.

CLEARLAKE, Calif. - For much of the first day's weigh-in at EverStart Series Western Division competition on Clear Lake, nobody could crack 20 pounds even though many anglers brought in five-bass limits. Some began to wonder if the vaunted Northern California bass fishery was somehow going to disappoint its big-bass fans.

Well, guess again.

Later in the day, Gabe Bolivar of Ramona, Calif., climbed the stage carrying a sack of five bass weighing an enormous 29 pounds, 1 ounce. Anchored by not just one - but two - Florida-strain largemouths weighing 8-11 and 8-14 each, his limit outdistanced the second-best catch of the day by nearly 5 pounds. Not only did Bolivar's sack lead the Pro Division Wednesday, it approached Rick Gunter's EverStart single-day weight record of 30-5 (set at Lake Okeechobee in 2000).

"Dude, it feels awesome," Bolivar said. "That's so cool."

Temperatures never broke the 60-degree mark Wednesday, with clouds, drizzle and wind playing prominent roles in the fishing action at Clear Lake."Cool" was an apt description of the fishing at Clear Lake Wednesday. Temperatures never broke the 60-degree mark, with clouds, drizzle and wind playing prominent roles in the action. Anglers were hoping to key on a big sight-fishing bite this week, but a cold front over the last couple of days has kept a good number of the bigger bass off the beds and left many competitors scratching their heads.

Still, this is Clear Lake, so it wasn't exactly like there was a dearth of fish to be caught. Out of 152 boats, the pros brought in 113 limits and the co-anglers had 78. In the end, however, just three pros cracked the 20-pound mark, and the key to doing that was cracking into a few of the lake's supply of 7- and 8-pound bass.

"I caught a few sight fish and a few by blind-casting," Bolivar said, adding that he caught one of his 8-pounders in the shallows and the other in deeper water on a tule bank. "A lot of my sight fish, they're just cruisers. They're not locked up on the beds. With these blind fish, catching the big ones is just kind of lucky. In the area that I'm fishing, there are a lot of fish in the 7- to 12-pound range just swimming around."

So, as expected, the big ones are there and they're even up shallow. The main problem to catching them, though, is the wind, which roughed up the shallow water and decreased visibility in many areas.

"I don't mind the clouds or the rain, I just don't want it to get too windy," Bolivar said. "Tomorrow, if it gets much worse than it was today, it will be really tough."

But, again, "tough" is a relative term at Clear Lake. Bolivar caught "about 10" keepers en route to his 29-pound sack on day one but said that he could have had more weight if only he could have effectively fished his primary sight-fishing holes from practice.

"The only thing was the bad weather," he said. "If I could have seen those fish, I would have had a huge sack."

The second-heaviest sack of the day came from Brent Ehrler, who caught a limit weighing 24 pounds, 2 ounces.Ehrler rides again

The second-heaviest sack of the day came from Brent Ehrler, who caught a limit weighing 24 pounds, 2 ounces. In second place, the pro from Redlands, Calif., is in a familiar position, having finished a close second at Lake Havasu last month.

"It feels awesome. It's just one of those things. Every morning I wake up and I don't know if this will be the day that I catch them or not. I can't complain; I've just been catching them," Ehrler said.

More often than not, Ehrler does catch them. He finished in third place at Clear Lake last year and eventually won the Western Division standings title in the circuit's inaugural season. After two tournaments this season, he's ranked sixth.

Wednesday, however, started slowly for the reigning points champ. Fishing a drop-shot as well as some Texas-rigged worms, he didn't have a limit until 11:30 a.m. But the floodgates opened to his eventual 24-pound stringer when he landed two kicker largemouths weighing 7-14 apiece late in the afternoon.

"Those two were within 20 yards of each other," he said. "I was mainly just pitching and flipping around the tules."

Bailey third, Wick fourth

Shaun Bailey of Agoura, Calif., placed third in the Pro Division with the third limit over 20 pounds. He caught five bass weighing 21-4.

Pro Ken Wick of Star, Idaho, placed fourth with a limit weighing 19 pounds, 15 ounces.

"I was drop-shotting," Wick said. "I used spinnerbaits this morning and tagged a few, then I went deeper. The fishing is tough. That front came in and the fish just dropped off to a little deeper water."

David Gliebe of Stockton, Calif., placed fifth for the pros with a limit weighing 19 pounds, 4 ounces, but it was this 9-8 kicker largemouth that turned heads Wednesday.Gliebe fifth, lands monster

David Gliebe of Stockton, Calif., placed fifth for the pros with a limit weighing 19 pounds, 4 ounces, but it was his kicker bass that turned heads Wednesday. A handful of fish in the 8-pound range vied for big-bass honors, but Gliebe crushed them all with a huge 9-8 largemouth. He collected $500 for biggest fish of the day.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros after day one at Clear Lake are Paul Hodges of Glendale, Ariz., with a weight of 18 pounds, 15 ounces (6th place); Wayne Breazeale of Kelseyville, Calif., with 17-6 (7th); Rob Wenning of Sparks, Nev., with 17-2 (8th); Sean Minderman of Post Falls, Idaho, with 17-0 (9th); and Brian Barthman of Eureka, Calif., with 16-14 (10th).

All 10 of the top pros caught limits.

Brian Mlekush of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., leads the Co-angler Division after day one with a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 4 ounces. He also claimed co-angler big-bass honors Wednesday with this nice 8-pound, 1-ounce bass.Mlekush leads co-anglers with almost 20 pounds

Brian Mlekush of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., leads the Co-angler Division after day one with a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 4 ounces. He also claimed co-angler big-bass honors Wednesday and $200 with a nice 8-pound, 1-ounce bass.

Dan Powers of Weaverville, Calif., placed second with 17 pounds, 12 ounces.

Co-angler Pat Wilson of Petaluma, Calif., followed in third place with 17 pounds, 2 ounces; and Gary Haraguchi of Antioch, Calif., placed fourth with 14-10.

In a three-way tie for fifth place are John Morla of Ione, Calif., Chuck Holland of Wickenburg, Ariz., and Gabriel Naranjo of Parker, Calif. All three co-anglers caught 13 pounds, 14 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers after day one at Clear Lake are Earl Dalton of Jackson, Calif., with 13 pounds, 6 ounces (8th place); Greig Sniffen of Campbell, Calif., with 13-6 (also 8th); and Richard Vizcarra of Peoria, Ariz., with 13-4 (10th).

All of the top 10 co-anglers also caught limits.

Day two of Western Division competition at Clear Lake begins as the full field of 152 boats takes off from Redbud Park at 7 a.m. Pacific time Thursday for the second half of the opening round. Following tomorrow's action, both fields will be cut to the top 20 anglers apiece based on two-day total weight.

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2004-04-14-clear-lake 

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