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Chevy Silverado Pro-Am Bass Tour making frequent area stops this summer

SPICER -- The Chevy Silverado Pro-Am Bass Tour can't get enough of the waters in west-central Minnesota.

The five-event tournament will make its first stop of the 2008 season at Green Lake in Spicer June 7, then hit Lake Minnewaska July 12, followed by the Alexandria Chain of Lakes Aug. 16.

Green Lake held its first Bass Tour last season to overwhelming success, tournament director Billy Hildebrand said by email last week.

"Green Lake is absolutely a premier smallmouth fishery anywhere in the country. This along with the hospitality and location of Melvin's on the Lake in Spicer as the tournament site make it the ideal location to kick off the 2008 Silverado Pro Am Bass Tour," he said. "In 2007, all the anglers had a great time and the fish were big. We had a 100-percent successful live release of all fish caught and can't wait to return."

Brian Jensen of Big Lake, the professional angler, and his partner, amateur Mike Metzger of Hudson, Wis., won the event last year. They pulled in 26.1 pounds of bass and collected a combined $12,000.

Only two anglers from the Tribune coverage area are on the 2008 roster: professional angler John Patock of Sacred Heart and amateur Jim Lokken of Glenwood.

"It's just a good experience. I've never done it before," said Lokken. "I just want to get into a boat with a pro and see what they do."

For Patock, who has been a professional anglers for about seven years, being close to home means a lot.

"That's one of the reason's I picked this tour," he said. "To me the Silverado is the premier pro-am in Minnesota. Green Lake is a phenomenal smallmouth factory."

The next two stops on the Bass Tour will highlight the fisheries of the Glacial Lakes region of Minnesota. The Minnewaska event will be headquartered at Water's Edge in Starbuck and the Alexandria stop will be based at Arrowwood Resort.

"These were chosen for both the quality fishery and headquarters sites," Hildebrand said. "The Lake Minnewaska fishery provides both smallmouth and largemouth opportunities and we hope to highlight the fishing opportunities available to all anglers. This will be our first time stopping at the Water's Edge on Lake Minnewaska and I'm sure it won't be the last. It's a 50-50 bet which species, largemouth or smallies will win the $10,000 Pro payday. Few bodies of water in Minnesota or beyond can compare."

Lokken is looking forward to the next two stops, since he is from Glenwood.

"The tournaments are close to home. Green Lake is only about an hour away and the other two are in my backyard," he said. "I know a lot of the guys that fish in it. It's a premier event that has the best bass fishermen in Minnesota."

The Tour organizers have upgraded the stakes this year, paying out 12 spots at each event instead of the top 10. The number of entries allowed at each stop builds from 49 boats last year to 59, capitalizing on the Tour's popularity.

"This is the third season for the return of the Silverado Pro-Am Bass Tour and my second as the director after more than 25 years as a tournament angler myself," said Hildebrand, who co-hosts "FAN Outdoors", a weekly show on KFAN 1130 AM in Minneapolis. "This year we will pay back more than 100 percent of angler entries resulting in more than $200,000 payback in cash and prizes."

He also noted that KFAN will broadcast live at each stop from 6-8 a.m. the morning of each tournament.

The fourth event in the series will be Sept. 12 at Lake Minnetonka, then the Tour's Tournament of Champions will be held in the Chisago Lakes area on Sept. 20.