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WON BASS Western Classic Pro Championships

Darrin Bishop pulls a big bag and a big bass out of Naci to take the WON BASS Western Classic

Darrin Bishop wins 2011 Western Classic

THE WINNER OF 2011 WON BASS WESTERN CLASSIC, and recipient of a brand-new Nitro Z-7/Mercury motor combo was Darrin Bishop, center, pictured with his children and second-place Pro Mike Folkestad, and WON BASS Director of Operations, Billy Egan.


 

PASO ROBLES - Darrin Bishop sat in third place after the first day of the WON BASS Western Classic, which took place on lakes San Antonio and Nacimiento (the former fishery on day one, and the latter on day two, Sunday, Dec. 4). His San Anton bag tipped the scale at 10.89 pounds, yet he remained 1.99 pounds behind the day-one leader, Shaun Bailey, and 1.17 pounds behind Ken Sauret. Bridging those gaps would by no means be an easy task, but nonetheless a possibility for Bishop, who hails from Paso Robles, and proudly calls Nacmimiento his home lake.


From the moment the weigh station opened at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, it became abundantly clear that in order to win this tournament, it was going to take a solid limit of fish. Nearly every single angler weighing in had a 5-fish limit; the first substantial bag belonging to Gary Robbins and Jodie White, who teamed up to land 9.60 pounds. John Bitting, fishing as a solo AAA, managed 5 fish for 9.81 pounds, and weighing in almost immediately after Bitting were Andy Manahl and Tim Demecs, who had a 9.95-pound bag. Manahl also had a quality 3.38 pounder to his credit.

The crowd in the Lake Nacimiento parking lot eagerly awaited the arrival of day-one leader Bailey, and when he pulled up to the weigh station, a palpable anticipation hovered in the air.


Top 5 Pros Wedstern Classic

THE TOP FIVE PROS were, from left to right, Ken Suaret (fifth), Shaun Bailey (fourth), James Smiley (third), Mike Folkestad (second), and Darrin Bishop (first). Pictured with them are our WON BASS tournament directors and WON BASS Director of Operations, Billy Egan.


He and his AAA, Gasper Busalacchi, had 5 fish, but Bailey wasn't showing the smile he had the previous day at San Antonio. When the scale settled at a respectable 8.45 pounds, you could tell he was content; but far from comfortable, as more than half of the field still had yet to weigh in.


Most bags hovered right around the 7- or 8-pound mark; however, there were enough 9-plus-pound limits to keep things interesting. J.R. Taylor and Tom DiGiulio creeled 9.68 pounds, including Taylor's 3.97-pound fish. 


Classic top 5 AAA's

THE TOP FIVE AAA'S were, from left to right, Allen Todd (fifth), Chris Mason (fourth), Tom DiGiulio (first), Ron Wells (third), and Matthew Diaz (second).


Every quality limit seemed to threaten Bailey's lead, and as boats continued to weigh their fish, he perpetually managed to escape dropping in the ranks by the skin of his teeth. When Ken Sauret added another 9.18 pounds to his day-one limit, along with his AAA Ron Pine, Bailey retained his lead by a mere tenth of a pound. Not to mention, Sauret incurred a .20-pound dead fish penalty on day one at San Anton. Had he not been penalized, he would have landed a tenth of a pound ahead of Bailey; putting him in first and Bailey in second.


But it was Bishop who trounced the entire field that afternoon, bringing an amazing 13.21 pounds to the scale, which included a beautiful largemouth of 4.89 pounds. He was fishing with AAA Stephen Watte, a.k.a. "Big Bird." That limit skyrocketed Bishop into first place, but a number of anglers still needed to hit the scale. 


Classic Big Bass Darrin Bishop

BIG FISH of the tournament was this 4.89-pound largemouth landed by 2011 Classic winner Darrin Bishop.


While Bishop's 13.21 pounds would prove to be untouchable, there were at least a couple of anglers who threatened the new Classic leader.


Mike Folkestad and his AAA Chad May brought an 11.77-pound limit to the scale, and Pro Greg Gutierrez, along with his AAA, Chad Aman, had 5 fish for 10.23 pounds. Paul Bailey and Tami Curtis weighed 9.11 pounds, and Jason Borofka and Bruce McCune had a 10.17-pound limit. The last quality bag of the day was a 10.56-pound sack for Pro Charlie Weyer and Carl Crutchfield.


