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It's 'Classic Yelas'All The Way
By Ed Snyder

-Tyler Texas Pro Quarterbacks "Super Bowl of Bass Fishing" To New Levels-

2002 ESPN/CITGO BASSMaster Classic, Lay Lake, Alabama.
Saturday, July 27, 2002, Jefferson Civic Center, Birmingham, AL.

With the help of the good Lord and the great state of Alabama, the sport of bass fishing was elevated to new levels that would rival those of the top four. Quarterbacking for the "Super Bowl of Bass Fishing", Jay Yelas, of Tyler TX, withstood three grueling days of competitive bass fishing by a 52 BASSMaster Classic angler field to take an impressive early lead, then managed to maintain his lead to out distance that field of world class anglers to goalpost an "incredible" forty-five pound-thirteen ounce "TOUCH-DOWN!!"

Day-1 BASS/Cap; Day-1 BASS/Cap; Overcast skies and threatening rain squalls adjusted the bass-i-tudes for 1st place leader Jay Yelas of Tyler TX, as Yelas "went to the mountain" today to catch his impressive 18-9 lb Classic lead. The 14 lb-1 oz catch of Castaic CA, BASS/Pro Aaron Martens, notched the 2nd place leading weight.

Day-2 BASS/Cap; Day-2; Day-1; "CUT-DAY" for the 52 angler field as only the top-25 leader-board finishers would be allowed to advance to the third, and final day, of this World Class BASS competition. Jay Yelas managed to maintain his first place lead by catching 16-9 lb weight for a total of 10 bass/35-2 lbs. David Walker of Sevierville edged in with his 10 bass/25-14 lb total weight to take over the 2nd place-leading slot.

Day-3; Clearing skies and cheering crowds enhanced the spirits of the top-25 BASSMasters who launched out of Paradise Point Marina on Lay Lake for the final day of this World Classic Competition that would finalize with an incredible finish by Tyler TX, Pro, Jay Yelas, who took the 32nd BASSMaster Classic Champion title with an incredible three day catch of 15 bass/45-lbs 13 ozs.

2002 Classic Champion-(45-13)- Tyler TX, Pro, Jay Yelas, managed to funnel his bass-fishing skills to finesse enough bass weight to claim the prestigious title of World Bass Classic Champion as well as becoming the only Champion to ever win all three daily big bass honors. "I give all my credits to the wonderful power of the Lord, announced a very visibly shaken and humbled bass/pro who was just handed his World Classic Trophy, "for without his glory, Yelas praised, all of this would not have been possible." And with that note of Christian humility touching the hearts of a HUGE Classic crowd that filled the stadium to the rafters of the Jefferson Civic Center in Birmingham, Alabama, Jay Yelas, and Family, took their "Tour of the Champions" around an arena that literally rumbled and shook from the roaring cheer of his appreciative fans.

("Follow Me and I Will Make You Fishers of Men")

Jay Yelas fished the final ambush point near the Logan-Martin Dam by using a one-two punch pattern of fishing a black/brown/pumpkin Berkley Power prototype jig with a 5/8 oz green/pumpkin Berkley Power frog and Team Daiwa 6 & 1 / 2 ft worm & jig rods. Yelas also fished deep-diving 3/8 oz Berkley Frenzy fire-tiger crank-baits and Berkley Popper type top-water baits. "My morning started with me chasing schooling bass along the deeper rock-ledges, rock-groins, and rock-points in the middle of the river with the crank-baits & top-water plugs until the Logan-Martin Dam started generating the water usually around 10am, Yelas advised, where I would then switch to my Berkley jig & frog pattern and start working shallower bank-ledges, lay-downs, and flooded brush & trees. After the water had risen to about 3 foot with a much stronger down-current flow, I would then start casting my Berkley jig up into the ripping currents and let it bump and roll back down-river along the bottom, Yelas informed, where my line would often bow making it very hard to detect those bass bites. This was actually striper water, Jay pointed out, but the bass were there feeding too as I found out by accident while testing those waters on my pre-fishing trips. I found that some large spotted and largemouth bass were mixed in with the stripers when the water was being generated, so I experimented with my jig styles and colors until I was able to pattern a solid bass bite. " My Trilene 25 lb test XT line and the MotorGuide Tour 109 model troll-motor with its powerful 109 lb thrust to help me stay in the strong, flowing currents became the key for my success here on Lay Lake, Yelas stressed, but with the good Lord as my fishing partner I was able to win my very first BASSMaster Classic event for the witnessing of his almighty glory".

