Clear sailing ahead - Major League Fishing

Clear sailing ahead

Stren Series anglers finally get reprieve from nasty weather as finals commence
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Final takeoff on Clear Lake commences under clear skies. Photo by Gary Mortenson.
March 4, 2006 • Gary Mortenson • Archives

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – As Saturday’s takeoff kicked off from Redbud Marina shortly after 7 a.m., Stren Series Western Division finalists saw something they haven’t seen in days – truly clear skies. While the air remained frigid – temps were once again straddling the 32-degree mark – the mere fact that there was no snow or freezing rain spilling from the heavens was a welcome site. In fact, in relative terms, it felt like it was time to break out the Bermuda shorts.

To be sure, there is a lot at stake in today’s finals as anglers battle for the lion’s share of a total tournament purse worth more than $262,000. First place in the Pro Division ultimately could be worth as much as $64,500 – including a new Ranger boat and various contingency awards – while co-anglers will be battling for a top prize of up to $35,000.

Anglers make plenty of last-minute preparations at the Redbud marina before takeoff.Per tournament rules, first place in each division will go to the top-10 finalist who weighs in the heaviest combined stringers over the course of the semifinals and finals.

Currently, Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif., has the overall lead in the Pro Division after netting a semifinal five-fish limit weighing 19 pounds, 9 ounces. Meanwhile, Andy Scholz of Reno, Nev., holds the top spot in the Co-angler Division after recording a 17-pound, 14-ounce sack in yesterday’s competition.

So what are the keys to unlocking enough fish on a decidedly fickle Clear Lake to gain the tournament title? It depends on whom you ask.

“Being calm,” said second-place pro finalist Todd Woods of Murrieta, Calif. “There’s just so many fish in this lake and so many big fish that you can land a 15-pound largemouth with 20 minutes left to go in the tournament and still win it.”

Day-three pro leader Reese sees things a bit differently.

“Execution and presentation are going to be the keys for everybody,” he said. “It’s also going to be important to take advantage of the late-afternoon bite. So far, the best bites are coming after 2 p.m. If weigh-in was a little later today, we’d have a real slugfest on our hands.”

Stren Series action concludes at today’s weigh-in, scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. PST at Wal-Mart, located at 15960 Dam Road in Clearlake, Calif.

Saturday’s conditions

Sunrise: 6:40 a.m.

Temperature at takeoff: 32 degrees

Expected high temperature: 54 degrees

Water temperature: 46-48 degrees

Wind: SE at 10 mph

Maximum humidity: 64 percent

Day’s outlook: partly sunny