The preliminary tabulations had Bishop as the winner, followed by Folkestad in second, Smiley in third, Bailey in fourth, and Sauret in fifth. On the AAA side, it looked like Tom DiGiulio emerged victorious, with Matthew Diaz in second, Ron Wells in third, Chris Mason in fourth, and Allen Todd rounding out the top five.


Those calculations would prove to hold true at the awards ceremony, which took place around 6 p.m. at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds.


 Being the final event of the 2010/11 WON BASS season, this year's Classic also included the Angler of the Year (AOY) awards, and for the first time in the history of WON BASS, a female took home an AOY title. That woman was none other than Tami Curtis, who earned the South AAA AOY trophy, in addition to a custom-engraved Reactor watch and Costa sunglasses.


Other AOY's earning the same prize packages were South Pro AOY John Morrow, North Pro AOY Mike Folkestad, and North AAA AOY Dave Nelson. Both he and Curtis earned free entries to all of next year's Pro/Am's, also.

The overall Pro Angler of the Year award also went to Folkestad, and on the AAA side, the overall Angler of the Year was Chris Mason. Folkestad also won the Daiwa Cup Award and took home a check for five grand.

 


UPDATE Sunday evening following Weigh-in

PASO ROBLES - Darrin Bishop sat in third place after the first day of the WON BASS Western Classic, which took place on lakes San Antonio and Nacimiento (the former fishery on day one, and the latter on day two, Sunday, Dec. 4). His San Anton bag tipped the scale at 10.89 pounds, yet he remained 1.99 pounds behind the day-one leader, Shaun Bailey, and 1.17 pounds behind Ken Sauret. Bridging those gaps would by no means be an easy task, but nonetheless a possibility for Bishop, who hails from Paso Robles, and proudly calls Nacmimiento his home lake.


From the moment the weigh station opened at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, it became abundantly clear that in order to win this tournament, it was going to take a solid limit of fish. Nearly every single angler weighing in had a 5-fish limit; the first substantial bag belonging to Gary Robbins and Jodie White, who teamed up to land 9.60 pounds. John Bitting, fishing as a solo AAA, managed 5 fish for 9.81 pounds, and weighing in almost immediately after Bitting were Andy Manahl and Tim Demecs, who had a 9.95-pound bag. Manahl also had a quality 3.38 pounder to his credit.

The crowd in the Lake Nacimiento parking lot eagerly awaited the arrival of day-one leader Bailey, and when he pulled up to the weigh station, a palpable anticipation hovered in the air.


He and his AAA, Gasper Busalacchi, had 5 fish, but Bailey wasn't showing the smile he had the previous day at San Antonio. When the scale settled at a respectable 8.45 pounds, you could tell he was content; but far from comfortable, as more than half of the field still had yet to weigh in.


Most bags hovered right around the 7- or 8-pound mark; however, there were enough 9-plus-pound limits to keep things interesting. J.R. Taylor and Tom DiGiulio creeled 9.68 pounds, including Taylor's 3.97-pound fish.


Every quality limit seemed to threaten Bailey's lead, and as boats continued to weigh their fish, he perpetually managed to escape dropping in the ranks by the skin of his teeth. When Ken Sauret added another 9.18 pounds to his day-one limit, along with his AAA Ron Pine, Bailey retained his lead by a mere tenth of a pound. Not to mention, Sauret incurred a .20-pound dead fish penalty on day one at San Anton. Had he not been penalized, he would have landed a tenth of a pound ahead of Bailey; putting him in first and Bailey in second.


But it was Bishop who trounced the entire field that afternoon, bringing an amazing 13.21 pounds to the scale, which included a beautiful largemouth of 4.89 pounds. He was fishing with AAA Stephen Watte, a.k.a. "Big Bird." That limit skyrocketed Bishop into first place, but a number of anglers still needed to hit the scale.


While Bishop's 13.21 pounds would prove to be untouchable, there were at least a couple of anglers who threatened the new Classic leader.


