February 06, 2005

Peter T. posts fourth tourney victory/ 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Pro Tour ― Harris Chain, Fla.

LEESBURG, Fla. ― The whims of Florida's wintertime weather struck again Sunday in the final round of the $618,000 CITGO Bassmaster Tour event on the Harris Chain of Lakes, shaking up the leader board and pushing a pair of Floridians into the top two spots.

Instead of cold, this time it was wind ― brisk and relentless ― playing havoc with the chain's resident largemouths, even causing two of the six finalists to strike out completely.

Somehow it played into the hands of Peter Thliveros and Jim Bitter, who moved up from second and third, respectively, to capture the top spots.

Thliveros, 44, from Jacksonville, brought in the day's largest catch (19 pounds, 15 ounces), earning the Busch Heavyweight award for the day and posting his fourth BASS victory with 69 pounds, 5 ounces. He took home a cool $100,000 for his efforts, plus an additional $2,000 for having the Busch Heavyweight bag on both the third and final day.

Bitter, 62, a hometown favorite from nearby Fruitland Park, weighed in an impressive 18-9, but fell 1 pound, 11 ounces short with 67-10. He earned $40,000.

Third-round leader Todd Faircloth of Texas managed just 12-3 Sunday and fell to third place with 64-6, followed by North Carolina's Guy Eaker (15-12 Sunday) with 60-14. Fifth-place finisher Larry Nixon (46-9) of Arkansas and California's Aaron Martens (42-5) both zeroed on Sunday.

Bitter took Sunday's Purolator Big Bass Award with an eight-pound, nine-ounce largemouth. It earned him an extra $1,000.

Thliveros scored a much appreciated victory on the day that Super Bowl XXXIX was taking place in his hometown.

"It's just unbelievable," said Thliveros, who last won a BASS event in 1997. "It's almost as good as the first time. The first time was fabulous, and this time it's almost surreal."

"I'm still floating. I don't even really know where I'm at. The adrenaline's flowing."

Thliveros' success came in the shallow grass in Lake Eustis on a 1/2-ounce Team Supreme spinnerbait thrown on 20-pound monofilament line. He also used a Zoom Brush Hog and paddletail worm on 14-pound line.

Peter T's strategy involved targeting spawning bass that others overlooked. He used the spinnerbait early and the soft-plastics later in the day.

"Going out this morning, I thought my chances were pretty good," he said. "I really did. I don't know why I thought they were pretty good. I just had a good feeling. For once, I didn't have any negative thoughts. I didn't talk myself out of it. I just kind of kept myself in a positive frame of mind and really, really worked hard."

It was a disappointing ending for Bitter, the early leader and a clear favorite among the Leesburg fishing fans. The five-time BASS winner won a BASS MegaBucks event here in 1989.

"Sure, I'm disappointed. I had a great opportunity to win this thing," he said. "I was on plenty of fish. I just didn't control my area well enough."

Bitter shared the Yale Canal with several top finishers, including Eaker. He scored by pitching two sizes of a Brush Hog into shallow vegetation for bedding bass that he couldn't see.

For Faircloth, it was another near miss at his first BASS victory. His third place showing leaves him with two seconds and two thirds on his tournament r駸um.

"I felt really good going out this morning," Faircloth said. "I had a 2-pound lead, and I felt good about my area.

"What I was most concerned about was that my bites were coming so late in the day. That was the situation again today. I didn't catch my first bass until 10:00, and I caught three after 12 o'clock."

In the Purolator Big Bass Fan Contest, Brian Naugle won the luck of the draw and was paired with Bitter. When his 8-9 largemouth hit the scales, Naugle earned the $1,000 prize.

Catch all the action from the CITGO Bassmaster Tour event on the Harris Chain on The CITGO Bassmasters next Saturday, Feb. 12, at 10:00 a.m. ET.

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

Local Sponsors include Leesburg Chamber of Commerce.

BASS Communications -Feb. 6, 2005

+For more infomation, clickwww.bassmaster.com.

Posted by DODGE at February 6, 2005 03:37 PM in Tournament (BASS)