Baldizan bags lead at Pleasant - Major League Fishing

Baldizan bags lead at Pleasant

Tops EverStart Western pros with over 12 pounds on day one
Image for Baldizan bags lead at Pleasant
Pro Rudy Baldizan Jr. of Peoria, Ariz., caught five bass weighing 12 pounds, 7 ounces to lead the $214,525 EverStart Series Western Division event on Lake Pleasant near Peoria, Ariz. Photo by Jeff Schroeder. Angler: Rudy Baldizan Jr.
January 28, 2004 • Jeff Schroeder • Archives

PEORIA, Ariz. – While they brought in a relatively healthy number of limits, EverStart Series anglers are fishing in a tournament at Arizona’s Lake Pleasant that is a far cry from what they will experience when the Western Division makes its way over to the big-bass waters of California later in the season. Local Rudy Baldizan Jr. led the opening day in the Pro Division with a modest five-bass weight of 12 pounds, 7 ounces.

“I’m happy because I practiced for this quite a bit,” the Peoria, Ariz., native said. “I found a few fish on this one spot. I only got five bites, but they were five good fish. So I’m happy about that.”

The pros weighed in a total of 38 five-bass limits Wednesday, but they were all well-earned. A cold weather front moved into the area this week and has stifled the bass bite, which is supposed to be in a prespawn stage. Add to that the tricky prospect of reservoir fishing and you have a recipe for smaller sacks of fish.

“My guess is that the fish are staging right now. The bigger fish are either staging or are grouped up,” Baldizan said. “Plus, the water’s coming up, and that’s why they’re difficult to catch. But I think that could change after the cold front moves through.”

The leader caught the bulk of his fish using a finesse worm on a drop-shot rig. Like many anglers atop the leaderboard, Baldizan focused his energy on mining the depths of Lake Pleasant for bigger bass.

“They came on a deeper bite,” he said, adding that he caught them in anywhere from 20 to 30 feet of water.

Baldizan plans to do the same thing Thursday as he did today, but he’s not holding his breath for another division-leading stringer.

“That’s what’s hard on this lake,” he said. “You can catch a ton of fish on one spot and the next day not catch a thing there.”

Pro Marcus Clouse of Henderson, Nev., came through with a limit weighing 11 pounds even and placed second for the pros on day one.Clouse rallies for second

Marcus Clouse of Henderson, Nev., came through with a limit weighing 11 pounds even and placed second for the pros on day one after having an extremely frustrating practice session on Pleasant.

“I have fished this lake for 14 years, and this is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” he said. “I had just one bite the entire time I pre-fished. It was on the last day before the tournament started. I got one bite at 12 o’clock.”

It was a lucky bite, but Clouse returned to the same spot Wednesday and was surprised to land himself a limit by 8:30 a.m. Fishing a drop-shot at about 50 feet, he caught seven keepers.

“There are a lot of fish there, I guess,” he said. “There are a lot of boats there and a lot of fish being caught. But the spot I’m on is holding the bigger fish, I guess.”

Yamamoto still rolling

Derek Yamamoto of Mesa, Ariz., fresh off his runner-up finish in co-angler competition at the Wal-Mart FLW Tour event at Lake Okeechobee last week, stayed hot and claimed third place on the pro side on opening day at Pleasant with a five-bass weight of 10 pounds, 3 ounces.

“My lucky ponytail is working, I guess,” he said.

Yamamoto, who is also working a drop-shot in deep water, only caught five keepers Wednesday, and he had to do a lot of running around to do it.

“I caught just one fish in each spot I went to,” he said. “It got to the point that (my co-angler and I) were joking that, once we catch that first fish, we should move on. We were just trying a bunch of different stuff today.”

Hodges fourth, Bush fifth

After the top three, nobody else broke double-digits in weight. Paul Hodges of Glendale, Ariz., claimed fourth place with a limit weighing 8 pounds, 15 ounces, and Mike Bush of West Hills, Calif., took fifth with a limit weighing 8-10.

Rounding out the top 10 pros after day one are Kevin Martin of El Cajon, Calif., with four bass weighing 8 pounds, 5 ounces (6th place); Joe Conway of Security, Colo., with five bass weighing 8-2 (7th); Jim Furr of Phoenix with five bass weighing 7-11 (8th); Mike Folkestad of Yorba Linda, Calif., with five bass weighing 7-10 (9th); and Michael Bennett of Roseville, Calif., with five bass weighing 7-6 (10th).

Day oneThe big-bass winner was Art Berry of Ramona, Calif., who collected $500 for a 4-pound, 11-ounce largemouth. Berry has been strong in EverStart competition at Lake Pleasant. In 2003 he led the Pro Division the first three days but finished second when Phoenix’s Brett Hite edged him out for the title in the finals.

Williams leads co-anglers

Paul Williams of Cypress, Calif., led the Co-angler Division with a limit weighing 9 pounds, 3 ounces, which was a relatively stout showing from the back of the boat at Pleasant Wednesday.

Paul Williams of Cypress, Calif., leads the Co-angler Division thanks to a five bass limit weighing 9 pounds, 3 ounces.“It’s excellent. I’m ecstatic,” said Williams, who fished with pro Marc Knudsen of Boulder City, Nev., and used a drop-shot to catch his limit by 1:30 p.m. “He put me on some good fish, and I had a special technique that seems to be working.”

John Morla of Ione, Calif., placed second with five bass weighing 8 pounds, 4 ounces.

Ralph Wells of Castaic, Calif. caught five bass weighing 7 pounds, 11 ounces for third.

Brian Holiday of Highland, Utah, weighed in five bass for 7 pounds, 8 ounces for fourth place; and Gary Collins of Moorpark, Calif., caught five bass weighing 7-5 for fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are Jeff Billings of Clearlake, Calif., with five bass weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces (6th place); Shawn Hilton of Phoenix with four bass weighing 6-13 (7th); Glenn Thomas of Shingle Springs, Calif., with five bass weighing 6-12 (8th); Shane Meisel of Alta Loma, Calif., with four bass weighing 6-9 (9th); and Steve Gausnell of Roseburg, Ore., with five bass weighing 6-8 (10th).

Tony Sarkis of Phoenix claimed co-angler big-bass honors with a 3-pound, 13-ounce bass that earned him $200.

Day two of Western Division competition at Lake Pleasant begins as the full field of 159 boats takes off from Pleasant Harbor Marina at 7 a.m. Mountain 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.