Mike Folkestad and his AAA Chad May brought an 11.77-pound limit to the scale, and Pro Greg Gutierrez, along with his AAA, Chad Aman, had 5 fish for 10.23 pounds. Paul Bailey and Tami Curtis weighed 9.11 pounds, and Jason Borofka and Bruce McCune had a 10.17-pound limit. The last quality bag of the day was a 10.56-pound sack for Pro Charlie Weyer and Carl Crutchfield.


The preliminary tabulations had Bishop as the winner, followed by Folkestad in second, Smiley in third, Bailey in fourth, and Sauret in fifth. On the AAA side, it looked like Tom DiGiulio emerged victorious, with Matthew Diaz in second, Ron Wells in third, Chris Mason in fourth, and Allen Todd rounding out the top five.


Those calculations would prove to hold true at the awards ceremony, which took place around 6 p.m. at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds.


Being the final event of the 2010/11 WON BASS season, this year's Classic also included the Angler of the Year (AOY) awards, and for the first time in the history of WON BASS, a female took home an AOY title. That woman was none other than Tami Curtis, who earned the South AAA AOY trophy, in addition to a custom-engraved Reactor watch and Costa sunglasses.


Other AOY's earning the same prize packages were South Pro AOY John Morrow, North Pro AOY Mike Folkestad, and North AAA AOY Dave Nelson. Both he and Curtis earned free entries to all of next year's Pro/Am's, also.

The overall Pro Angler of the Year award also went to Folkestad, and on the AAA side, the overall Angler of the Year was Chris Mason. Folkestad also won the Daiwa Cup Award and took home a check for five grand.

 

Cutlines:

 

BIG FISH of the tournament was this 4.89-pound largemouth landed by 2011 Classic winner Darrin Bishop.

 

THE TOP FIVE AAA'S were, from left to right, Allen Todd (fifth), Chris Mason (fourth), Tom DiGiulio (first), Ron Wells (third), and Matthew Diaz (second).

 

THE TOP FIVE PROS were, from left to right, Ken Suaret (fifth), Shaun Bailey (fourth), James Smiley (third), Mike Folkestad (second), and Darrin Bishop (first). Pictured with them are our WON BASS tournament directors and WON BASS Director of Operations, Billy Egan.

 




The WON BASS Western Classic has

officially wrapped, and there are

some surprises in store


PASO ROBLES — While WON BASS staffers are busy compiling the final results for this weekend’s Western Classic, preliminary calculations indicate there were indeed a few surprises and at least a couple of upsets in this tournament. We’re not revealing anything just yet, as the awards ceremony is set to take place in roughly half an hour, but final placements will be posted immediately following the ceremony (at roughly 7 o’clock).


Today was a phenomenal day on Nacimiento, with nearly every team weighing in 5-fish limits. And there were some sizeable bags, too, and at least one fish nearing the 5-pound mark. Action easily trumped that of the TOC roughly a month ago.


Keep your browser pointed here, and get ready to be both surprised and impressed.



Shaun Bailey leads as day two of the Western Classic gets underway

PASO ROBLES — The second day of the WON BASS Western Classic is officially underway, and with Shaun Bailey in the lead — thanks to a 12.88-pound limit yesterday at Lake San Antonio — the results of this tournament could prove to be a foregone conclusion. Granted, it’s merely speculative as of now, but let’s not forget Bailey and his partner for last month’s TOC, Billy Skinner, were the highest-placing South team. For their finish, they not only won cash and ample prize packages, but they also returned to Lake Havasu City, Ariz., with a brand-new Nitro/Mercury rig.

Now, under normal circumstances, winning a tournament a month ago wouldn’t be so significant, however, the Classic moved to Lake Nacimiento today, which just so happens to be the same lake Bailey fished, and won on, roughly a month ago to the day. Anything can happen, of course, but let’s just say he’s got a solid shot at taking home another boat/motor combo.

Weather conditions haven’t changed a bit, as this morning offered windless, sunny, bluebird skies for the anglers. Yet it’s fairly common knowledge amongst the bassin’ set that spotted bass bite better in the nasty stuff. Thus, while Bailey may be in the lead, and coming off a victory last month, who knows how today — and really the entire tournament — will ultimately pan out.

