Atascadero angler struggles at tournament

Atascadero's Gene Gray was sitting pretty in second place after three FLW Stren series Western Division tournaments. But, after Wednesday's opening round of the final test on the schedule in Oakley, he finds himself with a long way to go.

Gray, who admits to having a difficult time fishing tidal waters, caught two limits of fish, but his catch didn't include the 6- and 7-pounders that he had caught in practice.

Gray is in 91st place in a field of 173 pro bass fishermen with a 14-10 limit.

Tony Pratt of Paso Robles is tied for 92nd place with a 14-8-pound limit.

The changing tides Wednesday deprived Gray of some of the places he wanted to fish near Antioch.

"I'll have to it until Friday to fish those sites," he said.

Gene covets a return to a berth in the FLW Stren championship tournament in Mobile, Ala., in November. The top 40 pros in each of five divisions qualify for this prestigious tournament, an event that Gray qualified for in 2006.

The leader after day one is Salinas pro Mike Gutierrez with a 29-pound, 7-ounce, five-fish limit.

Michael Tuck of Antelope leads Gray by 15 points in the standings and was in fifth place after day one on The Delta with a 27-0-pound limit.

In other tournament action:

* In Greensboro, N.C., Arroyo Grande's Jared Lintner is one of the 50 qualifiers who began four days of tournament fishing Thursday at High Rock Lake. The Bassmaster American is a major tournament sponsored by BASS. The winner will earn $250.000.

* Roger Haas of Morro Bay and partner Jerry Williams, formerly of Morro Bay and Templeton, were equally surprised by their capture of the W.O.N. Bass Golden Valley Region title last Saturday.

Haas and Williams, now a Porterville resident, were four points behind the leaders going into the seventh and final region competition.

The duo caught the big fish at 5.27 pounds and it anchored their 10.67-pound, five-fish limit. Their second win of the season, this time by a slim margin of 9 one-hundredths of a pound, was worth $4,805.

The previous leaders, Kirk Sakamoto and Tim Torres, dropped down to 14th place in losing their standings leadership. The team finished second, four points behind Haas and Williams.