Central Open Series begins

Jasper, Texas — If there's one thing you can count on, it's old friends, and BASS has few older or better friends than Sam Rayburn Reservoir. For the 28th time, BASS will visit Sam Rayburn in east Texas, this time to kick off the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Central Open season, May 5-7.

The winner of the tournament will receive a $50,000 payday and a jumpstart towards the Open Championship, where top anglers will vie for cash prizes and berths in the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic and on the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Tour.

"Rayburn is an awfully good lake," Texas BASS pro Tommy Martin said. "The fishing ought to be real good, and there should be a variety of ways for guys to catch fish out there."

Although Rayburn is a great destination and the fishing should be great, the most effective baits and patterns are in question. The post-spawn conditions that the anglers are anticipating should mean that a variety of tactics will work. Topwaters and crankbaits are expected to be hot, but nothing is certain.

"There should be several different patterns going on out there," BASS pro David Wharton said. "There's a bunch of fish to be caught, and I think you'll see a lot of limits."

The Rayburn guide said that the timing of the tournament will force the pros to face some conditions they may not have seen before on the lake.

"The lake is slightly higher than normal, and the hydrilla is coming up some. Guys will be keying on two types of cover — bushes and shallow grass. The fish probably won't be very far from their spawning areas.

"I think there will be a lot more topwater bites than guys are used to, but a deep-running crankbait could do the trick as well. On the northern side of the lake, there's no hydrilla, and there are some cranking possibilities."

Regardless of the method, the bite figures to be good even though the fish are post-spawn. Limits should be plentiful, but, as always, the winner will have to come through with some big fish.

"They had a tournament at Rayburn just last week," Wharton said. "Three fish over 11 pounds were weighed in and there were six or seven over ten pounds. I know the big ones still live here."

Last year's Rayburn Open was won by Oklahoma's Edwin Evers, who posted a three-day total of 52 pounds, 15 ounces. A similar weight should be good enough to take the tournament again this year. Both Wharton and Martin estimated that 50 pounds would be good enough to win.

Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Open Series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops and Cialis (tadalafil).