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Clear Lake showdown

Clear Lake showdown
EverStart Western Division finalists stand for the national anthem before taking off for one last shot at Clear Lake.

CLEAR LAKE, Calif. - By simple numerical order, every tournament's final day sees some level of mathematical advantage for those at the upper end of the standings. For today's EverStart Series Western Division finale, five pounds and 12 ounces separates first place from tenth and that's not much on the fish factory we know as Clear Lake.

With the past two days producing 54 sacks of 20-plus pounds, big fish up to 10 and more 5-pounders than anyone cared to count, a well-founded mix of optimism and eagerness circulated among the top-10 field. Is there a chance that after a week of practice and two days of hard tournament pressure the fishery may be fished out? There's always a chance. But this is Clear Lake and there's simply no lack of fish.

The past two days have seen nearly cloudless skies, light breezes and stifling heat. Today may see slightly more rippling in the flags and scattered clouds gaining more organization. However, today's weather brings no dramatic changes, so the patterns that have worked for the past two days will likely produce for one last round.

Leading the pro field is Michael C. Tuck, of Granite Bay, Calif., who starts the day with 48-13. TuckPro leader Michael C. Tuck will devote his entire day to slinging a Trashfish swimbait. has been targeting the massive pods of baitfish falling out of Rodman Slough at the lake's upper end. Big bass are massing near this food source and Tuck will spend his entire day slinging a Trashfish swimbait into the feeding zone.

"I'm excited to go fishing; it's going to be a fun day," Tuck said. "I'm on something very special. I'm going to catch everything that bites and I'll get to fish for them all day. If it's enough, it's enough."

The spot he's fishing lacks not for quantity, but a 29-pound bag in practice told him that quality fish also patrol this area. Working through the numbers will be the key to sealing the deal, he said.

"I should have 25 pounds if I just catch the ones I've been catching," Tuck said. "It's just a matter of balance beaming - 4.70, 4.80, 4.90 until you get (a 5-fish limit) around 24 or 25 pounds."

Trailing the lead a pound and 12 ounces, Joe Uribe Jr. knows he has to boat whatever he hooks today. The first two days saw him lose good fish, including a day-two stud that broke 35-pound braid.

Starting the day in second place, Joe Uribe Jr will mix up his presentations between a Horny Toad and a Phenix chatterbait."To win this deal, everything just has to go right and I have to fish flawlessly," he said.

Uribe has been catching fish during a morning bite on Zara Spooks and a Phenix Vibrator chatterbait. His middays have been slow, but hollow body frogs have produced well during an afternoon bite. Today, he'll throw a Zoom Horny Toad.

"The fish I'm targeting are schooling fish and they get smart so I have to change it up," Uribe said.

A mere 8 ounces separates Uribe and third-place pro Ken Mah, who intends to split his day between topwaters and flipping. Mah believes the latter will produce the consistent numbers, but tugging a propbait across the surface could deliver the homerun he needs.

"The flipping is a pattern I'm relying on," he said. "I feel like it's something I can win with, I just have to get the right bites and put them in the boat. With the overcast skies today, I'm going to start on the bank and throw a big topwater bait and a swimbait and try to catch one or two big ones of 6 pounds orKen May intends to give this old-school prop bait a good workout. better.

"When I have the flipping stick in my hand I feel like I can catch them on every pitch. Even though I think I can win on a flipping stick, if I have (a limit) in the low 20's, I'll pull out the big baits and swing. You have to fish for that one (big) fish. I'll go the last two hours and sling a big bait. If I catch a big fish - great. If I don't, I can concede with at least I was trying to win."

Charley Almassey starts the day in fourth place. He's been working a group of fish over sparse grass in the middle of a small bay. Chatterbaits, ripbaits and crankbaits will be his weapons of choice.

In fifth place, Mark Daniels Jr. said he expects a good swimbait bite, but he'll feel most confident with a flipping rod in his hand. He'll be using a Sweet Beaver with a punch skirt and a 1-ounce weight.

Logistics

A crankbait and a ripbait will factor prominently into Charley AlmasseyWeigh-ins will also be held at the marina beginning at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Pros will fish for a top award of $35,000 plus a 198VX Ranger boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger 177TR with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.

The EverStart Series consists of five divisions - Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Strike King Angler of the Year title along with $5,000 for the pro and $2,000 for the co-angler. The top 40 pros and co-anglers from each respective division will qualify for the EverStart Series Championship that will be held on Kentucky Lake in Buchanan, Tenn., Oct. 27-30.

The EverStart Series tournament on Clear Lake is being hosted by Twin Pine Casino & Hotel.Fifth-place Mark Daniels Jr plans on flipping most of his day.

Saturday's conditions:

Sunrise: 7:00 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 60 degrees
Expected high temperature: 84 degrees
Wind: WNW 5-10 mph
Humidity: 25 percent
Day's outlook: Mostly sunny

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2011-09-22-clear-lake 

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