Ken Howden and Gary Understiller continue to cling to first place in the Western Outdoor News (WON) Arizona Circuit bass tournament standings even though they had to settle for a fourth-place finish in a Feb. 25 fray at Roosevelt Lake.
The pair has fished all five of WON’s state tournaments this season weighing in 15 fish that tip the scales at 30.87 pounds. Their big bass weighed 6.72 pounds.
The second-place team, Keith Hunsinger and Robert O’Donnell of Payson, have caught 16 fish totaling 24.54 pounds.
The difference between first and second place is each pair’s “big fish” — the largest bass the Rim anglers have caught — is 2.03 pounds, about four pounds less than Howden and Understiller’s lunker.
In the most recent fray at Roosevelt, Howden and Understiller were fourth with four bass totaling 8.71 pounds.
The winners, Wes McCracken of Cottonwood and Glendale’s Rob Smook were competing in their first WON Arizona tournament, but weighed in a limit of five fish weighing 15.02 pounds. In their catch was the tournament’s big fish — a 4.22-pound large mouth.
The win pushed McCracken and Smook to eighth in the overall standings and earned them $970 in prize money.
In winning, the pair used an Alabama Rig that is being hailed as the hottest technique in years even though it has been banned from use in the Bassmaster Classic and its elite series.
WON Arizona Circuit Director Tracy Purtee said the winning duo fished from “three to four feet of water to 42 feet.”
Clint Herring and Zack Holwerda finished second at Roosevelt weighing in four fish of 9.70 pounds.
“They caught their fish flippin’ in one to three feet of water and did take second place big fish at 3.29 pounds,” Purtee said.
The pair has fished just one tournament but is in ninth place in the overall state standings.
Steve Fowtch and Lon Amez caught five bass that weighed 9.65 pounds and were fourth.
“They commented ‘We needed more time’ since they caught their fish in the last 20 minutes on jigs and Carolina rigs,” said Purtee. The team is fifth in the overall standings.
The tournament was unique in that it was the first on the Arizona WON circuit to use state-of-the-art Pro Tournament Scales.
“This is a hands-off approach to weigh fish,” Purtee said. “The fish are put into a holding basket and then hands are removed so the scales do the rest.
“A stabilizer bar is used to eliminate the moving of the fish so the weight recorded is more accurate.”
After the fish are weighed, the amount is stored in a computer.
The next WON Arizona tournament is March 17 at Roosevelt with departure to take place from the Cholla Ramp.
For more information, call Purtee at (928) 978-3659.