Goodwin leads pros again at Havasu, but not by much - Major League Fishing

Goodwin leads pros again at Havasu, but not by much

Co-anglers led by another Caporuscio
Image for Goodwin leads pros again at Havasu, but not by much
Local pro Mike Goodwin of Lake Havasu City caught a five-bass limit weighing 15 pounds, 3 ounces to lead the semifinal round of the $214,525 EverStart Series Western Division event on Lake Havasu. Photo by Jeff Schroeder. Angler: Mike Goodwin.
March 19, 2004 • Jeff Schroeder • Archives

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. – Mike Goodwin can’t say enough good things about the Lake Havasu bass fishery.

“This lake is in the best shape it’s ever been in. I remember a time when everyone hated to come here, but since they started the habitat relief program, it’s been phenomenal,” he said.

He would know: This is his home lake. The pro from Lake Havasu City, who led the opening day of EverStart Series Western Division competition here, regained a narrow lead on the first day of the final round Friday with a five-bass weight of 15 pounds, 3 ounces.

And “narrow” lead might be understating it a little bit. Sitting 4 ounces behind Goodwin in second place is the ever-dangerous Art Berry of Ramona, Calif., who mustered a limit weighing 14 pounds, 11 ounces. In fact, because Lake Havasu continued to be generous with its spawning bass Friday, just 3 pounds, 8 ounces separates the leader from the 10th-place pro to qualify for Saturday’s finals. All 10 qualifiers except one weighed in a limit, and this race will be a tight one tomorrow.

The pros and co-anglers in the final top 10 line up and meet their Saturday fishing partners.“We’re just going to go fishing and fish hard all day,” Goodwin said. “May the best man win.”

The best man Friday had a score to settle with a pair of bass that he missed on Thursday.

“Yesterday started off really bad. I broke off one over 3 pounds, then I broke off another one,” Goodwin said. “I told my wife this morning that I was going back to catch both of those fish. I knew they would still be there because they were locked down on the bed pretty tight.”

So he returned to the beds and – using a jig and pork trailer, as well as a Kinami Palm Tree – caught the two fish right away Friday morning. Weighing roughly 3 pounds apiece, they were a good, relaxing start to a high-pressure day.

“The bite kind of slowed down a little bit after that. I just fished around and, by about 1:30, I caught my fourth and fifth keeper,” he said. “Then I went back to my big-fish spot and caught a 5-pounder on three or four casts.”

With that kicker bass, Goodwin had secured the lead – for today, anyway. He knows that he’s got a lot of company in position to win Saturday, not the least of which is Berry – who is visibly anxious to win an EverStart tournament after coming agonizingly close in second place twice already, including last month at Lake Pleasant.

“Well, he’s no hungrier for it than I am,” Goodwin said. “Plus, he’s younger. He has more time to do it.”

Ever-dangerous Art Berry of Ramona, Calif., mustered second place -- again -- with a limit weighing 14 pounds, 11 ounces.Like clockwork, Berry in second again

So bad that he can taste it, perennial runner-up Berry wants to win this one badly.

“I really truly believe that it’s going to happen,” he said Friday. “I’m just telling you, I’m so excited to go fishing tomorrow. Let’s go.”

He should be excited. Berry found a hot spot this week that he thinks has enough bass left to win this week. It’s a shallow spawning area that hasn’t been hit very hard by the tournament traffic here over the last two weeks. Using a Zoom tube, he had his limit by 10 o’clock Friday and eventually culled out to 14 pounds, 11 ounces.

“I’m just blind-casting to bedding fish,” he said. “It’s just a shallow, calm, small-rock spawning flat. It’s Bass Fishing 101. There’s a lot of calm, warm water with a mixture of tules and rock, and the largemouths are moving to the bank every day. It’s just a good spot.”

Justin Kerr, a 22-year-old pro from Simi Valley, Calif., placed third with a limit weighing 13 pounds, 4 ounces Friday.Young Kerr in third

Justin Kerr, a 22-year-old pro from Simi Valley, Calif., placed third with a limit weighing 13 pounds, 4 ounces Friday. He went after deeper, staging bass today, but he thinks he’ll have to go sight-fishing tomorrow.

