A fast start is what propelled Atascadero's Gene Gray into a qualifying berth in the FLW Stren Series bass championship.
With only The Delta tournament remaining, Gray was in second place in the Western Division standings. He trailed only Michael Tuck of Antelope by 15 points, 586-571.
Both anglers had disappointing performances in the tidal waters of The Delta last week. It was the fourth and final contest on the schedule.
Gray placed 136th with a three-day total of 33 pounds, 3 ounces for his 15 fish. Tuck did only a little better, placing 80th with a 43-07 bag weight for his 14 fish.
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The Delta efforts caused Tuck to sink to fourth in the final Western Division standings with 707 points. Gray ranks 10th with 636.
The top-40 place winners from the Western Division as well as a like number of pros from the Southeast, Texas, Central and Northern Divisions will convene in Mobile, Ala., Nov 8-11 to vie for the Stren Series Championship.
The winner will go home with $140,000.
This will be the second year in a row that Gray, who turns 52 Monday, has qualified for the championship.
€ The Tull brothers from Santa Maria hold on to fourth place in the U.S.
Anglers Choice Central Coast standings after four events with 415.33 points.
Jason Hemminger and Martin Brian from Oxnard are leading the pack with 444.95.
Steve Morris of Lompoc and his partner Adam Koda had the big fish of 5.95 pounds at last Saturday's tourney at Cachuma Lake. It anchored their five-fish limit of 17.55 pounds ‹ good for second place.
Lompoc's Dana Chatterly and partner Jeff Young from Buellton finished sixth with a 9.77-pound limit worth $250.
Santa Maria's Steve Fernandes and partner Spike Pollorena of Buellton finished out of the money in seventh place with a 9.52-pound limit.
The Tull brothers placed 11th with a 5.78-pound limit.