The final weigh-in begins at 3 p.m., with the awards presentation following thereafter. We’ll keep you posted.




Day 1 wrap up.

As anticipated, a few anglers landed a majority of the fish during the first day of the 2011 WON BASS Western Classic

Shaun Bailey leads western classic after day 1

SHAUN BAILEY and his AAA Matthew Diaz emerged in first place after the first day of the Western Classic, creeling a 5-fish limit weighing 12.88 pounds.


PASO ROBLESIt was almost scripted. Nearly every angler who hypothesized that only a handful of Pros would weigh solid bags during the first day of the WON BASS Western Classic was spot on. In fact, that’s exactly how the first day of competition panned out — few anglers landing a majority of the fish.


Five-fish limits were hard to come by, as a mere five teams managed to bring full bags to the scales. Of those limits, however, there were some solid bags in the mix.


Shaun Bailey, who has been on fire this year, turned in the heaviest sack of the day, and along with his AAA, Matthew Diaz, managed a 12.88-pound limit. Not far behind the day-one leaders were Pro Ken Sauret and AAA Tom DiGiulio. Their 5 fish tipped the scale at 12.26 pounds, however, a dead fish penalty dropped them down to 12.06. In third were Darrin Bishop and his AAA Greg Claiborne with 10.89 pounds, and fourth went to Mike Folkestad and AAA Allen Todd for their 10.29-pound limit. Rounding out the top five were Pro James Smiley and AAA Ron Wells with 9.83 pounds.


John Smily 2011 Western Classic

PRO JOHN SMILEY had the biggest fish on the Pro side during day one, with the 3.37-pound largemouth shown in this picture.


The weights dropped fairly significantly from there, as anglers seemed to have a hard time putting together a limit. In fact, John Morrow, who always finds himself in the winner’s circle, managed a mere two fish if that tells you how tough it was. Not to mention he made certain to add, “I’ve never worked so hard for 2 fish in my life!” As usual, however, he uttered those words with a massive smile on his face. The guy loves to fish and it shows.


Big Fish day 1

OVERALL BIG FISH of day one was this 3.44-pound largemouth landed by AAA Brad Everett.


Most teams managed to put together 2- or 3-fish bags, but there were 5 that didn’t weigh a single fish. Yeah, it was that difficult. Of the fish weighed in, however, there were a number of absolutely gorgeous smallmouth.

Overall big fish of the day was a 3.44-pound largemouth landed by AAA Brad Everett. Pro big fish went to James Smiley for a 3.37-pound fish.


The tournament moves to Lake Nacimiento tomorrow for the second, and final day of the Classic. And based on reports from some of our anglers, there could be some truly phenomenal bags brought to the scales. Anglers have been talking about spotted bass in the 3-plus-pound range, so we’ll see if they can make good on their reports.


Tomorrow’s takeoff is slated for around 7 a.m., and the first flight of boats is due in at 2. Stay tuned…



Update Saturday Morning:

Being a Champion isn’t easy, and this WON BASS Western Classic is going to be earned.

Naci Classic No wind 2011

NO WIND, no clouds, and no rain in the forecast. If today’s conditions are a sign of things to come for this weekend’s Classic, anglers are in for a treat… at least in terms of the weather.



PASO ROBLES — As is always the case with fishing (which is why we love and embrace this sport), catching fish can be an exercise in futility. Hell, it can be downright infuriating at times. But those are the times on the water that separate the men from the boys, so to speak… and champions from their competitors.


At today’s registration and partner pairings, a number of anglers were complaining about the bite at San Antonio. Now, given that tomorrow, the first day of the Classic, will be held on said fishery, it came as little surprise for those who hadn’t been faring so well while pre-fishing. San Anton is by no means a “gimme” lake. While it can be wide open at times, for the most part, it’s a tough fishery. Degree of difficulty aside, however, the lake does have a substantial population of quality large and smallmouth bass. And, like any tournament scenario, some guys will be on ‘em, and others won’t. That’s nothing more than the nature of our sport.


Naci Western Classic Anglers Prep

ANGLERS PREP their boats and gear for the first day of the Western Classic. Tomorrow’s takeoff should be commencing right around 7 o’clock.