“I was just happy to have made the top 20,” Kerr said. “There are still some fish there that have been replenishing themselves on the bed, so we’ll go out and get them tomorrow.”

Ehrler fourth, Woods fifth

Brent Ehrler of Ramona, Calif., the 2003 Western Division pro points champion, is pushing his way up the rankings again this year. He qualified for Saturday in fourth place with a limit weighing 13 pounds, 1 ounce.

Ehrler said that he has been going at fish a variety of ways at Havasu, from targeting sight-fish to prespawning fish and changing depths. He said the key to consistency on tour is practice, practice, practice.

“It’s just about eliminating water from sunup to sundown and grinding it out all day long,” he said.

Todd Woods of Murrieta, Calif., placed fifth by virtue of a tiebreaker. He also caught a limit weighing 13 pounds, 1 ounce Friday.

“No one’s probably going to believe me, but I’m just junk-fishing this week,” he said. “I’m using Rat-L-Traps, brush hogs and Gitzits. I’ve been sight-fishing, fishing for cruisers, catching blind fish. I’m doing a lot of running around.”

Rest of the best a tight group

Like the top five, the rest of the pros to make the cut are all easily within winning distance.

Rounding out the top 10 pros to qualify for Saturday’s finals are John Suzow of Newbury Park, Calif., with four bass weighing 12 pounds, 15 ounces (6th place); Bobby Lanham of Scottsdale, Ariz., with five bass weighing 12-3 (7th); Jon Strelic of Alpine, Calif., with five bass weighing 12-1 (8th); Al Robinson of Boulder City, Nev., with five bass weighing 11-11 (9th); and Shane Shafer of Ogden, Utah, with five bass weighing 11-11 (10th, by virtue of tiebreaker).

Mario Caporuscio of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., leads the Co-angler Division thanks to four bass weighing 9 pounds, 8 ounces.Deja vu: Caporuscio leads, but this time it’s the co-anglers

Mario Caporuscio picked up right where his brother, Dino, left off Friday. While Dino, who led the Pro Division in the opening round, missed today’s cut in 14th place, Mario took the Co-angler Division lead with four bass weighing 9 pounds, 8 ounces.

“Yeah, I’m picking up the slack for the Caporuscios,” the co-angler leader said.

Caporuscio, who hails from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., caught his fish by drop-shotting in deeper water with Roboworms. He said it was a slow bite from the back of the boat, even though he caught his first bass early in the day. He didn’t catch his fourth fish, a 4 1/2-pounder, until an hour before weigh-in.

“I was throwing out to the deeper edge; I couldn’t see the bait,” he said. “When your pros are working the bed fish, there’s nothing else you can do.”

Sitting in second place for the co-anglers is Jason Billmaier of Las Vegas. He caught five bass weighing 8 pounds, 10 ounces.

“It’s a tough bite out there,” he said. “I didn’t get my last one until just before we came in.”

Matt Lowery of El Cajon, Calif., who top-10ed in co-angler competition at Lake Pleasant last month, is in third place at Lake Havasu and is heading to the final round again. He caught five bass weighing 8 pounds, 9 ounces Friday.

Fourth place went to co-angler Charlie Crawford of Peoria, Ariz., who caught four bass weighing 8 pounds, 5 ounces.

Jason Caine of Las Vegas placed fifth for the co-anglers with three bass weighing 7 pounds, 10 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers to qualify for Saturday’s finals are Gary Collins of Moorpark, Calif., with five bass weighing 6 pounds, 8 ounces (6th place); Kirk Beardsley of Huntington Beach, Calif., with four bass weighing 6-7 (7th); Steve Schultz of Hooper, Utah, with three bass weighing 6-0 (8th); Tony Sarkis of Phoenix with two bass weighing 5-10 (9th); and Jeff Dean of Lake Havasu City with three bass weighing 5-4 (10th).

Day four of Western Division competition at Lake Havasu begins as the final-round field of 10 boats takes off from Windsor Beach State Park 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 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.