Gutierrez leaving Elites

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Greg Gutierrez has announced he's withdrawing from the 2008 Bassmaster Elite Series season to take care of his ailing wife.

 "It is with great sadness that I must inform my bass fishing family that I cannot continue competing in the Elite Series this year," the two-time Classic qualifier and full-time California firefighter wrote in a letter to BASS as he sought an emergency medical exemption. "My wife of 21 years, Bobbie, was recently diagnosed with two masses in her lungs, one on the left and one on the right."

 Gutierrez, 46, of Red Bluff, Calif., will miss the final five Elite tournaments to care for his wife of 21 years. Bobbie, a long-time cancer survivor, is scheduled to have tumors removed June 10.

 "I am Bobbie's only caregiver and she will need me to be there for her, as she has always been there for me, no matter if it was firefighting, or fishing or something else.

 "Considering the recovery time in the hospital as well as follow-up care at home, I see no possible way to continue competing in the Bassmaster Elite Series this year. It would be impossible to fish and provide the care she needs.

 "I am sorry I cannot continue, but 21 years ago I made a promise to Bobbie in front of God, our families and our friends that I would love her, care for her and be there for her in sickness and in health. I will keep that promise. It's a privilege to do so.

 "Please hug your family and keep us in your prayers."

 Gutierrez said that he hopes to return to the Elite Series once Bobbie's recovery is complete.