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JACK WOLLITZ Little tricks can make a difference

Published: Fri, August 31, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.

We can learn a thing or two from pro anglers, little tricks that can make the difference between a great trip and a frustrating day beating the water

So what's the difference between a professional angler and one who gets out once a week, if lucky? I learned the answer recently when I spent three days on the Louisiana Delta bayous with a trio of highly successful tournament bass fishermen during the BASS Masters Classic. Each day revealed interesting insights in how Peter Thliveros, Paul Elias and Harold Allen ensure success more often than not as they cast for bass - and the cash that helps them feed their families

The pressure was on Harold Allen, a Texan who found himself within one fish of the lead going into the final round of the Classic world championship. He had to catch bass. And he also had to deal with an ESPN cameraman recording every move he made from the back deck of his Skeeter bass boat

Things didn't start briskly for Allen. He fished 45 minutes in his primary spot - after making a 100-mile run - and had no bass in his livewell

Finally, he eked out a bite and landed a keeper

Knowing he needed to make a move, Allen fired up his 200-hp Yamaha and raced for the fuel dock so he'd be ready for the 100-mile return trip. Then he zeroed in on an out-of-the-way backwater pond accessible only by an extremely narrow, twisting channel so overgrown with brush and vegetation that a water moccasin could have dropped onto the deck from the limbs brushing his boat's windscreens

Once he reached his fishing hole, however, Allen found himself in bass heaven. He quickly boated seven solid largemouths and culled up his best five for the long ride back to New Orleans

His trick, of course, was to make the laborious effort to fish where few, if any, anglers typically venture. And it paid off in a solid fourth-place finish

Earlier in the week, Elias, from Mississippi, unveiled a most interesting rig

Frustrated that the only interest he could solicit with his buzzbait came from alligators, Elias reached for a spinning rod and began covering the same water with an odd plastic worm rig

The lure was threaded up the shank of a 2/0 hook with a wire weed guard so

that it was shaped like a droopy J. It swam in an enticing corkscrew action

When a three-pounder nailed the set-up, it convinced me to inquire further

"I call it a CPR rig," Elias said. "It's named after the initials of an old fellow who taught me a lot about bass fishing 30 years ago." Elias fished the rig weightless and used a swivel to minimize line twist

Like the other 44 contenders in this year's Classic, Thliveros had to keep his cool during the heat of battle in temperatures approaching 100 degrees and thick humidity under a searing sun. So he fished in a long-sleeve cotton shirt

"It's a trick I learned years ago at home in Florida," he said. "If you keep the sun off your upper body as much as possible, you can stay relatively comfortable in really hot weather." Whether it's finding a remote hot spot, breaking out an unusual lure or finding a way to focus on fishing rather than worrying about wilting, you can apply these tricks and catch more fish on your next outing

Big winners: Dan Mansky and Rick Otterson clinched the Extreme Bass Series points crown last Sunday at Berlin Reservoir and claimed the keys to a $30,000 Procraft-Mercury bass rig

Both Youngstowners, the champs will seek to add to their booty Sept. 15-16 when the X Series travels to Lake Chautauqua in New York for the championship tournament. An identical boat and motor outfit will be at stake for that event's winning team



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