March 04, 2005

Ippoliti takes command at Clarks Hill

2005 CITGO Bassmaster Pro Tour Clarks Hill Reservoir, Ga.

Thursday's leader Frank Ippolitti not only was the Busch Heavyweight but also claimed the two biggest bass of the day. AUGUSTA, Ga. Frank Ippoliti had never seen Clarks Hill Reservoir before the practice period for the CITGO Bassmaster Tour event, but now he lists the lake among his very favorites. The Maryland angler brought an opening round limit of five bass to the scales that weighed an impressive 26 pounds, 7 ounces. The catch gives him a first round lead of nearly six pounds over Oklahoma's Tommy Biffle.

Striking the Heisman Trophy pose on the weigh-in stage, Ippoliti is poised to stiff-arm the competition and run away from the field. All he sees before him is the wide-open green of largemouth bass and the first-place prize money of $100,000.

"Everything I did went right today," Ippoliti gushed. "I had great practice days, and it just continued today."

Ippoliti not only had the Busch Heavyweight catch of the day, but also claimed the two biggest bass of the day. One weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and the other, the Purolator Big Bass of the day, weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces.

Ippoliti is fishing a specially modified Bagley B-Flat crankbait across wind-blown points to catch his lunkers.

"I'm fishing what I call 'corners'," Ippoliti explained. "They're points where the wind is blowing across and creating an eddy on the back side. I really need the wind to blow to catch these fish.

"Most of the water I'm fishing is just 4 to 6 feet deep, but there's much deeper water nearby. I've modified my crankbait by adding some weight so that it's almost neutrally buoyant in the water. It probably dives about four and a half feet deep."

Oklahoma's Tommy Biffle was second in Day One action on Clarks Hill. Despite water temperatures in the high 40s, Ippoliti is using a fast retrieve on the crankbait. The bites he's getting are reaction strikes.

"I'm absolutely burning the bait," he said. "If I slow it down, they get too good a look at it and won't bite."

A final key to his presentation may be the use of spinning tackle and 10-pound test Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon line.

"If I were throwing the bait on a casting reel into the wind we've had here, I'd spend all day picking out backlashes instead of catching fish," Ippoliti said.

Rounding out the top 10 are Biffle with 20-10, California's David Gliebe with 18-13, Texas' David Wharton with 18-10, Arkansas' Jimmy Mize with 18-9, New Jersey's Michael Iaconelli with 17-1, Florida's Mark Rogers with 17-0, Arkansas' Larry Nixon with 16-15, Oklahoma's Terry Butcher with 16-7 and Missouri's Rick Clunn and North Carolina's Marty Stone, each with 16-3. All had five-fish limits.

The field will be cut to the top 12 anglers following the second round on Friday.

On the non-boater side, it's no surprise that Frank Ippoliti's partner on Day One, Daniel Thompson of Georgia, is in first place. He has a shared weight of 28 pounds, 12 ounces for a 2-pound, 3-ounce lead over Alabama's Tommy Bryant.

Georgia's Rusty Evans claimed the Purolator Big Bass award and $500 prize on the non-boater side with his 6 pound, 10 ounce largemouth.

The CITGO Bassmaster Tour event on Clarks Hill Lake will be telecast on The CITGO Bassmasters on Saturday, March 12 at 10:00 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

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 Columbia County, Georgia.

BASS Communications -Mar. 4, 2005

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Posted by DODGE at March 4, 2005 03:21 PM in Tournament (BASS)