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Lambert wins TBF Western at Havasu

Lambert wins TBF Western at Havasu
Chris Lambert won the TBF Western Divisional on Lake Havasu with a three-day total of 41 pounds, 15 ounces.

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. - The top two spots on the leaderboard remained unchanged on the final day of The Bass Federation Western Divisional on Lake Havasu, as Team Washington's Chris Lambert of Olympia, Wash., rode a 41-pound, 15-ounce three-day catch to a boater slot in the 2009 TBF National Championship. Behind him on the overall leaderboard is fellow Washington teammate David Kromm, whose 39-pound, 10-ounce weight advances him to the nationals as a co-angler.

Lambert defeated competitors from eight states - Washington, California, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Montana - each of which sends two competitors to the nationals. The No. 1 contender from each state advances to the national championship as a boater, while the No. 2 finisher from each of the eight competing states advances as a co-angler.

Thanks to a successful prefishing effort, Lambert performed well all week, ending day one second on the overall list and first in his state and then leading overall on days two and three. By finishing on top, Lambert also earned a $500 Wal-Mart gift card as the Castrol Maximum Performer.

Lambert goes to backup plan

Lambert caught 15 pounds, 4 ounces on day one and followed that up yesterday with another 16 pounds, 6 ounces, but he brought in only 10-5 today after the wind blew him out of his primary areas.

"Today I actually wasn't even able to fish my water," Lambert said of the prime spots he found in practice that served him so well the first two days. "I started there, but the wind was blowing so badly that I think it blew the fish out of the area - they weren't biting like they should have been."

Luckily for Lambert, he had a backup plan - some smallmouths he'd found up the river that he saved in case day three got tough. Lambert figured his 10-5 would be enough, and he was right.

Pictured here are the TBF National Championship qualifiers from the Western Divisional."It was structure on the outside of the spawning base," he said of the honeyholes he found in practice. "I was catching fish coming in and going out with a drop-shot. I caught the majority of my fish on Roboworms, and I caught one of my biggest fish on one of the new Berkley Hollow Belly swimbaits."

This is Lambert's second trip to the nationals, having qualified for the national championship his first time trying. He's fished several divisionals since then without advancing and is glad to be back in the game, particularly since he had to defeat a powerhouse contingent of Washington anglers to make it as a boater.

"I came here pretty much knowing that as good as our team was, if I wanted to go to the nationals as a boater, I'd have to win the tournament, so that's what I prefished to do," he said. "I didn't want to play it safe because I knew our team was too good."

Joining Lambert at the nationals is Kromm, who advances as Washington's co-angler representative with a three-day total weight of 39 pounds, 10 ounces that had him second on the overall weight list for the second consecutive day.

Bertrand junks his way to Arizona title

Josh Bertrand ended up third on the overall list and first on the Arizona team with his three-day catch of 37 pounds, 3 ounces.Finishing third on the overall list and first on the Arizona team is Josh Bertrand of Mesa, Ariz., with a three-day weight of 37 pounds, 3 ounces. He advances to the national championship as a boater after competing in this week's divisional as a boater. Representing Arizona at the 2009 national championship as a co-angler will be David Martinez, who finished second in his state with a three-day total of 36 pounds.

"I used kind of a junk-fishing technique," Bertrand said of his methods. "I had a couple areas that I milked very thoroughly, and I used a lot of different techniques to catch them. My top (technique) was probably drop-shotting a Roboworm."

Bertrand fished the main lake today despite blowing winds that made boat control a challenge, to say the least.

"I don't think it hurt me," Bertrand said of the weather. "It may have even helped me; that's kind of how fishing is. I had to change techniques because it made the fish more aggressive. It was harder to control the boat."

Bertrand does hail from the tournament host state but doesn't consider Havasu his home lake, though he does have experience here, living only a couple hours from its shores. Nevertheless, what he figured out in practice wound up not helping much.

"My prefishing was completely useless by the end of the tournament," he said. "I caught my fish on totally new stuff by the time the tournament started."

Lindner hangs on to California lead

Troy Lindner topped the California team with a three-day weight of 36-15.Winning the California title is a TBF rookie with a well-known fishing pedigree - Troy Lindner of Los Angeles, who caught 36 pounds, 15 ounces over three days to advance to his first TBF National Championship as a boater.

