Texas bass pro Jay Yelas ran away with top honors at the 2002 CITGO BASS Masters Classic, July 25 - 27, in such a convincing manner that he left the event with his new recognition - "current" champion - sounding more like a prophecy than a title.

Yelas put all of his faith, and his fate, up-river in Alabama's Lay Lake in a small stretch of cover located in the strong currents of the tailrace waters only about 200 yards from their source - the Logan Martin dam.  It was a daring gamble as the water-release schedules, controlled by the Alabama Power Company, are always tentative and subject to change without notice.  Yelas could only hope the trend of the previous days of the gates being opened around mid-morning would continue for each of the three tournament days.

"I would struggle to get a bite throughout the morning before the flow of water would start," Yelas explained.  "But fortunately, the gates were opened each day a little after 10, just as they had been for much of the summer, and the water came.  It would take about an hour and a half after the flow started for the water to raise the three feet I needed for the stretch I was fishing.  That only gave me about an hour and a half, two at most, of fishing time before weigh-in," he said.

Yelas used a fishing technique he likened to river fishing for trout - casting his lure upstream and controlling its drift downstream with his rod and line - letting the bait bounce in and out of the cover along a stretch of shoreline that caught the brunt of the flow.  He said it was hard to imagine the force of the current, and he credited his MotorGuide(r) trolling motor for his being able to hold the boat in the fast waters to allow him to fish the way he needed.

"You just can't believe how fast the water was here, I'm guessing 6 or 7 miles per hour," he said.  "I'd run my 109 pound thrust MotorGuide on high-bypass the whole time.  It got kind of funny, but camera and spectator boats that had any trolling motor other than the one I had couldn't hold with me and would drift downstream.  They'd have to use their big motors to advance back up to watch.  My trolling motor performance was a real tribute to MotorGuide's power and battery efficiency."

Each Classic boat was rigged with MotorGuide Tour 109 foot-controlled trolling motors utilizing a 36-volt system for maximum battery efficiency and delivering 109 pounds of thrust.  Tour motors come on MotorGuide's new Gator Spring-Return heavy-duty bow mounts.  MotorGuide is the oldest continuous Classic sponsor, in its 25th year.

Every boat angler familiar with the coordination efforts of running a trolling motor in current while fishing a "feel" bait like the jig and trailer Yelas was using can appreciate what he was able to do.  He had nine bites the first day, seven the second and only four on the third.  He weighed five-fish limits the first two days and had four fish on the last.

The Tyler, Texas angler led the Classic all three days, and he was only the third angler to have ever done so.  His winning weight of 45 pounds 13 ounces included the "big bass" for each day of the tournament: 6-2, 6-4 and 4-13, respectively.  It was the first time ever that a Classic winner had done that.

Yelas, fishing in his 12th BASS Masters Classic, said he and fellow bass pros have long realized the influence that water current has on positioning bass and making them bite.  But he also said that being able to fish in the extremely strong currents as close to their source as he was in this tournament has only been possible the last couple of years, thanks to MotorGuide.

"I honestly believe MotorGuide's introduction of efficient and powerful 36-volt trolling motors, and the mounts to hold them, have made it possible to hold our boats and fish in areas like this where we never could before," he said.  "It's like they've given us a whole new fishing technique."