It took just one nice-sized bass to propel the Mesa team of Rich Kereny and Dean Kruezen to a first place finish at a Western Outdoor News (WON) Bass Arizona team tournament held Jan. 7 at Bartlett Lake.
The largemouth tipped the scales at 2.53 pounds, which not only represented the heaviest catch of the tournament but was also the “Big Fish” winner.
The Payson team of Keith Hunsinger and Bobby O’Donnell caught two fish, but they weighed in at just 1.59 pounds, which was good enough for second place.
WON Arizona Teams Director Tracy Purtee said following the weigh-in that O’Donnell told him, “it was ugly out there,” to which Purtee responded, “I think a lot of the anglers would agree.”
Ken Howden and Gary Understiller weighed in 1.45 pounds of fish to finish third.
Although their catch was small, it was enough to keep the two in first place in the Arizona WON season-long standings of seven tournaments, which began Oct. 22 at Roosevelt Lake.
Kereny and Krueger were fishing in their first WON tournament and their first place finish lifts them into sixth place in the season standings.
The Valley duo entered the tournament, Purtee said, “with high hopes for catching a lot of fish with the new Alabama rig, but came up with nothing.”
The rig has been banned from use in the Bassmaster Classic and the Bassmaster Elite Series prompting cries of “foul” from some anglers.
Since the inception of the Alabama rig, it has been hugely popular among bass anglers who claim it enables them to catch their limits very quickly.
The rig consists of a metal head with five wires that allow swim baits or other small baits to be attached.
However, the rig was a bust for Kereny and Kruezen prompting the duo to switch to spinnerbaits with which they caught their big fish.
For the win, Kereny and Kruezen received $675 in prize money.
Hunsinger and O’Donnell are clinging to second place in the season standings with the final tournament in the series set for Feb. 25 at Roosevelt Lake.
A good showing in it, which will be on their home lake, could earn the Payson pair the Arizona WON championship.
Purtee’s advice for local fishermen considering tournament fishing is to choose a partner and get involved in the WON Bass state program.
Teams fish for cash and prizes in local regions with a goal of reaching the WON Bass team championships at the end of the seven-tournament season.
Entrants must be at least 16 years of age, but all caliber and gender of bass anglers are welcome to participate.
WON Arizona is unique in that teams are often comprised of family members including father-son, father-daughter, mother-son and husband-wife duos.