CITGO Bassmaster TOUR Presented by BUSCH BEER - Lake Eufaula (March 6-9)

News from the Tour (event 5 of 10)

EUFAULA, Ala. - Feb. 26, 2003 - The CITGO Bassmaster Tour event presented by Busch Beer on Lake Eufaula marks the halfway point in the 2003 season, but more importantly it means anglers not currently in top 100 have just two more chances to improve their position.

With the field scheduled to be cut to just the top 100 of the nearly 180 anglers after event six on Santee Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina, many anglers may try to change their strategies just to make the cut.

"It definitely might make some guys more conservative," says longtime pro and 2002 winner on Lake Eufaula, Denny Brauer. "There might be the tendency to go to an area just to get bites to bring in a limit and stay in the race."

Brauer, who is currently in 83rd place, doesn't intend to let the Busch BASS Angler of the Year points affect his approach, however.

"I like to forget about the points," says the 1987 Busch BASS Angler of the Year. "I like to try to win and if I bomb out, I bomb out.

"For me, personally, I don't like to change. I don't want to change the way I fish. But, it is definitely impacted by where someone is at in their career."

Brauer admits he isn't completely sure how the fish will be caught at Eufaula this year, largely because of the weather.

"If there is some rain and the lake is high, then flooded brush and grass with spinnerbaits and jigs will be a dominant technique," he explains.

Brauer also says that some bass could be caught deeper, but really believes that high water will equate to bass being found in the shallows.

Regardless of how the fish are ultimately caught at Eufaula, one angler still leads the field in the Busch BASS Angler of the Year race - Jim Bitter. The veteran Florida pro saw his lead shrink slightly at Toledo Bend from 38 points to 31, but still shows the way nearly halfway through the season.

The key concern for Bitter is the list of anglers immediately behind him. Accomplished anglers Zell Rowland, Mike Wurm and Tom Mann Jr. are in the third through fifth positions. The angler in second place? None other than defending CITGO Bassmaster Classic Champion Jay Yelas, who has never won a Busch BASS Angler of the Year title.

TELEVISION
The event from Eufaula will be telecast on ESPN2 on Saturday, March 15, at 10:30 a.m.

UP NEXT
This is the fifth event of 10 on the 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Tour schedule.  The next event takes place March 20-23 on South Carolina's Santee Cooper Reservoir.

Schedule of Events for Alabama CITGO Bassmaster Tour Event

Registration Wed., March 5, 3:30 p.m.
Lakepoint Resort Convention Center

Briefing Wed., March 5, 6:30 p.m.
Lakepoint Resort Convention Center

First day launch Thurs., March 6, 6:30 a.m.
Lakepoint State Park Marina

Day 1 weigh-in Thurs., March 6, 2:30 p.m.
Lakepoint State Park Marina

Chevy Pro Night Thurs., March 6, 6-8 p.m.
Northlake Chevrolet

BASS Sponsor Expo Fri., March 7, Noon to 6
Lakepoint State Park Marina

Day 2 weigh-in and cut Fri., March 7, 2:30 p.m.
Lakepoint State Park Marina


BASS Sponsor Expo Sat., March 8, 10 to 6
Lakepoint State Park Marina


CastingKids Sat., March 8, 10:30-1:30
Lakepoint State Park Marina

Day 3 weigh-in and cut Sat., March 8, 3:30 p.m.
Lakepoint State Park Marina

BASS Sponsor Expo Sun., March 9, 10 to 6
Lakepoint State Park Marina


Day 4 weigh-in Sun., March 9, 3:30 p.m.
Lakepoint State Park Marina

ORIGINS OF THE TOUR

While BASS has conducted tournaments since 1967, records for the CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer begin with the 1994-95 season, as that was the first year the pro-am tournaments earned points toward the Busch BASS Angler of the Year award.  The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the CITGO Bassmaster Tour and the CITGO Bassmaster Open circuits, is the world's most prestigious tournament series.

With his win on Lake Eufaula last season Denny Brauer moved his career win total to 13, including four on the CITGO Bassmaster Tour. His Tour total ranks first among all anglers, with Shaw Grigsby and Davy Hite in second with three wins each.

POINTS RACE FOR BUSCH BASS ANGLER OF THE YEAR
Pros will be competing for valuable Busch BASS Angler of the Year points throughout the 2003 season.  Points are awarded based on each angler's finish in an event, with 175 points awarded to the first-place angler and one fewer point as positions descend. An angler must catch at least one bass to earn points.

