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Triton Pro Shuffield Wins Hamilton

Posted: 5/5/2003

2003 Arkansas CITGO Bassmaster Pro Tour — Lake Hamilton

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — So much for chickens, home-field advantages and even the jinx known as "localitis." Ron Shuffield bested them all to win the CITGO Bassmaster Tour event presented by Busch Beer on Lake Hamilton.

Shuffield, 57, caught a final-day stringer of 12 pounds, 2 ounces to leap frog over Jay Kendrick and Mark Davis, the leaders of the first three days of the event, to win his seventh Bassmaster event. Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark. finished with 44 pounds, 12 ounces.

He wasn't the only angler leap frogging, either. Joe Thomas of Milford, Ohio, caught the heaviest weight of the day, 13 pounds, 1 ounce, to move from fifth to second with 43 pounds, 14 ounces, while Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., who led after day three by more than a pound, fell to third with 43-5. Kendrick finished fourth with 42-10, Randy Howell of Springville, Ala. was fifth with 40-1, and Kenyon Hill of Norman, Okla., rounded out the final six with 31-2.

Shuffield made a big adjustment during the course of the final day to pick up precious ounces to make up for a third day deficit and move ahead by almost a pound. His four-day weight was mostly caught on a Zara Spook, fished around the last two or three boat docks leading out of spawning coves on the lower end of the lake.

But when the wind began to blow on the final day, Shuffield picked up a golden-shiner Stanley spinnerbait to catch his three largest fish. Those fish were picked off of windy banks as Shuffield trolled to his primary boat docks.

Those three, close to three-pound fish were the gold nuggets that most of the anglers were looking for all week.

Ohio's Joe Thomas boated the heaviest catch of the day — 13 pounds, 1 ounce — to move from fifth to second place with a four-day total of 43-14. "We all knew coming in that whoever won would have to catch a 3-pounder a day,'' Davis said. "Obviously, I couldn't find one today. Ronnie found mine and Jay's too.''

Shuffield keyed in on about 20 boat docks during the course of the tournament, all of them leading out of spawning pockets where big pods of shad were present. On each day, Shuffield would get bit in the early morning on a Zara Spook in the extreme shallow portion of the bays. Once the sun came up, he would catch them on the backsides of the docks and then later in the day the fish would bite on the front corners.

"All of the docks were floating docks,'' Shuffield said. "But they had to have corner poles on front and back. I guess the fish were just suspended on those poles.''

By the third day, Shuffield said the pattern was just getting better. Even though the weights weren't getting heavier, he expected they would.

"Every one of those docks would have a school of really good fish underneath them,'' he said. "I could see them come out and follow my spook, but it was always the smallest one that took the lure. I kept thinking those bigger ones would eventually hit.''

They did. But not in the fashion he thought they would. On the final day, cloud cover moved in along with wind. While other anglers struggled, Shuffield picked up a spinnerbait and while moving to his floating docks and started catching fish on windy banks with a mud line and stationary boat docks that had pilings.