Lyon leads pros at Pleasant - Major League Fishing

Lyon leads pros at Pleasant

But co-angler Klassen snags day’s biggest sack
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Rick Klassen of Spring Valley, Calif., jumped from 10th place to take the lead in the Co-angler Division with four bass weighing 8 pounds, 10 ounces – the largest weight of the day in either division. Photo by Jeff Schroeder.
January 30, 2004 • Jeff Schroeder • Archives

PEORIA, Ariz. – Jim Lyon wanted to go home after the opening round of the EverStart Series Western Division tournament at Lake Pleasant. Fortunately for him, he didn’t go anywhere. The pro from Reno, Nev., caught a five-bass limit weighing 8 pounds, 5 ounces Friday and will take a six-ounce lead heading into Saturday’s final round.

Lyon’s yearning to part ways with Lake Pleasant happened Thursday when he broke off a couple of fish and came in with just over 4 pounds, 12 ounces. He knew that he was on fish, but at this stingy waterway this week, just one lost fish makes a world of difference.

“I should have had 8 pounds yesterday,” Lyon said. “My thoughts were that I had not executed well. I almost felt like I was backing into (the cut).”

As it happened, Lyon just squeaked under yesterday’s cut by 1 ounce in 19th place. Today, Lyon redeemed himself. His 8-pound, 5-ounce limit edged out second-place Kevin Martin, who caught a limit worth 7-15.

“Absolutely, I went out and executed today,” he said.

Lyon found a unique fishing pattern in practice that has worked for him all week. He’s fishing two pockets on the main channel of Pleasant and targeting “balls of bait fish” within the pockets.

“The fish are staged right outside of the bait and, as soon as that bait starts moving, the fish start biting,” he said. “I had a limit by 9:30 today. It’s the first time here that I’ve ever figured that out.”

When the bass were moving, Lyon worked a drop-shot with an 1/8-ounce weight in 15 to 25 feet water. He used four different colors of worms, saying that when the fish stopped moving, the color change would provoke some motion and some bites. When the bait fish settled down, he found that he could drop a 3/8-ounce Berkley jig right into the thick of the bait balls to get them to scatter and the bass to bite.

Pro Jim Lyon of Reno, Nev., caught a limit of five bass weighing 8 pounds, 5 ounces to lead Friday's round of the $214,525 EverStart Series Western Division event on Lake Pleasant near Peoria, Ariz.Lyon’s productive pattern almost didn’t happen for him, however. Before the tournament, he started practicing in a popular cove and found the boat traffic too much to handle. That’s when he decided to move out to the main lake.

“I made a good move and the right decision when I needed to,” he said. “Otherwise, I would have already gone home with my hat in my hand. The key is being somewhat versatile.”

In Saturday’s finals, the pro leader plans to keep plugging the bait balls, but he says there are no guarantees.

“It’s very possible that I could blank tomorrow,” he said. “If I don’t have a limit by 11 o’clock, then I’ll change things up. These local boys could easily come in with 12 or 13 pounds tomorrow.”

Young pro Kevin Martin caught a limit worth 7-15 and qualified for the finals in second place.Young Martin on the rise

Lyon will have his work cut out for him Saturday. Hard on his heels is the 20-year-old rookie pro from El Cajon, Calif. Martin started the week in sixth place, then moved to third yesterday and second today.

“I feel really great and really confident. I want to win this tournament really bad,” said Martin, who added that he was inspired to go pro after watching Bryan Kerchal win the 1994 Bassmaster Classic. “After seeing a young guy like that win a big tournament, I thought I could do it, too. This is a dream come true.”

Martin fished for staging bass off of points using a drop-shot with brightly-colored SR plastics and fish scent. The fish he’s after are preparing to spawn, he said, and the main thing was finding points with rock, brush and cockleberry bushes.

“I think that’s what (the bushes) are called,” he said. “I found that they’re really key at this time of year when the water’s cold.”

Berry creeps back into contention

Art Berry of Ramona, Calif., worked his way into the third position with a five-bass weight of 7 pounds, 7 ounces. Berry finished in second place at the EverStart Lake Pleasant tournament last year.

