LAKEPORT, Calif. – After another tough day of fishing on Clear Lake, Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif., showed once again why he is considered one of the best western anglers in the business. Posting a limit over 26 pounds for the second day in a row, Reese not only managed to keep his overall tournament lead in the Pro Division, but also increased his margin over his next closest competitor, turning a slim 4-ounce differential into a solid 4-pound lead by the end of Friday’s weigh-in.
“I’m a little surprised actually,” said Reese, who now boasts a total, two-day weight of 52 pounds, 14 ounces. “I really thought the weights would be better. I had to work a lot harder out there today. But everything has gone right for me so far. I like leading. It’s been a long time since I had the lead on back-to-back days. Now that I think of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever had the lead for two straight days heading into the finals.”
Reese said that unlike some past events, he tried to steer clear of the trap of “fishing history.”
“Today, I tried to find some new fish and it worked out for me,” he said. “I found a 200-yard stretch where a whole new wave of fish moved up. I went down that bank and found five new beds, turned around and caught every one of those fish except one female. I pretty much went sight-fishing all day.”
Although Reese is in the driver’s seat heading into tomorrow’s final day of competition, he said he is far cry from being able to rest comfortably tonight.
“Tomorrow, I’m going to go out there and try to do the same thing I did today,” he said. “I’m not going to fish history. I’m going to try and find new water (and some more bedding bass). Today I fished totally new water and it worked out. And if I can do that again tomorrow, I should be in good shape. But I’m definitely a little nervous. I have an idea where to go but it’d be nice if I had some definite spots I was going to fish. But we’ll see what happens. There are a lot of good fishermen in this tournament and any one of them can go out there and catch a big bag tomorrow.”
Casey make huge leap up the leaderboard
Heading into today’s action, Mark Casey of Fairfield, Calif., was sitting in 24th place and in need of a strong body of work in Friday’s competition to even have a shot at making today’s top-10 cut. But not only did Casey come through and qualify with his back against the wall, he also managed to haul in the biggest stringer of the entire tournament to date – a 28-pound, 5-ounce limit. That gave Casey a two-day catch of 48 pounds, 12 ounces as well as the second-place qualifier slot heading into the finals.
And he couldn’t have been happier.
“I’m fishing with a lot of guys who I’ve looked up to and watched on TV over the years,” said Casey. “So to have a day like today feels great. To hang with the big boys is just an awesome feeling.”
However, Casey acknowledged that it wasn’t easy.
“Honestly, the past two days I’ve been winging it,” he said. “My pre-fishing was good but I knew that the bed-fish were going to be hammered. So I knew I had to be able to catch some big fish fishing blind. Yesterday, I was flying by the seat of my pants just to get a limit. And today I was doing the same thing until about noon.”
That’s when the light bulb finally went on.
“I stumbled into a really good pattern that really helped me out today,” he said. “I don’t really want to talk about it right now but I kind of got lucky. And I’m going to go out there and try to duplicate it tomorrow. And if I can do that, I just might have a chance at this.”
Breazeale continues to stay on a roll
For the past two weeks, Wayne Breazeale of Kelseyville, Calif., has done nothing but win on Clear Lake. In addition to winning the Angler’s Choice Pro/Am, Breazeale also walked away with the Konocti Vista Cup. Now, after boasting a total two-day catch of 48 pounds, 2 ounces, Breazeale has his sights set on an even bigger prize, the EverStart Series title on Clear Lake.
“I’m trying to make it three for three,” said Breazeale. “I’m down by 4 pounds now and that’s tough to make up against an angler as good as Jimmy Reese. But I was down 6 pounds two weeks ago and still managed to win. So who knows?”
Breazeale said that he has had to constantly adapt as the tournament has progressed. After throwing out his game plan on day one, it appears he had to do the same thing on day two.
“I went deep today,” he said. “It was just something I had to do. The (bedding bass) have just gotten so beat up that I didn’t really try to do much sight-fishing today. But it was tough out there – a lot tougher than yesterday. But overall, I’m feeling pretty good.”
Breazeale said that the weather changes over the past two days have really messed with his initial strategy. However, the proposed forecast for tomorrow could bring Breazeale some welcome news.
