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Kentucky Pro Sets Lead At N'Orleans BASS Classic
By Ed Snyder

31st Annual BASSMaster World Classic Championship
Thursday, August 2, 2001, New Orleans, LA.

"Lord, we thank you for this "glorious" day and for this beautiful country that we live in that allows us to enjoy such a wonderful sport as bass fishing and may God bless and protect everyone of these outstanding pro/anglers, federation anglers, and media observers who're about to embark on this first day of competition for the 2001 BASSMaster's Classic. And with that prayerful start from launch director Tripp Weldon, forty five of our Worlds finest bass anglers navigated their Skeeter, Triton, Basscat, and G-3 bass-rigs through the Bayou's of Segnette State Park for the official start of the 31st BASSMaster World Classic Championship in New Orleans, Louisiana.

This event marks the final stop of the 2001 BASSMaster tournament tour that witnessed Missouri Pro Mark Davis winning his 3rd BASS Angler of the Year title, and saw the amazing fishing exploits of Arizona BASS/Pro Dean Rojas who managed to overshadow an already sensational season with his incredible record "shattering" Top-150 catch from the bass fertile waters of Florida's Lake Toho, and his back to back Top-150 win on the sprawling Texas/Louisiana border lake of Toledo Bend for a $220,000 payday. But it all will be put on the line here in New Orleans, Louisiana, this week as the bass fishing skills of the professional anglers would be challenged by those of the coal miners, restaurant cooks, lab techs, janitors, and construction workers of the Federation anglers, which provides the depth of field for the essence of what the BASSMasters are all about.

Day-1 Typical hot, muggy S/E Louisiana "summering" weather conditioned the bass bite for first day competition for the Classic anglers who were plying the waterways of the Mississippi River Delta to hopefully catch enough weight to "high-five" their leader-board marks for day-1 competition. But as they were flipping, dragging, or cranking their chosen bass patterns, a tropical weather system began moving towards the Gulf of Mexico that could quite possibly change the whole outcome of the 2001 BASSMaster Classic. But those who managed to wade through the crab-traps and redfish feeding frenzies today to catch a 5 bass limit managed to weigh-in an unusually low tally that would put the top 5 leader-board marks to within but 2.2 lbs of each other.

1st place leader- (5 bass/12-4 lbs)- David Walker of Cannon KY, "I haven't paid much attention to the storm that is reported to be coming into the gulf, stated Walker as he explained that he hadn't been watching the weather channel like most anglers do as he knew that it would only have an effect on how long he could fish. "I know where I'm going and what it is I plan on doing when I get there, Walker explained as he told the crowd that he had plenty of confidence in what he had to do to win this classic event.

2nd place leader- (5 bass/11-13 lbs)- Harold Allen of Huxley TX, "This is a guessing game for me, stated Harold Allan as he informed having to fish differently every day of his pre-classic practice. "I've had a good day today as I caught my first bass on my first spot then managed to catch progressively throughout the day for a decent quality limit of delta bass. "The key to winning this Classic event, Harold advised, "will be to catch at least 8 or 9 lbs of bass everyday with "hopefully" a nice 4 to 5 lb "kicker" to top it all off with. "But, Harold stated, "I hear that Mother Nature may step right in the middle of it all now!

3rd place leader- (5 bass/11-5 lbs)- Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo MI, "It wasn't an easy day for me today, VanDam stated, "as he told of having to keep moving in order to catch his weight today. "But I've learned some pretty important things today as I've found that the pattern is changing and I have to expand on the patterns that I came up with today in order to win this Classic event. "But even with the storm edging close with its blowing winds and choppy waters, these conditions should actually help me catch more bass as the tepid water conditions are revitalized with improved oxygen levels. "The key here, Kevin advised, "will be to have the right set of conditions with the right set of fish and to be a little lucky to have the right set of baits for catching them.

4th place leader- (5 bass/11-1 lbs)- Robert Lee of Angels Camp CA, "Compared to my fishery back home in the California Delta, these fish are much easier to catch. "I had a bad practice but have had a good day today, he informed. "I'm choosing main-lake type structure with big drains coming out of them, he advised as he told of searching his fishing map for finding these likely places that may be holding quality bass.

5th place leader- (5 bass/10-2 lbs)- Dwayne Horton of Knoxville TN, "This is my first Classic, stated a very tired Dwayne Horton as he informed that he was just too excited to get any sleep "because" of that fact. "But the fish I found today, he explained, were easy to catch and I'm looking forward to the next two days of competition. "I'm fishing Zoom brush-hogs in 2' of water in the Delacroix area where I'm flipping into the structure to catch my bass.

Day-1 Overall Big Bass- (4-11 lbs)- Jay Yelas of Tyler TX.

All bass recovered and released by BASSMaster fish recovery & Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Dept. Day-1 Tally-129 bass weighing

By sanctioning over 20,000 tournaments worldwide, B.A.S.S. is the world's largest fishing organization. The 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.

For additional information contact: B.A.S.S. Communications at (334) 272-9530.

The 2001 BASS Masters Classic is presented locally in conjunction with: the State of Louisiana, Jefferson Parish Tourism and Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.
Sponsors of the 2001 BASS Masters Classic include: Chevrolet Trucks, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Pennzoil Marine, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Stowaway Batteries, Kumho Tires, Long John Silvers, Gore-Tex Outwear, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, Bass Pro Shops, Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools, GMAC Vehicle & Boat Insurance, B.A.S.S. Platinum First USA Visa Card. Associate Sponsors include: Bass Cat Boats, G3 Boats- "and" the 2001 season BASSMaster Classic Qualifiers.

This Classic Report Sponsored By and Lakecaster Publications.

"AND THEY'RE OFF as the 31st BASS Classic flight takes off for day-1 competition

David Walker of Cannon KY leads with 12-4 lbs
< photos by Ed Snyder >

Tyler TX, Pro Jay Yelas hefts his 4-11 lb "Delta" bass to the crowd to take first day big bass honors

Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo MI, puts 11-5 lbs in the basket for 3rd place lead

Huxley TX, Pro Harold Allan edges in with 11-13 lbs to nab 2nd place lead

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