LAKEPORT, Calif. – After battling bizarre weather conditions for the majority of the week, Stren Series anglers figured that things couldn’t get any nuttier. They had already dealt with hail, frost, high winds and intermittent showers interspersed with beautiful sunrises, partly cloudy skies and even a rainbow. But when anglers arose Friday morning to check on their boats and start preparing for today’s semifinals, they found something odd covering the landscape – snow.
During the evening, at least 2 inches had covered downtown Lakeport as well as the boat decks of nearly every competitor who qualified in the top 20 for today’s competition. Welcome to sunny California!
But unlike grade-school children, professional anglers aren’t afforded snow days. Hence, they bundled up, put on their goggles, cleaned off their boat decks, donned gloves and found renewed motivation to qualify for Saturday’s finals – and perhaps some of the biggest paydays of their careers.
“Everything should fish the same,” said second-place pro qualifier Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif., shrugging off the wintry weather like it was just another day at the office. “But I bet you will see some pretty big bags though at weigh-in.”
As the snow slowly gave way to freezing rain during the 7 a.m. takeoff, the top-20 anglers in both the pro and co-angler divisions made their way out onto the open waters of Clear Lake in an attempt to qualify for the final top-10 cut. At stake in this event is a top pro award worth as much as $64,500. Up to $35,000 awaits the first-place winner in the Co-angler Division.
Currently, Mike Folkestad of Yorba Linda, Calif., holds the top qualifying position in the Pro Division heading into Friday’s semifinals after landing a two-day catch of 45 pounds, 11 ounces. Meanwhile, Brett Baldwin of Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, boasts the No. 1 qualifying position in the Co-angler Division after netting a total catch of 31 pounds, 2 ounces.
Stren Series Western Division action continues at Friday’s weigh-in, scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. PST at Wal-Mart, located at 15960 Dam Road in Clearlake, Calif.
Sunrise: 6:41 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 33 degrees
Expected high temperature: 48 degrees
Water temperature: 47-49 degrees
Wind: SSW at 11 mph
Maximum humidity: 76 percent
Day’s outlook: showers