Day Three Western Divisional Results
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Oregon's Mike Baskett began the final day of the BASS Federation Nation Western Divisional with a slim lead, but he was worried that pressure on his waters from other anglers would make it difficult to clinch the win"I knew that the Zoo was getting a whole lot of pressure," Baskett said.The Zoo is the local's name for Hipton Lake, an old flooded pasture along the Coeur d'Alene system's St. Joe River.Baskett, who won last year's divisional and went on to earn a slot at the 2008 Bassmaster Classic through the Federation Nation Championship, began the day determined just to beat out the rest of his state team members to move on to the national championship."I wasn't real confident I could win the overall competition," he said.That soon changed, however.
Baskett's confidence was boosted early when he changed from flipping a ditch to working a spinner bait along the edge of some dead coontails.
"Last night, during the team meeting, one of the team members said he found a pattern on spinner baits, so that's the first thing I did this morning," Baskett said. "I caught three fish for about 11 pounds in the first half hour."That really put me at ease."Chatter with other anglers in the area also helped Baskett focus.
"When we started talking to anglers on the water, we realized it was a tough day," he said.After the spinner bait bite died, Baskett quickly went back to his primary pattern: pitching a 4-inch, Texas-rigged tube along a submerged grass line in the back of Hipton Lake off the St. Joe River branch of Coeur d'Alene Lake.
While Hipton Lake averages about 3 feet deep, Baskett found a ditch that held 6 feet of water running right along the bank.
Pitching his tube along the inside of the grass line, using a 3/8-ounce tungsten weight to pull the plastic lure through the vegetation along the ditch, Baskett quickly filled out his limit.
"I finished my limit just before noon," he said. "My scale said I had 17 pounds and, at that point, I thought I had the team thing locked up."
As it turned out, Baskett had built a 17-pound, 2-ounce stringer that not only earned him the top spot among the 11 other Oregon state team members but maintained his overall lead by more than 2 pounds.Winning the overall title was an accomplishment that sets him up for another strong showing at the national championship scheduled for November at Kansas' Milford Lake, Baskett said.
"I think this (divisional) is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome," he said. "We had a lot of top-quality anglers at this event."
Joining Baskett at the national championship will be the top finishers of the other 10 state teams that participated in the divisional event. These qualifiers and the states they represent are Jeff Guerrette, Arizona; Pat Wilson, California; Dave Gerhardt, Colo.; Brandon Palaniuk, Idaho; Jay Evans, Mont; Tim Myers, Nev.; Franco Vallejos, N.M.; Rick Culver, Utah; Les Whitley, Wash.; and Bubba O'Neill, Wyo.Idaho's 12 home-state members claimed the top team prize of a Triton/Mercury/Lowrance package valued at more than $30,000. Those anglers built an impressive 375-pound three-day total to outdistance their nearest competitors by almost 13 pounds.The Oregon Federation Nation team came in second with 362-5, with New Mexico taking third with 298-6.Although Idaho's win was impressive, that team actually lost ground on the final day. Team members had amassed a 30-pound cushion after the event's first two days.
"I think today we were all going out there trying to get that $1,000 (for big fish)," team captain Rick Kraack said.
A drastic weather change, moving from overcast and cold to sunny and warm that began melting snow caps in the upper elevations around the lake, resulted in cold runoff flowing into the Coeur d'Alene system and making the bite much more difficult.
However, Kraack said half of Idaho's state team hails from the area surrounding Coeur d'Alene Lake, and that helped the members continue catching fish."We knew how to work around that," he said. "We knew what little bays to tuck back into to get away from that runoff."
This is the second of six regional qualifiers for the BASS Federation Nation Nation Championship. The next qualifier is the Central Divisional set for June 22-27 at South Dakota's Lewis and Clark Reservoir Yankton.
Regional CastingKids and Junior Bassmaster contests also are being held in conjunction with the Federation Nation divisionals this year. Both Western Divisional youth competitions will be held tomorrow at Coeur d'Alene, with the Junior Bassmaster competitors launching at 6 a.m. from Higgins Point. The CastinKids event will begin at 12:30 p.m. at Higgins Point, and will be followed by the Junior Bassmaster at 2 p.m.