2nd place -(39-9)- Aaron Martens of Castaic, CA, fished hard against the skills of Jay Yelas as both anglers worked the same waters and structure. "In fact, Aaron stated, Yelas and I shared several fishing spots together as we took turns working them as we fished around each other all three days. "Flipping and hopping hair-jigs within the rivers current became my #1 pattern, Martens informed, but you had to wait for at least an hour before the bass would move in to feed, where I would start fishing the lay-downs and rock-groins of the shallows. My jigs were white/chartreuse 3 / 8 oz hand-tied horsehair jigs for shallow-water patterns and 1 / 2 oz hand-tied horsehair jigs for the deeper water patterns. I also used shad-colored Spittin' Image crank-baits that worked very well for my top-water patterns. I really thought I had a good chance to win this event, Aaron informed, especially after catching two three-pound spots right off the bat. But it was Jay Yelas' turn to win the Classic this year, Martens stated, and just maybe my turn will come next year.

3rd place -(35-130- David Walker struggled to try and avoid the 3rd place syndrome of his Classic fishing career, but even while bringing in excellent weights for his Classic finish, the Sevierville TN, pro, could not avoid his 2nd Classic third place finish in as many years. "But this tournament was one of my best so far, Walker informed as he told of having a great time at this Classic event as this tournament reminded him of just why he enjoyed doing this. "I caught a mixed bag of largemouth and spotted bass, Walker informed, by using a 1 / 2 oz black/brown/amber Lake Fork tungsten jig with a green/pumpkin chunk dipped in chartreuse dye. I also used a Lucky-Craft top-water bait, and a Lake Fork Tube-bait on a 5 / 8 oz tungsten weight as well as a Lake Fork Texas-smoke 6" worm rigged Texas style. My rods were G-Loomis DLX 7 & 1 / 2 ft sticks with Shimano reels spooled with 25/30 lb test Stren and 14 lb test Pop-Eye fluorocarbon line. But my Lake Fork jig, Walker finalized, fished in the heavy, swirling currents of the river was my most productive pattern.

Top 25 BASSMasters;
1-(45-13)- Jay Yelas-Tyler, TX-$200,000
2-(39-09)- Aaron Martens-Castaic, CA-$55,000
3-(35-13)- David Walker-Sevierville, TN-$35,000
4-(31-06)- O.T. Fears-Sallisaw, OK-$17,500
5-(31-03)- Larry Nixon-Bee Branch, AR-$10,000
6-(31-01)- Ken Christ-Kansas City, MO-$8,000
7-(30-14)- Gary Yamamoto-Mineola, TX-$8,000
8-(30-13)- Kevin Worth- Crestwood, KY-$8,000
9-(29-10)- Davy Hite-Prosperity, S.C.-$8,000
10-(28-11)- Brent Chapman-Shawnee, KS-$8,000
11-(28-04)- Bud Pruitt-Spring, TX-$8,000
12-(28-03)- Todd Faircloth-Jasper, TX-$8,000
13-(26-05)- Tommy Martin-Hemphill, TX-$8,000
14-(26-02)- John Murray-Phoenix, AZ-$8,000
15-(25-04)- Stephen Browning-Hot Springs, AR-$8,000
16-(25-02)- Terry Scroggins-Palatka, FLA-$8,000
17-(24-09)- Robert Lee-Angels Camp, CA-$8,000
18-(24-07)- Tim Horton-Muscle Shoals, AL-$8,000
19-(24-03)- George Cochran, Hot Springs, AR-$8,000
20-(23-15)- Kelly Jordon-Mineola, TX-$8,000
21-(23-02)- Mark Davis-Mount Ida, AR-$8,000
22-(21-15)- David Wharton-Sam Rayburn, TX-$8,000
23-(20-08)- Alton Jones-Waco, TX-$8,000
24-(18-07)- Jimmy D. Mize-Ben Lomond, AR-$8,000
25-(17-12)- Erhardt Tulgestka-Alpena, MI-$8,000