BUSCH BASS Angler of the Year point Standings (following 4 events)


 001 Jim Bitter            Fla.          623
 002 Jay Yelas             Texas         592
 003 Zell Rowland          Texas         587
 004 Mike Wurm             Ark.          582
 005 Tom Mann, Jr.         Ga.           576
 006 Bud Pruitt            Texas         558
 007 Elton Luce Jr.        Texas         553
 008 Kevin VanDam          Mich.         550
 009 Skeet Reese           Calif.        539
 010 Shaw E Grigsby, Jr    Fla.          537
 011 Brent Chapman         Kan.          536
 012 Curt Lytle            Va.           530
 013 Mark Tyler            Calif.        527
 014 Mark Kile             Ariz.         526
 014 Harold Allen          Texas         526
 016 John Murray           Ariz.         511
 017 Kelly Jordon          Texas         503
 018 Gary Klein            Texas         499
 019 Tim Horton            Ala.          497
 020 Jeff Reynolds         Okla.         496
 021 Roger Boler           La.           486
 022 Alton Jones           Texas         484
 022 Mark Davis            Ark.          484
 024 Dustin Wilks          N.C.          481
 025 Chad Morgenthaler     Ill.          480
 026 Ben Matsubu           Texas         476
 026 Stacey D. King        Mo.           476
 028 Terry Scroggins       Fla.          475
 029 Jeff Kriet            Okla.         474
 030 David Wharton         Texas         469
 031 J. T. Kenney          Md.           463
 032 Jack L. Wade          Tenn.         462
 033 Todd Faircloth        Texas         457
 034 Lance Vick            Texas         453
 035 David Fritts          N.C.          452
 036 Cody Bird             Texas         451
 037 Kyle Mabrey           Ala.          448
 038 Ishama Monroe         Calif.        447
 039 Jason Barber          Texas         446
 040 Jimmy D. Mize         Ark.          441
 040 Mike Hicks            Va.           441
 040 Dalton Bobo           Ala.          441
 043 Casey Iwai            Ariz.         438
 044 Kevin Wirth           Ky.           435
 045 Jason Quinn           S.C.          434
 046 Randall R Romig       Pa.           432
 047 Roland Martin         Fla.          429
 048 Mike Reynolds         Calif.        427
 049 Mark Menendez         Ky.           424
 049 Woo Daves             Va.           424



CLASSIC QUALIFIERS
The following list of anglers have already qualified for this August's CITGO Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans, La. through the CITGO Bassmaster Open series which took place last fall.

>From the CITGO Bassmaster Northern Division:
Koby Kreiger, Indiana
Lee Bailey, Connecticut
Michael Iaconelli, New Jersey
Randall Romig, Pennsylvania
David LeFebre, Pennsylvania

>From the CITGO Bassmaster Central Division:
Greg Hackney, Louisiana
Edwin Evers, Oklahoma
Mike Gough, Florida
Homer Humphreys, Louisiana
Chad Morganthaler, Illinois

>From the CITGO Bassmaster Southern Division:
Jason Quinn, South Carolina
Wesley Strader, Tennessee
Todd Auten, South Carolina
Michael Johnson, Georgia
Tom Hamlin, Georgia

Additionally, if the reigning CITGO Bassmaster Classic Champion, Jay Yelas, and the reigning Busch BASS Angler of the Year, Davy Hite, do not earn berths based on their 2003 performance, they will receive automatic entry into the event.

CITGO INCENTIVE PROGRAMS

CITGO Rookie of the Year award
Newcomers to the Tour this season have the opportunity to earn not only a $10,000 bonus, but also the title of CITGO Rookie of the Year. CITGO will reward the Tour's top newcomer based on final standing in the Busch BASS Angler of the Year program at the 2003 CITGO Bassmasters Classic.

Arizona's Mark Kile ended Terry Scroggins' hold on the top spot and now has a 30-point lead in the CITGO Rookie of the Year race.

2003 CITGO Rookie of the Year Standings (After 4 events)

1. Mark Kile AZ 526
2. Jeff Reynolds OK 496
3. Chad Morgenthaler IL 480
4. Terry Scroggins FL 475
5. J.T. Kenney MD 463
6. Lance Vick TX 453
7. Kyle Mabrey AL 448
8. Jason Barber TX 446
9. Casey Iwai AZ 438
10. Jason Quinn SC 434


CITGO Horizon Award
At the conclusion of the 2003 season, CITGO will reward the angler that posts the greatest improvement over their 2002 season. During the festivities surrounding the CITGO Bassmasters Classic this August in New Orleans, the winning angler will receive a check for $25,000.

Florida's Jim Bitter continues to lead in the CITGO Horizon award standings.

2003 CITGO Horizon Award Standings (After 4 events)

Place Angler State Improvement from 2002
1. Bitter, Jim Fla. 125
2. Tyler, Mark Calif. 119
3. Bird, Cody Texas 110
4. Lytle, Curt Va. 109
5. Hicks, Mike Va.   93
6. Wade, Jack Tenn.   93
7. Omori, Takahiro Texas   85
8. Grigsby, Shaw E, Jr Fla.   80
9. Boler, Roger La.   80
10. King, Stacey D. Mo.   71

THE LAST TIME OUT
Texan David Wharton ended a 10-year winless drought by claiming victory on Toledo Bend Reservoir near Many, La. Wharton brought in 32 pounds, 6 ounces during the Showdown portion of the event, easily outdistancing second place Takahiro Omori by 12 pounds, 7 ounces.

