Long runs paying off

BULLFROG, Utah — Ignoring the high price of gas, Arizona angler Jeff Guerrette ran around massive Lake Powell to catch Wednesday's leading stringer in the BASS Federation Nation Western Divisional.

Despite gas prices ranging from $3.30 to $3.40 per gallon in the area, Guerrette stuck with his strategy of running and gunning and fishing a variety of structure to amass a five-fish limit of 13 pounds, 14 ounces and top a field of 125 competitors.

The 32-year-old tile contractor from Glendale, Ariz., disclosed he caught more fish in practice but weather changes and fishing pressure slowed down the action.

"The fish seemed to get beat up a little bit with everybody practicing here," said the Surprise Bassmasters club member. "I just grinded it out today."

Earlier in the week, the competitors fished in a snowstorm and today the weather turned sunny with temperatures in the high 80s.

Competing in his first Divisional, Guerrette caught his fifth fish, a 6-14 largemouth that earned big bass honors for the day.

"The big one was a prespawn fish and some of the others I caught were postspawn fish."

The Western Divisional is the first of six regional qualifying events in which the top Federation Nation competitors advance to the BASS Federation Championship. The tournament includes both individual and team competition. The top finisher from each of Federation Nations in this divisional qualify for berths to the national championship.

Leading their states after Wednesday's competition are Guerrette (Arizona), James Hollingshead (Idaho), Jim Conlin (Montana), Mark Torrez (California), Fritz Staver (New Mexico), Jesse Milicevic (Nevada), Dan Jordan (Oregon), Matt Fisher (Utah), Dave Palmer (Washington), Scott Sheldon (Colorado) and David Albrecht (Wyoming).

Eleven Federation Nations are vying for a total payout of $58,000 in the team competition. The winning team will receive a Triton/Mercury Outboard rig which the Federation Nation can use to raffle off or for any other fund-raiser for the state chapter. The prize monies awarded to each state will be used for each Federation Nation's conservation, civic and outreach programs.

Montana tops Wednesday's team standings with a cumulative weight of 75 pounds, 11 ounces.

The Western Divisional weigh-ins begin at 5 p.m. ET at Bullfrog Marina. 

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