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Legendary Pro Rick Clunn takes Citgo BASSMasters Central Open Division
By Patty Lenderman

Oct. 31 - Nov 2, 2002
Twin Dikes Marina
Lake Sam Rayburn

The CITGO BASSMasters came to Lake Sam Rayburn for their 26th time and held their final of three Central Division Open Pro/Am's. With 207 in the pro division and 198 amateurs, these anglers spent the first two days of this three day event trying to get into the top 50 in each division with pounds to qualify to fish the final day of competition. The pro division competed for a total purse of $242,200 and a first-place prize of $50,000. The amateurs split up $78,750, while competing for the $24,000 top prize. The competition was tough with long-term pro's and legends like Harold Allen, Zell Rowland, Tommy Martin, Rick Clunn and many others as well as a lot of younger pro's in the playing field. Familiar faces of those who had just fished the CITGO BASSMaster classic in Birmingham Alabama this past July were competing in this event. It was Rick Clunn, legendary BASSMaster Pro who ultimately took the tournament with ounces to spare.

Day one recap: The tournament began October 31, a wet, cold and windy day with many limits brought to the scales. In the pro division, Slade Dearman of Onalaska blasted into first place lead with a weight of 22- 1, nearly a 5 lb lead over Ray Scheide of Cookson, OK who landed second place lead with 17-12. Rick Clunn of Ava, MO seized the third place slot with 17-12. Big bass honors went to Slade Deerman with an impressive 9-5 hawg.

Day two recap: The entire field fished again on day 2 trying to get enough weight to qualify for day 3 where only the top 50 anglers from each division would fish. With water temperatures dropping five degrees or more and water levels fluctuating these anglers had to scramble to keep on top of their fish. Many could not get to the fish they had found in practice due to the high winds and waves handed to them in competition. The leader board shifted as Rick Clunn brought in another 17+ lb sack to lead the tournament with a total of 34-14. Clayton Meyer of San Diego, CA came from 27th place on day one to take second place lead with a 21-2 day sack giving him a two day total weight of 32-2. Slade Deerman dropped to third place with a two day total of 31-1. Aaron Nelson of Earlham, IA brought in big bass day two with a 6-5.

In the co-angler division Charles Simmons of Waco, TX took first place lead with a two day weight of 20-4. Right behind him in second place was Paul Ferguson of Arp, TX with 19-11 and in third place lead Rick Skidmore of Lumberton, TX with 18-9. Big bass in the co-angler division for day 2 was Jeff Snyder of Royse City, TX with a 7-13 lb'r.

Day three whittled down to 100 anglers, and they were fishing hard for their part of the $320,000 in cash and prizes to be won in this event. The wind and rain did not give way very much for the final day of competition. These anglers had been fighting the elements and fishing against tough competition for three days to come to the scales one final time to not only see who would win this event but also five pros would ultimately secure their spot in the 2003 BASSMaster Classic in New Orleans.

Everyone was watching the top three leaders as well as for any surprise super sack of fish to see who would take the tournament. Fish Fishburn and Pee Wee kept the anglers and spectators on excited edge as each angler came to the scales with what was needed from them to win the tournament. In the pro division, Slade Dearman came in with a sack of 11-10 and momentarily took the lead with a three day total of 42-11. He was hopeful but did not believe it would be enough to win the tournament. Clayton Meyer weighed in at 10-13 beating Slade's weight by four ounces with a total of 42-15. Weights stacking up tight, it was Rick Clunn's turn to weigh in. He only needed a weight of 8-2 to take the tournament. His sack totaled 8-8 and he won the tournament by mere ounces !

1st place pro - 43 lb 6 oz - ($50,000 in cash/prizes) -Rick Clunn is "one of the most consistent anglers in the sport, having qualified for a record 28 consecutive CITGO BASS Masters Classics - qualifying every year since becoming a professional angler. Clunn is also the leader in CITGO BASS Masters Classic victories, having won fishing's biggest event an amazing four times" according to BASS. Rick reported that the wind and muddied water helped him in his main area, but he had to move around every day for his big bass. Fishing creeks in 4-8' grassy areas, he used Deep Baby N's in white and shad colors as well as a small profile Stanley spinnerbait in a shad color. Rick said "Rayburn is my home lake and it's nice to come back and win this event". Rick is sponsored by Tracker Nitro Boats and Bass Pro Shops.

2nd place pro -42 lb 15 oz - ($40,000 in cash/prizes)- Clayton Meyer had never fished these Texas waters before and this style of fishing was totally new to him. Using a very old bait, all the paint knocked off of it long before and re-painted, he says he just "got lucky". This is his 3rd year fishing the tour but his first time fishing in the south. Clayton is sponsored by Hobie Sunglasses - Bait Breath - Evola Rods

3rd place pro - 42 lb 11 oz - ($35,000 in prizes) - Slade Dearman fished the north lake area off of creek beds in 3-8' grassy areas. Using ½ oz Strike King Diamond Shad baits in chrome/blue as well as Carolina rigged watermelon/purple trick worms he watched as the wind pushed the bait fish into pockets and fished his baits accordingly. He used a rattle trap for some of his catch and had one straighten his hook day 2. He had another on that pulled his boat but never got to see it.

