Dobart primes for stretch run so he can fish in Classic here


Baltimore bass'n pro Bob Dobart has added incentive to fish hard on the final two tournaments of the BASS circuit. The 21st annual BASS Master Classic is coming to his hometown waters in August, which would give him a big advantage.

But, first he needs an invite.

"I've got to do exceptionally well in the last two tournaments," Dobart said last night from Florida, where he is practicing for a Red Man tournament following a disappointing finish last week in the $175,000 Florida Invitational at the St. John's River.

Going into St. John's, he ranked 18th on the circuit, and figured to be among the 40 who made the classic cut -- but that was before both the weather and his angling fortunes changed.

"In practice fishing, I was working on pre-spawning fish -- had a strong pattern going, and things were promising," he explained. "But the weather got warm. I got a lot of hits, but not many fish."

He ended up far down the field of 300 with 7 pounds. He not only missed out on cash, but, more important, on points necessary to make the classic, which will be fished by the top 35 on the BASS Invitational and Super BASS tours in addition to the five best BASS Federation anglers in North America.

A classic win means many times the $50,000 first-place money. It promises endorsements, sponsors, personal appearances and such -- not to mention the prestige it would add to BASS Expo, the popular midwinter show he promotes at Timonium Fairgrounds.

The Red Man contest doesn't figure in BASS points; he will have to make them in Bass Angler Sportsman Society competition at Guntersville Lake, Ala., and Missouri's Truman Lake. He's got a lot of catching up to do, but if he does, how will he fish the Aug. 22-24 classic?

Like many other hopefuls, he had planned on running up the C&D; Canal to try the upper Delaware River -- a two-hour cruise each way -- but latest word is all fish will have to be caught in Maryland. Now he favors the Elk River with all its milfoil cover. Middle River also has some nice fish and is close to the classic's launching spot, Dundee Creek Marina at Gunpowder State Park.

The Susquehanna Flats, Sassafras and Northeast are other good bets, said Dobart -- and so is the Susquehanna River, but its tricky channels and rocky obstacle course could pose a problem for newcomers.

"If I was a visiting classic contender I'd hire Earl Ashenfelter [veteran Susquehanna guide] to show me how to get upriver without tearing the bottom out of the boat," added Dobart. "But maybe the smallmouths there won't be big enough to win."

Baltimore's selection as a classic site comes as a surprise; most on the circuit figured it would be on the Potomac at Washington. Fish will be weighed in at Baltimore Arena, and running concurrently will be the popular BASS Outdoor Show at Baltimore Convention Center.

Incidentally, Missourian Guido Hibdon won at the St. John's with 43 pounds, edging out by less than 3 pounds former Marylander Roland Martin, who held a commanding lead the first two days. Both are shoo-ins for the classic.

Gaithersburg guide Bill Kramer fell 3 ounces shy of the money with 20 pounds, 10 ounces. Other Marylanders in the field were Mark Hoos of Abingdon, Frank Ippoliti of Mount Airy and Bruce Jones of Gaithersburg.

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