STOCKTON, Calif. One month ago Ron Colby qualified for bass fishing's world finals by advancing from the amateur bass fishing championship. Today he won the B.A.S.S. Federation Western Divisional tournament held on northern California's Delta. Colby, of West Jordan, Utah, caught 15 bass during the three-day contest weighing 43 pounds, 3 ounces.
It was a close finish. Colby won the tournament by a one-fish margin over Arizona's Dave Mehalechko whose 14 fish weighed 42-15.
By winning the tournament, Colby returns to the 2003 CITGO B.A.S.S. Federation Championship, the very tournament that advanced him to the 2002 BASS Masters Classic where he will represent the Federation's Western Division on Alabama's Lay Lake. Colby is one of five regional amateur qualifiers from the Federation who will go rod-to-rod with the pros for the world title.
Colby earned the Western Divisional win by competing like a seasoned pro. While many of his peers ran all over the Delta to catch their fish, he and a few other anglers committed to one area to maximize their time and keep a lure wet.
"Some of the fish were spawning and others were done," he noted. "And then we had the cold front come through earlier in the week. On top of that, the tide was a factor. So when you factor all of that in, it made sense to stay in one area and work it hard."
To stay a leg up on the tide, Colby used two different baits that allowed him to catch fish from his area without having to go on the hunt for better water. On the low tide, he flipped and dead-sticked a Gary Yamamoto Lures Senko (watermelon/green/pumpkinseed) that he Texas-rigged on a 4/O Gamakatsu hook. The rig was fished without a weight on a 7 1/2-foot Warrior Rod with 20-pound test Yamamoto Sugoi fluorocarbon line and a Shimano Curado reel.
The bait was flipped to the outside edges of milfoil, rocks and pilings. "What the fish were doing was backing off a flat on low tide and holding to the cover until the tide came back up," he noted.
When the tide flooded the flat and covered the outside habitat, he switched to a Pepper Jig Baits buzzbait (white) with a silver blade. The bait was fished on a 7-foot Warrior Rod with 16-pound Sugoi line and a Shimano Curado reel. "The key was to make super long casts," he said. "The fish were up on the flat to feed and they were holding in big clumps of milfoil.
"The main thing I did, though, was stay with the two areas all three days," he said. "There's not one piece of isolated cover that I didn't hit every day. The key was to fish the outside and deeper water on the low tide and move up on the flat with the high tide."
As expected, the Delta produced at least one double-digit largemouth. The 10-6 trophy caught by California's Cris Vanclef also came on a Senko, which is bidding to be the hottest lure on the tournament circuit.
By virtue of catching the most weight on their respective state teams, Vanclef, Mehalechko and Colby have advanced to the 2003 Federation Championship next spring at a site to be determined. Other state leaders include Trent Menees (Washington), Chuck Rizuto (New Mexico), Jay Evans (Montana), Michael Gibney (Oregon), Tom Schachten (Wyoming), Dusty Womack (Idaho), and Larry Triplett (Colorado).
Forty-six state leaders will compete in the championship with their peers from Canada, Italy, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Japan. The top five from each division, including the western, advance to the 2003 Classic.
California won the battle of between the states with its team catching a collective weight of 372-7. Washington came in second with 339-10 and New Mexico was third with 315-8. Montana took fourth place with 292-14, and Arizona was fifth with 290-6.
"This was a great win for our guys," said Gary Bradford, president of the winning Federation. "They all qualified for this tournament from this fishery and 11 of the 12 are from northern California. That was the only edge we had here. The other teams were very competitive and we feel lucky to get the win."
Overall, the 12-angler teams from 10 states caught 1,420 bass weighing a collective 2,932-7.
By sanctioning over 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its B.A.S.S. Federation network of bass clubs, 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 B.A.S.S. Federation Western Divisional tournament are: CITGO Petroleum Corporation, Chevrolet, Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Eagle Claw, B.A.S.S. Platinum Visa/First USA Bank, Flowmaster, GMAC Insurance, W.L. Gore and Associates Inc., Kumho Tires, Long John Silver's, Lowrance, Mercury Marine, MotorGuide/Quantum, Skeeter, Triton, and Yamaha.
For additional information contact: B.A.S.S. Communications at (334) 272-9530.