“I checked the (forecast) and hopefully the new weather conditions will play into my strengths tomorrow,” he said. “My goal all along was to just try and stay close to the leaders heading into the final day and I think I’ve done that. There are a lot of good sticks here so it’s not going to be easy to win. But we’ll see what happens.”
Lindner grabs fourth
Despite not having any practice period to speak of, Troy Lindner of Los Angeles, Calif., continued to make a legitimate run at the tournament title. Using a two-day catch of 48 pounds, 1 ounce, Lindner grabbed fourth place overall heading into the finals.
“I had the same bites as yesterday but I lost a 5- or 6-pounder at the boat,” he said. “I had a limit by noon but I really had to work for it. I just made a few mistakes today that hurt me a little bit. But it was all my own fault. I can’t blame anything on the conditions or my equipment.”
Lindner, who didn’t get to spend much time practicing due to mechanical issues, is doing surprisingly well given the circumstances.
“I only got to spend about three hours on my trolling motor during the entire practice because I had boat problems,” he said. “So I wound up having to do a lot of practice fishing today. So I feel just blessed to have made another cut.”
Lindner said that he targeted bass with swimbaits and did some sight-fishing as well to land the majority of his catch.
“I really mixed it up today,” he said. “But most of my big fish, my 5-pounders, came on that swimbait,” he said. “And hopefully I can duplicate that again tomorrow.”
Lindner also walked away with the Snicker’s Big Bass award in the Pro Division after netting a 7-pound, 12-ounce largemouth.
Crutcher cruises to top-five qualifying finish
“It feels great,” he said. “It was obviously a little bit calmer out there today and I could work my areas a little better. I only live 5 minutes from the lake so I have a lot of local knowledge and that helped me today.”
Crutcher said that he covered plenty of water in an attempt to get a quality limit.
“I really ran around the lake today,” he said. “I fished reaction baits in the north end and went sight-fishing in the south end of the lake. It took a long time to get a limit, but I was going for five big bites. And that’s been my strategy all along. Just get those five big bites. And that’s what I’m going to try and do again tomorrow. I’m around big fish. I just have to het them in the boat tomorrow.”
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 pro finalists:
6th: Jay Wright of Seal Beach, Calif., 47-10
7th: Greg Gutierrez of Red Bluff, Calif., 46-10
8th: Tony Franceschi of Livermore, Calif., 44-12
9th: Paul Bailey of Kelseyville, Calif., 44-12
10th: Charlie Weyer of West Hills, Calif., 43-12
For a list of complete results, click here.
Morris nets co-angler lead
Bolstered by a total catch of 43 pounds, 8 ounces, Gary Morris of Tracy, Calif., found himself atop the co-angler leaderboard heading into the final day of competition.
“It was a very nice day,” said Morris. “I was really worried about the weather because I got pretty beat up yesterday. I didn’t even want to go out there today. But I gutted it out and the weather wound up being pretty good. I didn’t catch a lot of fish. I only caught five yesterday and six today. But they were good enough.”
Morris said that he caught all of his fish on a drop-shot, fishing in anywhere from 4 to 8 feet of water.
“I really sweated it out today,” he said. “I didn’t get my limit until about 1:30 or 2 p.m. But so far, it’s worked out. It’s been a long time since I’ve done this well. The last time I won a tournament was in 2003. And this is the first time I’ve been in first place heading into the final day.”
Best of the rest
Third place belonged to Jared Frantzich of Sacramento, Calif.., with a catch of 39 pounds, 4 ounces.
Mike Rychard of Anderson, Calif., qualified for the finals in fourth place with a catch of 38 pounds.
Meanwhile, Travis Bounds of Roseville, Calif., qualified in fifth place with a catch of 37 pounds, 15 ounces.
Rounding out the top-10 co-angler finalists:
6th: Daniel Leue of Colusa, Calif., 37-9
7th: Phil Risnes of Hartford, S.D., 37-4
8th: Carl Limbrick, Jr., of Bonita, Calif., 37-3
9th: Gary Haraguchi of San Jose, Calif., ,35-9
10th: Kevin Gray of Hermiston, Ore., 35-7
Sean Kimble of San Ramon, Calif., win the Snicker’s Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division after hauling in a 6-pound, 4-ounce largemouth.
EverStart Series action continues during Saturday’s final takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. at the Konocti Vista Casino Resort and Marina, located at 2755 Mission Rancheria Road in Lakeport, Calif.