"I had a limit by 9 a.m.," Lindner said of the final day. "I was fishing up in the river, using a Berkley Power Tube and a Berkley Chigger Craw on Berkley fluorocarbon, 8-pound-test. That's what I was throwing all three days."

Even though the wind may have blown some guys out of the main lake today, Lindner said his spot in the river didn't get too crowded, leaving all the more fish for him to catch.

"It was better than the second day; I just didn't get a big bite like I had the first day," Lindner said of day three. "Today was all just fishing bays and points and habitat, wood specifically. These fish were probably pre- and postspawn."

Also advancing to the nationals from California is John Albidrez, who advances as a co-angler thanks to his three-day weight of 33 pounds, 8 ounces, good for second in California.

Debrucque tops in Utah

A Colorado angler tops the Utah list, as Joe Debrucque of Grand Junction, Colo., led the Utah contingency with a three-day weight of 35 pounds, 10 ounces to advance to the nationals as a boater. Behind him in second is Robert Knight of Salt Lake City, who will compete in next year's TBF National Championship as a co-angler thanks to his three-day weight of 28 pounds, 11 ounces.

Debrucque was fishing as a boater and shared some space with a fellow championship contender, Troy Lindner.

"On day one I junk-fished through the lake and was having a little bit of a time getting better fish, so we ran in the river and started flipping a jig," Debrucque said. "I was fishing deep-current tules on day one, and day two and day three were 100 percent jig fish, 1 to 4 feet deep. We fished main-river current both days."

Debrucque said his nonboaters caught some pretty good sacks, in addition to himself and the good company he was in, so his area is pretty much exhausted at this point.

"I came down here basically a week ahead of time, and it gave me some backup fish that I really did end up needing," he said.

Palaniuk qualifies for back-to-back championships

Brandon Palaniuk qualified for his second consecutive TBF National Championship by finishing first on the Idaho team with 35-8 over three days.At last year's Western Divisional on Potholes Reservoir, Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, finished second in his state to advance to this year's TBF National Championship as a co-angler. At this week's Western Divisional, Palaniuk led the Idaho contingency to once again qualify for the nationals, this time as a boater. Palaniuk caught 35 pounds, 8 ounces of bass this week to edge past No. 2 Idaho contender Brandon Craner, who caught 31-12 to advance to the 2009 nationals as a co-angler.

"I burned a lot of gas," Palaniuk said of his state-winning strategy. "I was mostly fishing the backwaters up the Colorado River, pitching Sweet Beavers, Johnson jigs and Yamamoto Senkos."

Competing as a boater, Palaniuk had six days of practice that he says helped him find places up the river that held quality bass. That turned out to be key, as the wind made fishing the main lake quite a challenge the past couple of days.

"(The weather) didn't affect me too much because I was fishing mostly up the river, and the backwaters are more protected than the main lake," he said, adding that he also relied on baits from axtackle.com.

Of the repeat qualification, Palaniuk is quite proud of his accomplishment.

"I'm very excited," he said. "I made it last year as a nonboater, and my goal was just to make it to the nationals as a boater this year."

Rest of the best

Mike Bozner took first on the Wyoming team to advance to the TBF National Championship in 2009 as a boater.Qualifying as a boater from Colorado is Samuel Heckman of Fountain, Colo., with a three-day catch of 33 pounds, 3 ounces. Advancing as a co-angler from Colorado is Matt Massey of Lakewood, Colo., with 32 pounds, 8 ounces over three days.

Tops in Wyoming is Mike Bozner of Rock Springs, Wyo., with 31 pounds, 1 ounce of bass caught over three days. He took the Wyoming boater slot, with the co-angler slot going to No. 2 Eric Lippincott of Daniel, Wyo., with a combined weight of 29-10.

Winning the Montana competition and advancing to the nationals as a boater from that state is Sean Andrachick of Marion, Mont., who caught 28-7 over three days. Behind him in second and filling the Montana co-angler slot is Don Collins of Kalispell, Mont., with a three-day weight of 23-14.

Washington wins state competition

Shown here are the members of the Washington team, which won the overall contest among the states at the Western Divisional.With cash prizes awarded to the top three states, competition among the eight states was fierce, and Washington took the overall win with 353 pounds, 5 ounces of bass caught by its team members over the tournament's three days. California trailed them in second with 313-2, and Colorado ended up third with a total weight of 265-4.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  headline-story  2008-04-09-lake-havasu 

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