OROVILLE, Calif. - November 17, 2001 - Gene Batey celebrated his 38th birthday on the opening day of the California CITGO BASSMASTER Western Open presented by Triton, but he waited until Saturday for the big present. With a 9 pound, 1 ounce catch on the final day, Batey pushed his total to 26-2 and claimed his first B.A.S.S. victory.
"This was the perfect present," said an excited Batey , whose 3 ounce margin of victory was worth $35,000. "This is a dream come true. Every person that fishes in one of these events dreams about winning. I have been hoping for this my whole life."
The Pasco, Wash. angler's previous top finish in a CITGO BASSMASTER event was a second place at the 1998 event on the Columbia River. However, he also had enjoyed success as an amateur in the B.A.S.S. Federation program, winning two divisional events and participating in the B.A.S.S. Federation Championship.
Andy "Cooch" Cuccia of Oakley, Calif. finished second with 25-15 and claims $35,000 for his efforts. Luke Clausen, Four Lakes, Wash. and David Rush, Palermo, Calif. tied for third with 25-11, each claiming $23,000. Gary Dobbins, Yuba City, Calif. caught 25-8 to claim fifth and $4,450.
"I caught my fish by drop-shotting a 4-inch body shad by RoboWorm," explained Batey. "The key was the color of the worm, ayu. Each day I caught more fish than my partners using that worm. "
Batey fished two areas, but said that a 100-yard bank in the Middle Fork section of the lake was his primary spot. The common thread to both locations was fishing the drop shot in water 10 feet deep or less.
Cuccia relied on a jig pattern to catch his bass, working from the surface to 8 feet. He used a 3/4- ounce football jig head tied with rubber skirt and a single tail Yamamoto Grub. He also used a one-ounce jig rigged with a Yamamoto Hula Grub (smoke with green and red flake) in the Bidwell Canyon.
"I fished the jig fast, trying to trigger reactionary strikes," he said. "That's what works best for me on this lake."
Clausen jumped from 51st to the tie for third when he weighed in the second biggest limit of the tournament on Saturday. His 11 pound, 2 ounce catch was anchored with a 5 pound, 1 ounce spotted bass that earned him an additional $800. It was also the biggest fish caught during competition.
Once again the 184 competitors caught plenty of fish. The 156 limits brought to the scales Saturday averaged less than a pound and one half per fish.
In addition to the $166,000 purse anglers in the event were also vying for valuable points toward qualifying for the prestigious 2002 CITGO BASS Masters Classic. The Classic is slated to be held July 25-27 in Birmingham, Ala.
Daily weigh-ins took place at Bidwell Launch Ramp.
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 CITGO BASSMASTER Western Open 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 Outwear,
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 and G3 Boats
The CITGO BASSMASTER Western Open event was presented locally by the City of Oroville.
Story Courtesy of B.A.S.S., Inc.