Hughes takes Western Open on Shasta Lake

SHASTA LAKE, Calif. — A Redding, Calif., angler whose previous best BASS finish was 19th place six years ago in an Arizona BASS tournament swept the CITGO Bassmaster Western Open on Shasta Lake Saturday with a three-day total of 31 pounds, 6 ounces.

In an amazing run to the finish line, Howard Hughes jumped from 25th place on Day 1 to the top of the roster, overcoming second place Fred Roumbanis of Auburn, Calif., who had previously led the pack.

"I've fished for 27 years now. Before, I could not go off and win a Bassmaster tournament," said Hughes, who won a $50,000 prize package, including a Triton boat and Mercury motor. "But I kept fishing a lot of smaller tournaments, hoping one day to win the big one, and today I won."

Hughes, 60, fished an arm of Shasta Lake called Pit River, a place known by locals for its lack of bass. But within two hours of launch, Hughes had a five-fish limit. "This spot was so good to me … I caught so many fish I just stayed there and culled the rest of the day."

Roumbanis, meanwhile, finished with a total of 30-7. "It was a perfect day for fishing. I had plenty of strikes but all short strikes that would not get hooked."

Jared Lintner of Arroyo Grande, Calif., winner of the CITGO Bassmaster Western Open on Clear Lake last month, came in third with 30-1. Lintner also took his second Purolator Big Bass award of the tournament Saturday with a 4-9 bass. "This lake is always difficult for me to do well on and I was happy with my finish, but you always want to win."

As two of the top 15 anglers in the Western Open points standings, Lintner and Roumbanis will move on to compete for a berth into the CITGO Bassmaster Classic by fishing the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship on the Alabama River, Dec. 1-4, in Prattville, Ala. The top five boaters from that tournament advance to the 2006 Classic, Feb. 24-26, on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla.

Also, Non-boater Cody Meyer of Grass Valley, Calif., who held the lead on Day 2, took first place with a total weight of 25-3. In 15th place in the Western Open non-boater points standings, Meyer also will advance to the Open Championship. Non-boaters J.R. Wright of Truckee, Calif., and Chris Zaldain of San Jose, Calif., tied for Purolator Big Bass honors with bass weighing 2-13.

Location and Field

CITGO Bassmaster Western Open

Shasta Lake

Lake Shasta, Calif.