SHREVEPORT, La. - November 2, 2001 - Rick Lillegard entered Friday's third round of competition in the Louisiana CITGO BASSMASTER Tour event in 23rd place. After a five fish limit weighing 14 pounds, 5 ounces and some extraordinary circumstances Lillegard found himself in the lead heading into Saturday's final round of competition on the Red River.
The extraordinary circumstances centered around the tournament leader entering the day, Dean Rojas. Rojas who had over a seven pound lead realized he was fishing in questionable waters and approached tournament officials to confirm his fears. It turned out that he had in fact been casting into an area that was off-limits to anglers in the event.
"I was going over some paperwork last night and realized that I had committed a rules infraction," said a disappointed Rojas. "I approached tournament officials this morning about the situation. This is a clean and respectable sport with clean and respectable competitors. It's unfortunate that this happened, but rules are rules. If every angler on the trail didn't follow the rules, we would not have the premier tournament organization in the world."
"Dean met with me this morning and admitted that he had made a mistake by fishing in off-limits waters during the first two days of competition, said Tournament Director Mark Cosper. "As a result of this, his catch for those days was disqualified. I feel compelled to tell you that Dean could have simply withdrawn from this event and headed for home, but instead fished all day because he didn't want to leave his amateur partner waiting at the dock. You must applaud Dean's professionalism and integrity."
Rojas brought in 7-9 for the day, but was not able to move back into the tournament's top 40.
Lillegard, though moved his total to 30-10 for the event and enters the final round with a 1-10 lead over second place Davy Hite.
"I'm as glad as I can be to be in the lead. I have been fishing the same spot all week," explained Lillegard. "In fact I'm sick of it. It is a boring area, but I keep working and every once and awhile catch a fish. The key to the spot is to fish slowly around a ledge with a hard rock bottom. It is an area that the fish keep moving into. We will find out tomorrow if it can maintain."
Following Lillegard is Hite, Prosperity, S.C. with 29-0; Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, 28-7; Pete Gluszek, Franklinville, N.J., 27-15 and Carl Maxfield, Summerville, S.C., 27-15.
Other anglers making up the the top 10 for the final round include: Roland Martin, Clewiston, Fla., 27-1; Frank Scalish, Cleveland, Ohio, 26-14; Jeff Magee, Mendenhall, Miss., 26-13; Jay Yelas, Tyler, Texas, 26-1 and Guy Eaker, Cherryville, N.C., 25-15.
Anglers in the final round will be competing for a first place prize of $110,000. The total purse of the event is $478,000.
On the amateur side of the event Pineville, La. Angler Truitt Roberts caught 18-0 over the three days to claim a fully rigged Skeeter bass boat valued at $35,000.
The final weigh-in will take place at Clark's Red River Marina beginning at 2:30 p.m. Anglers launch beginning at 6:15 a.m.
Additionally, a free CastingKids event, presented by Chevy Trucks and CITGO, will be held there Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This fun-filled national program encourages children to perfect the skills of casting, pitching and flipping. Local B.A.S.S. clubs conduct the events and provide instruction to all youngsters.
By sanctioning over 20,000 tournaments worldwide, B.A.S.S. is the world's largest fishing organization. The CITGO BASSMASTER Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit. It continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism, and sportsmanship after more than three decades.
Sponsors of the Louisiana CITGO BASSMASTER Tour event include: CITGO, Chevrolet Trucks, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Pennzoil Marine, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Stowaway Batteries, Kumho Tires, Long John Silver's, Gore-Tex Outerwear, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, Bass Pro Shops, Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools, GMAC/ B.A.S.S. Vehicle & Boat Insurance, B.A.S.S. Platinum Visa/First USA.
Associate Sponsors include: Bass Cat Boats, G3 Boats
The Louisiana CITGO BASSMASTER Tour event is sponsored locally by the Shreveport Regional Sports Authority.
Story Courtesy of B.A.S.S., Inc.