Jul 28, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Whatever has been said about Onondaga Lake in the past, the 12 anglers that survived to the elimination round of this weekend’s Bassmaster Memorial were all in agreement that it is a productive place to fish.
Proof of that came on Saturday, when Dave Wolak took the lead in the quest for the $250,000 top prize by landing 22 pounds of largemouth bass, the largest one measuring 5 pounds 10 ounces.
Wolak leads defending Bassmaster Memorial champion Peter Thliveros by 19 ounces going into Sunday’s six-man finals.
From an original field of 51, it was cut down to 12 for the weekend, with Jeff Kriet holding off Kelly Jordon by a single ounce to gain that final spot.
Starting at 9 a.m., each of the remaining anglers had to spend an hour on each part of a six-hole “course” covering the entire span of Onondaga Lake. Once that was done, they each got a “happy hour” to try and find larger bass, an easier task here than in the first two days of competition on Oneida Lake.
Thliveros, called “Peter T” by fans and competitors, was the first to weigh in, and his total of 20 pounds 13 ounces beat anything seen on Oneida by more than three pounds.
Moments later, Wolak brought his big haul, including one largemouth that weighed 5 pounds 10 ounces, setting a target no one on this day would match.
Still, they had to cut down from 12 anglers to the final six that would square off on Sunday — and just like the previous day, it proved to be quite close.
First-day leader Steve Kennedy checked in at 20 pounds 3 ounces to qualify. John Murray moved ahead with 18 pounds 10 ounces, propelled by a giant of 5 pounds 12 ounces that was the largest single catch of the day. Jared Lintner, with his wife back home due to have a baby at any moment, found 18 pounds 8 ounces and also advances.
It came down to the last two anglers. Skeet Reese came in with 18 pounds 5 ounces, knowing that, if he advanced to Sunday’s finals, he would surpass the $1 million career mark in earnings.
However, Dean Rojas, the top qualifier from Oneida Lake, spoiled the day for Reese as his bass totaled 18 pounds 7 ounces.
So by a mere two ounces, Rojas was still alive, and Reese was out, despite the fact that he caught a bigger haul than anyone in the first two days. He joined Kriet, Jason Quinn, Mike Iaconelli, John Crews and Randy Howell as they were sent home.
They will launch again Sunday at 9 a.m. A day full of activities at Onondaga Lake Park will precede the final weigh-in at 6 p.m., where the big winner will be announced.
The standings going into the finals.
1. Dave Wolak, 22 pounds
2. Peter Thliveros, 20-13
3. Steve Kennedy, 20-3
4. John Murray, 18-10
5. Jared Lintner, 18-8
6. Dean Rojas, 18-7