Jimmy Mize takes Classic lead

PITTSBURGH — It's been a good week for the Mize family.

After BASS announced details regarding the Women's Bassmaster Tour — a new outlet for women anglers like Lucy Mize and daughter Melinda Mize to fish — Lucy's husband Jimmy Mize took the lead position on Day 1 in the 35th annual CITGO Bassmaster Classic.

The 49-year-old Arkansas pro took the early lead with a five-bass limit weighing 6 pounds, 2 ounces. His total towered above the catch of two pros tied for second with 5-1: Aaron Martens of Alabama and veteran Missouri pro Stacey King.

Classic rookie Preston Clark of Florida is in fourth place with 4-11, followed by former 2001 Classic champion Kevin VanDam with 4-11.

VanDam and King tied for Friday's Purolator Big Bass award. Each bagged a 2-pound, 14-ounce smallmouth. And as expected, smallmouth dominated Friday's catch.

"I didn't catch any spotted today," said Martens. "It was all smallmouth."

Day 1 leader Mize was rather secretive about his tactics, but did say he was getting keeper bites, though he couldn't hang onto all of them.

"I lost three good fish," he said. "But I did pretty well. I thought I could catch about 5 pounds and I did. I'd be excited about it if this was Day 3."

Second place Martens, a California transplant and reigning CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year, caught his bass by targeting bridges, he said. That same tactic enabled him to finish second in last year's Classic.

"This is just a tough situation," he said. "Usually when you have a lot of small fish, there's a way to catch the bigger fish. That might not be the case here."

King, also in second place, appeared satisfied with his results.

"I'm feeling real good about the way it's going," he said. "It went about the way I expected. I caught the big fish right before I came in. In fact, I caught all of my fish after 2 o'clock."

Clark, a 41-year-old air conditioning salesman from Palatka, Fla., is the only non-veteran among the top five. He caught 18 bass on Friday.

"I'm real happy with what I caught," said Clark, who finished second in the Toyota Rookie of the Year. "I had my limit by 7:30 a.m. and then hit about 30 to 35 spots looking for a bigger fish."

Fifth place VanDam, 37, is no stranger to the top portion of the Classic leaderboard. He used 10 rods rigged with a variety of lures to pound out four keeper bass.

"I really had no idea what I would be able to catch," the Michigan pro said. "I'm tickled to have what I caught. Tomorrow is going to be a challenge."

In other news, Federation competitor Gerry Jooste of Zimbabwe was disqualified from Day 1 after he ran through a no-wake zone less than an hour after launch.

Jooste had one fish at the time. According to Trip Weldon, BASS tournament director, Pennsylvania law states that the area between the three bridges are a no-wake zone from 3 p.m. Friday throughout the weekend.

"However, BASS imposed a no-wake (policy) for everyday," Weldon said. "Classic anglers were notified both in their pre-Classic briefing and in writing."

Saturday's second round begins with the launch at Point State Park at 7 a.m. Weigh-in begins at 4 p.m. at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. Earlier today, more than 5,300 fishing fans watched the weigh-in at the arena and about 2,000 visited Point State Park to see anglers launch.

Fans that couldn't make it to Pittsburgh can see live coverage of the Classic on ESPN from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST Saturday.

The 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic will receive unprecedented coverage on ESPN and ESPN2 this year. A total of 12 hours of programming will be devoted to Classic tournament coverage July 29-31.