Berry fished along a road bed that breaks into a channel and said that finding just one sizable fish per day has been crucial.

“It’s just fishing slowly on the road bed,” he said. “To be only a pound out and fishing against 10 guys, it’s great.”

Clouse fourth, Bush fifth

Marcus Clouse of Henderson, Nev., caught three bass weighing 7 pounds, 6 ounces to qualify for the finals in fourth place, and Mike Bush of West Hills, Calif., placed fifth with five bass weighing 6-3.

Rounding out the top 10 pros to qualify for Saturday’s finals are Don Payne of Modesto, Calif., with five bass weighing 6 pounds, 2 ounces (6th place); Dub LaShot of Walterville, Ore., with four bass weighing 5-10 (7th); Mike Folkestad of Yorba Linda, Calif., with four bass weighing 4-8 (8th); Michael Bennett of Roseville, Calif., with three bass weighing 4-3 (9th); and Derek Yamamoto of Mesa, Ariz., with three bass weighing 4-0 (10th).

Klassen’s 8-10 leads the day

It’s not unusual in a drop-shot-dominated, deepwater, low-weight tournament like this to see a co-angler outfish the pros in the later rounds. What is a kick, however, is to see just how thrilled Rick Klassen is about it.

“Oh my gosh! I’m so excited that I’m coming out of my skin!” the co-angler from Spring Valley, Calif., exclaimed after taking the lead Friday with four bass weighing 8 pounds, 10 ounces. “Next to meeting my wife, Amber, and my relationship with Jesus Christ, this is the highlight of my life!”

And, yes, the exclamation points are necessary. Fishing in his first EverStart tournament, Klassen found a mess of fish Friday while fishing with local pro Paul Hodges of Glendale, Ariz. It was Hodges, Klassen said, who deserves all the credit.

“If he doesn’t know this lake better than anybody else on the planet, I don’t know who does,” Klassen said.

The odd thing about the pairing, however, was that Klassen caught the biggest sack of the day while Hodges, who had an enthusiastic cheering section at weigh-in, was the only pro who zeroed.

“He is the most unselfish, generous, kind and polite gentleman you’ve ever met,” Klassen said of Hodges. “If you’re looking for fun, call Paul Hodges.”

Klassen said that Hodges worked hard to keep him on fish Friday and that the reason for the disparate sacks coming out of the same boat was probably technique.

“He turned the boat and opened it up for me,” Klassen said. “I think the biggest difference between us was that I was fishing superlightly with a superfinesse technique.”

Coming in second place for the co-anglers was Tony Sarkis of Phoenix with five bass weighing 7 pounds, 15 ounces.Coming in second place for the co-anglers was Tony Sarkis of Phoenix, who has been steady all week long from the back of the boat. He caught five bass weighing 7 pounds, 15 ounces using a drop-shot and a 4-inch worm.

“It’s been getting a little better every day,” Sarkis said. “If I can get 8 pounds again tomorrow, I’ll be happy.”

Jeff Grant of La Mirada, Calif., placed third in the Co-angler Division with a five-bass catch weighing 7 pounds, 4 ounces.

Gary Collins of Moorspark, Calif., came in fourth with a five-bass catch weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces.

Steve Amata of Payson, Utah, claimed fifth place with five bass weighing 6 pounds, 3 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers to qualify for Saturday’s finals are Mark Meddock of Woodland, Calif., with five bass weighing 5 pounds, 9 ounces (6th place); Matt Lowery of El Cajon, Calif., with four bass weighing 5-7 (7th); Jed Christensen of Ogden, Utah, with three bass weighing 4-3 (8th); Shane Meisel of Alta Loma, Calif., with three bass weighing 3-8 (9th); and John Morla of Ione, Calif., with three bass weighing 3-8 (10th).

Day four of Western Division competition at Lake Pleasant begins as the final-round field of 10 boats takes off from Pleasant Harbor Marina at 7 a.m. Mountain time Saturday. Friday’s weights carry over to Saturday, and each division’s winner will be determined by two-day combined weight.

The winning pro is guaranteed $8,500 cash plus a Ranger 519 VS. 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). 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, 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.