Mt. CLEMENS, Mich. When the CITGO BASSMASTER Tour last visited Lake St. Clair in August of 1999, Arkansas' Larry Nixon won with 73 pounds, 9 ounces. By catching 17-8 on Friday, he set the stage for history to repeat itself.
Nixon's 50 pound, 1 ounce total gives him a 1 pound, 6 ounce lead over second place Davy Hite.
"I think that I can catch five more tomorrow," said Nixon, who is third on the all-time B.A.S.S. money list. "I saw Tommy Martin's partner catch a bass using a big jighead, so I tried that and caught two big ones on a heavy jighead inside my tube. It's little things like that which can make a difference."
South Carolina's Hite has 48-11 entering the final round. In third with 47-6 is Arkansas pro Scott Rook followed by Texas's Gary Klein at 46-13. Indiana's Chip Harrison, the previous day's leader, slipped to fifth with 45-9.
"Every fish I've brought in this week has been from one small area," said Hite, the 1999 CITGO BASS Masters Classic champion. "I've been scared to beat the area up too much this week, but I think there are five more in there. Larry has a great history on this lake and he is always tough to beat."
Other anglers making the lucrative final round include: Florida's Peter Thliveros, 43-6; New Jersey's Kota Kiriyama; Illinois' Tom Burns, 43-3; Michigan's Kevin VanDam, 43-1 and Texan Bill Wilcox, 42-15.
Steve Kline of Fort Wayne, Ind., claimed the $35,000 prize as the top amateur with a three-day total of 34-2. Coldwater, Mich.'s Jeff Uetrecht claimed the $400 big bass bonus for a 4-15 smallmouth..
Hockey star Pat Verbeek of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings finished 37th with 18-4 in the amateur division to win $500 in prize money. Even though he claimed a check, the hockey veteran doesn't see a future as a professional angler.
"I had an awesome time," said Verbeek, a two-time NHL all-star. "I have a lot of respect for these guys and what they do. It is a lot of hard work and sacrifice that most people don't realize."
Dave Barnes of Weeks Mill, Maine claimed the $1,000 for the big bass in the pro division with a 5-3 smallmouth.
Anglers in the event are competing for a share of an overall purse of $478,000.
The final weigh-in will take place at Metro Beach Metropark beginning at 3 p.m. Anglers launch beginning at 6:20 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. B.A.S.S. is a wholly owned subsidiary of ESPN.
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For more information contact: B.A.S.S. Communications at (334) 272-9530.