As 52 adult BASSMasters vied for the world Classic title on Lay Lake, ten Bassmaster Casting Kid anglers were flipping, casting, and pitching for the CastingKids National Championships at the Jefferson Civic Center where two kids, who were among over 130,000 kids who participated nationally, managed to win their divisions as Benjamin Tawney, a10 year old from Parkton, N.C., and Rex Rodanas, a 12 year old from Bedford, N.H. scored winning points to take their championship titles for the 7-10 and the 11-14 age groups to earn trophies and $5,000 scholarship awards.

The "Luck-O-The-Draw" $35,000 Classic Edition Triton Bass Boat went to the lucky ticket held by Kevin & Tana Rawson of Jasper, TX.

As a special promotion sponsored by CITGO, CITGO store owners, Mr/Mrs Tim & Dawn Stegall, owner/operators of ERV's Quick Serve in Cordell OK, won the reel-out and reel-in competition, which awarded them the opportunity to cast through a 12" target to win $ONE MILLION$ dollars. Wife Dawn Stegall was chosen to make the cash-cast in front of a Classic crowd of over 30,000, but missed, which then awarded her the $35,000 runner-up prize of a 2003 fully rigged CITGO/Triton Bass-Boat.

A Classic Show also entertained the pre weigh-in crowd as country/western music artists Jessica Andrews, Phil Vasser, and The Greatest Fishing Band helped to liven up the audience with some amazing vocals.

All bass recovered and live released by the BASSMaster fish recovery team with assistance by the U.S. Fisheries and Alabama Wildlife & Fisheries Depts.
Day-1 Tally- 217 bass weighing 383.10 lbs.
Day-2 Tally- 206 bass weighing 350.07 lbs.
Day-3 Tally- 117 bass weighing 227-5 lbs.

Day-1 Overall Big Bass-(6-2)- Jay Yelas/Tyler, TX-$1,000
Day-2 Overall Big Bass-(6-4)- Jay Yelas/Tyler, TX-$1,000
Day-3 Overall Big Bass-(4-13)- Jay Yelas/Tyler, TX-$1,000

For more information, contact B.A.S.S. Communications at (334) 272-9530.

ESPN/ESPN2 provided same-day coverage of the Classic which aired from 5-6 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 July 22-24; 4-6 p.m. on ESPN2 July 25 and 26; and 7-11:30 a.m. on ESPN2 and 7-8 p.m. on ESPN July 27. For info on ESPN/ESPN2 re-broadcasting times contact B.A.S.S. Communications at (334) 272-9530 - or click to

This BASS Classic Report sponsored by; Lakecaster Publications (Lake Sam Rayburn-Lake Toledo Bend-Lake Livingston)- - Yamamoto Baits of Lake Toledo Bend and Mineola TX- The Stump Restaurant and Club of Sam Rayburn- Rayburn Tackle of Sam Rayburn- Ann's Tackle Shop of Jasper, TX- The Jasper Newsboy Weekly Newspaper-

David Walker of Sevierville TN, lands the third place Classic slot

Classic CastingKids win their trophies and awards
< photos by Ed Snyder >

“I give all my credits to the wonderful power of the Lord, stated a visibly shaken and humbled Jay Yelas

Arron Martens of Castaic, CA, takes the 2nd place Classic Win
Jay Yelas, and Family, takes their “Tour of the Champions” around an arena that literally rumbled and shook from the roaring cheer of his appreciative fans.

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