Top 10 Pro's:
1st - (43 lb 6 oz) - Rick Clunn
2nd - (42 lb 15 oz) - Clayton Meyer
3rd - (42 lb 11 oz) - Slade Dearman
4th - (37 lb 4 oz) - Yusuke Miyazaki
5th - (34 lb 3 oz) - Cody Bird
6th - (34 lb 0 oz) - Edwin Evers
7th - (33 lb 10 oz) - James Mynagh
8th - (33 lb 9 oz) - Mike Gough
9th - (32 lb 11 oz)- Greg Hackney
10th - (32 lb 11 oz) - Stacey King (tie placement determined by coin toss)

1st place co-angler - 31 lb 12 oz - ($24,000 in prizes) - Rick Skidmore of Lumberton, TX used DD-22's in color #147 for his catch. Fishing 3-12' grass near creek channels, his best bite came around 10am but had an all day bite. Rick is sponsored by Mercury / Ranger and Allstar Rods.

2nd place co-angler - 25 lb 2 oz. - ($12,000 in prizes) - Paul Ferguson of Arp, TX caught his fish on Rattle Traps in a chrome pattern. 1:00 was his best bite on day 3 fishing 2-3' grassy coves. He reported that the wind made it very tough to get on the grass beds but had a great tournament despite the weather.

3rd place co-angler - 24 lb 2 oz - ($4,000 in cash) - Marcos Salgado, Jr. of Carthage, TX used a Tennessee Shad ½ oz rattle trap in 2-4' creek edges for his catch. He fished the south end of the lake along grass and stump lines and said the best bite came early. He reported that his pro partner Cody Bird put it on him pretty hard, but he learned a lot from him. Marcos is sponsored by Mercury and Kistler Rods.

Top 10 Co-Anglers:
1st - (31 lb 12 oz) - Rick Skidmore
2nd - (25 lb 2 oz) - Paul Ferguson
3rd - (24 lb 2 oz) - Marcos Salgado, Jr.
4th - 23 lb 14 oz) - Kendall Martin
5th - (23 lb 2 oz) - Douglas Robison
6th - (22 lb 14 oz) - Jeff Snyder
7th - (21 lb 5 oz) - Ben Rude
8th - (20 lb 14 oz) - Todd Thompson
9th - (20 lb 6 oz) - Kit Getchell
10th - (20 lb 4 oz) - Charles Simmons

The top five from the season points standings from the CITGO BASSMASTER Central Opens earn berths in the 2003 CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic in New Orleans, La. next August. Additionally, the top 15 in points after this
final Central Open tournament will qualify for the CITGO BASSMASTER Tour, which begins on Florida's Harris Chain of Lakes in January. Congratulations to the five Central Division Open CITGO BASS Masters Classic Qualifiers:
1 - Greg Hackney of Oak Ridge, LA
2 - Edwin Evers of Mannsville, OK
3 - Mike Gough of Gainesville, FL
4 - Homer Humphries of Minden, LA
5 - Chad Morgenthaler of Coulterville, IL

This event has been presented by Busch Beer and is presented locally by the Jasper/Lake Sam Rayburn Chamber of Commerce, 409-384-2762.

Sanctioning over 20,000 tournament events worldwide through its Federation, B.A.S.S. has become the world's largest bass tournament fishing organization making the CITGO BASS Master tournament trail the oldest and most prestigious pro/bass fishing tournament circuit as it continues to set the standards for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship after more than three decades of tournament operations.

Sponsors of the CITGO Bass Masters Open Central event include: Citgo Petroleum Corp - Bush Beer - Chevrolet Trucks - Mercury Marine - Yamaha Outboards - Triton Boats - Skeeter Boats - Lowrance Electronics - Flowmaster Exhaust Systems - Kumho Tires - Long John Silver's - Motorguide Trolling Motors - Bass Pro Shops - Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools - and BASS platinum VISA / First USA - Bass Cat Boats - G3 Boats - and the Central Open BASS Master anglers.

Legendary Pro Rick Clunn wins the CITGO BASS Master Open

Rick Clunn shows some of his winning stringer
< photos by Patty Lenderman>

Rick Skidmore wins 1st place Co-Angler division

(L-R) Greg Hackney, Homer Humphries, Mike Gough, Edwin Evers and Chad Morgenthaler will be at the 2003 BASS Masters Classic in New Orleans

Pro Clayton Meyer showing his day 3 second place overall catch with the help of Fish Fishburn and Pee Wee

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