UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Clearly fun

Clearly fun
EverStart co-angler John Kort catches a 2 1/2-pound largemouth shortly after Wednesday's takeoff at Clear Lake. Pro Phil Strader is on the net.

CLEARLAKE, Calif. - EverStart Series Western Division anglers have it pretty good. Fresh off a spawning-bass bonanza under the sun at Arizona's Lake Havasu last month, the Western Division dropped into California's Clear Lake early Wednesday morning where anglers get to enjoy the crisp, clean air of wine country as well as the bounty of big, bad Florida-strain largemouth bass that inhabit this natural waterway in the hills.

Exactly 152 boats took off onto Clear Lake in the hunt for the big payout, which comes at the end of the week. If history is any indication, anglers will need to land enormous sacks of fish this week to vie for the top prize. Last year in April, 25-pound limits claimed the daily pro leads at Clear Lake, some containing 8-, 9- and even 10-pound bass.

Knowing that, perhaps some of the Western pros are a little spoiled when it comes to bass fishing at this remarkable waterway. Fishing not far from the takeoff point at Redbud Park in Clearlake, pro Phil Strader of Glide, Ore., and co-angler John Kort of Roseville, Calif., each already had two keepers in their livewells by 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Asked how big his last catch was, Strader said, "It's just a 3-pounder."

With that perspective, one can only assume that the anglers have been hooking some sizeable fish in practice and that they're in for another big-bass tournament. Expect nothing less at Clear Lake this time of year.

Day-one weigh-in festivities begin at 3 p.m. Pacific time at Redbud Park in Clearlake. Thursday's weigh-in will also be held at the park beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday's weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 15960 Dam Road in Clearlake beginning at 4 p.m.

The full field will compete for two days to determine the top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers who will advance to Friday's semifinal round based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for the semifinal round, and anglers compete for one day to determine who will advance to Saturday's final round. Only the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers compete Saturday, and the winner is determined by the heaviest two-day weight.

The winning pro is guaranteed $8,500 cash plus an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger 519 VS equipped with Garmin electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart Batteries, based on a 150-boat field. If the winner is the original owner of a Ranger boat, he will receive a $10,000 bonus from Ranger for a top pro award worth $60,400. If he is a qualifying participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program, Ranger will award another $3,000 cash (or $1,500 to the highest-finishing Ranger Cup participant if not the winner), and Yamaha will match 50 percent of Ranger Cup winnings if the angler's boat is powered by a Yamaha outboard. Garmin will award the winning pro $1,000 if he uses only Garmin electronics and at least one unit is a qualifying unit.

The winning co-angler is guaranteed $4,500 cash based on a 150-boat field, and if he is a Ranger boat owner, Ranger will award him a new Ranger 519 VS for a total prize package worth $34,500. Co-anglers who make the final round of each regular-season EverStart Series event and wear an EverStart/Evinrude shirt and cap on stage are awarded points toward the EverStart Batteries and Evinrude Outboard Engines Co-angler Award. The co-angler receiving the most points by the end of the season receives a 2004 Evinrude 225HO Direct Injection outboard engine rigged on a Ranger boat equipped with a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart batteries.

Wednesday's conditions:

Sunrise: 6:34 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 45 degrees
Expected high temperature: 60 degrees
Wind: from the south-southwest at 14 mph
Maximum humidity: 61 percent
Day's outlook: afternoon showers

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

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