“This is why I came up with the idea of a two-lake Classic,” said WON BASS Director of Operations, Billy Egan. “This is a championship, and it’s not supposed to be easy. I know for a fact there are guys who are on fish right now; it’s just not that way for everyone, and that’s what will make this a fair and exciting tournament. This is going to level the playing field.”


Pro Greg Gutierrez summarized it best with the statement, “If you’re going to have a champion, you might as well be a champion.” And it’s certainly going to take a true champion to best the field of talent on hand for this weekend’s event.

“I’m expecting some very large weights tomorrow from at least three to five competitors,” said Pro Kevin Stewart. “I wouldn’t be surprised to also see some big bags from Nac on Sunday.


“The bites are few and far between at San Antonio, and finding a 2 pounder here [at Lake Nacimiento] is like finding a piece of gold in a river.” In other words, it’s not going to be a walk in the park. Whoever takes this weekend’s tournament will have certainly earned the title. And, as Stewart indicated, some guys are on fish.


“We fished San Anton today and it was pretty good,” said Pro Andy Manahl. “I mean, we’re not on a game-changing-type of bite, but we are on fish.”


In addition to the pair of Nitro/Mercury rigs to be awarded to the top-finishing Pro and AAA, there’s also almost 15 grand in option money to be given out. Not a bad way to end what has been a phenomenal 2010/11 WON BASS season.


This one should be a nail biter, and whoever emerges the champion of this weekend’s classic, you can bet he or she is truly deserving of the title.



First Western Classic Update on Arrival


Despite high winds, all indications point to a great WON BASS Western Classic this weekend


Early Checkin at tackle store
TODAY’S EARLY CHECK-IN took place at JPB (Jim’s Pro Bass) Tackle in Paso Robles, and a number of heavy hitters — including John Morrow, Mike Folkestad, and Dick Watson to name a few — were in attendance.

PASO ROBLES — With a pair of Nitro boat/Mercury motor combos on the line for this weekend’s WON BASS Western Classic (the final event of the 2010-11 season), it should come as little surprise WON BASS has invited the best of the best to compete in a never-before-seen format for the timeless Classic. This year, unlike years past, the event will be held on not one lake for two days, but two lakes both days (one each day of the tournament).

Come Saturday, the first day of the tourney, WON BASS' invited anglers (both Pros and AAA’s) will be hitting Lake San Antonio to target the quality large and smallmouth bass that have helped make a name for the Central Coast fishery.


“Guys have been coming in with 15- to 20-pound limits while pre-fishing,” said WON BASS Director of Operations, Bill Egan. “Then, again, there have also been anglers who’ve been having a tough time, so it really remains to be seen…”


On Sunday, the Classic moves to Lake Nacimiento, where the WON BASS Tournament of Champions (TOC) took place just about a month ago. This time around, however, it seems as though action is a bit better, as Egan remarked, “The guys pre-fishing Naci have been reporting up to 14-pound limits.” And to anyone who knows the average size of Nacimiento’s spotted bass, a 14-pound limit is indeed impressive.


Today’s early check-in took place from 4 to 7 p.m. at JPB (Jim’s Pro Bass) Tackle in Paso Robles, and a number of heavy hitters were in attendance. John Morrow, Mike Folkestad and Dick Watson field was registered and/or signed up for the options. JPB’s Jim Slusher was on hand providing tasty tri-tip sandwiches for everyone.


The winds were howling most of the day today.
And even in spite of the gusts, anglers managed to creel solid limits while pre-fishing, so it really shouldn’t matter what Mother Nature opts to throw their way.

The official check-in for the tournament is tomorrow afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m. More photos and info. will be posted shortly thereafter.






Reader Comments
Thanks for the update. Best of luck to all those who are participating. Have a safe and successful Western Classic. Come first sunlight in the morning at Lake San Antonio You'll have a group of the best anglers in the country assembled right here in the State of California. WON Bass is second to none!
Jim Ower
Great job guys. Hey...Smiley didn't get mentioned for his 12lb bag on day 2 in the blog (?). 2nd biggest bag of the day and 2nd biggest fish I think. Kid fished a great event and fished in 3rd place overall. Great event...
Rick M.
live laugh have fun, won bass is number one. Thank You WON BASS Allen Todd
allen todd
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