BASS IN ALABAMA
Alabama is not only the home of BASS, it also has been the host of more BASS events than any other state, with this week's event being the 56th held there. Additionally, Lake Eufaula, which is hosting its 12th BASS event, is now tied with Lake Guntersville as the most popular Alabama destination for the world's most prestigious bass tournament series.

THE LAST TIME ON EUFAULA
Denny Brauer claimed victory in last season's finale with 55-13 by just a single ounce over fellow Missourian Randy Blaukat.  South Carolina's Davy Hite claimed the BASS Angler of the Year award during the event, marking him as the series champion for the second time in his career.

OTHER NOTABLE BASS EVENTS IN ALABAMA
While there have been many notable BASS events in the state of Alabama, the most recent was Jay Yelas' victory in the 2002 CITGO Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham. Yelas was the first in the storied tournament's history to weigh in the big bass each day of competition.

IF I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS
Gary Klein recently became the seventh member of the BASS Millionaires Club when he won the CITGO Bassmaster Tour event on Lake Seminole. With his win, Klein moved his career earnings with BASS to $1,067,644. Other members of the elite group include Denny Brauer, Rick Clunn, Larry Nixon, Shaw Grigsby, Kevin VanDam and Jay Yelas.

TOP 10 ALL-TIME MONEY WINNERS

1. Denny Brauer $1,650,652
2. Rick Clunn $1,511,370
3. Larry Nixon $1,497,734
4. Shaw Grigsby $1,176,155
5. Kevin Van Dam $1,137,350
6. Jay Yelas $1,104,132
7. Gary Klein $1,067,644
8. Roland Martin $   914,042
9. George Cochran $   857,776
10. Ron Shuffield $   839,296

REMEMBERING CARL MAXFIELD
A memorial service is being planned to honor CITGO Bassmaster Tour pro Carl Maxfield of South Carolina, who passed away Feb. 14. The memorial service will take place at 5 p.m. (ET) March 16 in advance of the CITGO Bassmaster Tour event on Santee Cooper. It will take place at the Manning high School Gymnasium in Manning, S.C.

In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to a scholarship fund for Maxfield's infant son. Checks should be sent to Carl Maxfield Memorial Scholarship Fund, 305 Squirrel Hollow Court, Summerville, S.C. 29483.

BASS SPONSOR EXPO
A new component of the CITGO Bassmaster Tour events this season is the interactive BASS Sponsor Expo area. Sponsors present exhibits, many of which are interactive and provide an enjoyable experience for all family members. The Expos are free to those attending and take place from noon until 6 p.m. on Fridays; and from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at each Tour stop.

CASTINGKIDS
The Bassmaster CastingKids program presented by Chevy Trucks and CITGO will hold a competition prior to Saturday's weigh-in. From 10:30 until 1:30, youngsters ages 7-14 will have the opportunity to pitch, flip and cast a lure in this popular program. Local winners will advance to state competition and state winners will compete for valuable scholarships including a $5,000 scholarship to the champions in both the 7-10 and 11-14 age groups.

The event will be conducted by the Bluff City Bassmasters. Members of the BASS Federation will also be on hand to provide youngsters with instruction in the proper techniques for flipping, pitching and casting. For more information, contact Jim Howard at 334-616-7192.

CHEVY PRO NIGHT
Chevy Pro Staff team members will be available for autographs, fishing tips and conversation on March 6 from 6-8 p.m. at Northlake Chevrolet Pontiac Buick in Eufaula. The Chevy pro staff consists of Tommy Biffle, David Fritts, Tom Mann Jr., Larry Nixon, Kim Stricker, Kevin VanDam and Jay Yelas, as well as Jimmy Houston of the long running ESPN fishing show "Jimmy Houston Outdoors."

2003 CITGO BASSMASTER TOUR SCHEDULE/RESULTS
Site: Harris Chain of Lakes - Leesburg, Fla.
Winner: Skeet Reese

Site: Lake Okeechobee - Okeechobee, Fla.
Winner: Terry Scroggins

Site: Lake Seminole - Bainbridge, Ga.
Winner: Gary Klein

Site: *Toledo Bend Reservoir - Many, La.
Winner: David Wharton

Site: Lake Eufaula - Eufaula, Ala.
Competition Days: Mar. 6, 7, 8, 9, 2003
Practice Days: Mar. 3, 4, 5, 2003

Site: Santee Cooper Reservoir - Manning, S.C.
Competition Days: Mar. 20, 21, 22, 23, 2003
Practice Days: Mar. 17, 18, 19, 2003

Site: San Joaquin River Delta - Stockton, Calif.
Competition Days: April 3, 4, 5, 6, 2003
Practice Days: Mar. 31, April 1, 2, 2003

Site: *Clear Lake - Clearlake, Calif.
Competition Days: April 10, 11, 12, 13, 2003
Practice Days: April 7, 8, 9, 2003

Site: Lake Hamilton - Hot Springs, Ark.
Competition Days: May 1, 2, 3, 4, 2003
Practice Days: April 28, 29, 30, 2003

Site: *Alabama River - Montgomery, Ala.
Competition Days: May 22, 23, 24, 25, 2003
Practice Days: May 19, 20, 21, 2003

*designates Showdown events