LAKEPORT, Calif. — Heading into Saturday's action, Greg Gutierrez of Red Bluff, Calif., held a commanding 10-pound plus lead but the 45-year-old relinquished more than eight pounds of that lead to hard-charging Bassmaster Elite Series angler Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala. Gutierrez leads the 2006 Toyota Rookie of the Year Kennedy by more than one pound heading into the final day of action at the Golden State Shootout presented by Evan Williams Bourbon.
With a three-day total of 91 pounds, 14 ounces, Gutierrez, who serves as a firefighter when he is not traveling to Elite Series events, is within striking distance of the BASS record for four-day heaviest catch. The record is currently held by Florida's Preston Clark with 115 pounds, 15 ounces and was set on South Carolina's Santee Cooper Reservoir in April 2006.
"I think my area is starting to run out," Gutierrez said, whose last BASS win came in California on Lake Shasta in 2004. "I have to change things up to win this tournament and the key to winning against this competition is to make adjustments."
The two-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, who is throwing a swimbait and working a jig slowly, brought in consecutive 30-pound plus limits during the first two days of competition. Despite posting another quality limit of more than 25 pounds Saturday, he ceded ground to both Kennedy and California's Skeet Reese.
It was a quick start for Kennedy that propelled him into contention. The 2006 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year runner-up is working three different swimbaits and had more than 33 pounds of bass in his livewell by 7:30 a.m.
"This lake is awesome," the 37-year-old said. "I kept running new water today [Saturday] and it seemed everywhere I stopped, I got them to bite. I have some areas that I am really confident in for tomorrow [Sunday] but I will still continue to look for new water."
Just ounces behind Kennedy was Reese of Auburn, Calif., with 89 pounds, 12 ounces. The two-time BASS winner put himself in contention to win another BASS event with a 35-pound, 7-ounce limit Saturday. It has been a remarkable run for Reese of late as he has posted five top-10 finishes in his last six BASS events, including a second-place showing at the 2007 Bassmaster Classic.
"This is the biggest limit of my career," the 37-year-old said. "I ran to my good areas today and I was hitting spots and just making a few casts before moving on. If I didn't get a bite, I was gone to another spot. It worked great."
Rounding out the top five were Jared Lintner of Arroyo Grande, Calif., in fourth with 79 pounds, 13 ounces; and Paul Elias of Laurel, Miss., in fifth with 79 pounds, 10 ounces.
The top 12 anglers moved on to fish Sunday and included 2006 Bassmaster Major winners: Scott Rook of Little Rock, Ark., in 11th with 74 pounds, 12 ounces; and Peter Thliveros of Jacksonville, Fla., in 12th with 74 pounds, 11 ounces.
In the co-angler division which ended Saturday, Jim White of Westlake Village, Calif., totaled 72 pounds, 9 ounces, over three days to take home the top prize of a Triton/Mercury boat rig valued at $50,000.
Finishing behind White were Ron Tyson of Marrietta, Ga., with 66 pounds, 2 ounces, and Bob Myskey of Nice, Calif., with 63 pounds, 5 ounces.
The tournament launch of the final day of the "Golden State Shootout presented by Evan Williams Bourbon" will begin Sunday from Lakeport's Library Park at 6:50 a.m. PT. Viewers can see all the live action of the launch at www.espnoutdoors.com.
The weigh-in festivities will kick off with "Hooked Up" hosted by ESPN Outdoors personalities Tommy Sanders and Jerry McKinnis starting at 3 p.m. PT on www.espnoutdoors.com. After "Hooked Up", live weigh-in action can also be seen on the site.
Weigh-ins of the final day of the "Golden State Shootout presented by Evan Williams Bourbon" will begin Saturday from Lakeport's Library Park at 3:00 p.m. PT and can be viewed at www.espnoutdoors.com.