(Feb. 26, 2004 - Jasper, TX)
Local pro Bradley Stringer of Huntington, Texas, caught a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 38 pounds, 3 ounces to lead the first round of the $256,825 EverStart Series Central Division event on Sam Rayburn near Jasper, Texas. A full field competed in the first round of the tournament, which will award the winning pro as much as $61,900 in cash and prizes. The field was cut to 20 pros and 20 co-anglers for Friday's round.
After several days of warm weather and great fishing last weekend, Mother Nature decided to remind tournament participants that winter is not over. On day one, anglers experienced cold north winds, rough water and light rain. By Thursday morning, however, skies had cleared and temperatures warmed slightly. The improved conditions allowed anglers to fish main lake points that were inaccessible Wednesday due to rough water. Overall, weights were similar to day one.
"I was done fishing by noon," Stringer said. "I caught two good bass around 6 pounds first thing in the morning by slow rolling a spinnerbait and then caught three more by flipping the outside edge of bushes. I spent the rest of the day driving my co-angler around helping him get a limit.
"I've got three spots that the fish are funneling in to. So the areas are constantly being replenished with fish. The weather hasn't affected my areas, so I don't see why I won't be able to do the same thing tomorrow."
Rounding out the top five pros are Lloyd T. Pickett Jr. of Bartlett, Tenn. (10 bass, 32 pounds, 14 ounces); Larry Lovell of Emory (10 bass, 31 pounds, 1 ounce); Joe Gundel of Seligman, Mo. (10 bass, 30 pounds, 4 ounces); and David Truax of Beaumont (10 bass, 30 pounds, 3 ounces).
Frank Divis Sr. of Fayetteville, Ark., continued to dominate the Co-angler Division with another limit of five bass to give him a two-day total weight of 35 pounds. Divis‚ first round weight was the second largest of the tournament among either division.
"My pro, Shawn Strader, really wasn't on any fish," Divis said, "and in about 30 minutes I talked him in to doing what I did on day one. So I was able to catch a decent limit by dead-sticking a tube in the grass. I had a limit by 11 a.m."
Daniel Armstrong, also of Fayetteville, Ark., held onto second place with consecutive catches of four bass good for a first round weight of 30 pounds, 6 ounces.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Brian Branum of Lewisville (10 bass, 26 pounds, 9 ounces); Darren Roberts of Nacogdoches (six bass, 23 pounds, 10 ounces); and Charles Dubroc of Hessmer, La. (six bass, 20 pounds, 4 ounces).
Ben Carroll of Kissimmee, Fla., caught a 9 pound, 1 ounce bass to win the $750 Pro Division big bass award. The $250 co-angler big bass award went to R.D. Lewis of Hemphill thanks a to monster 10 pound largemouth.
Anglers caught 826 bass Thursday, including 59 five-bass limits, for a total of 2,013 pounds, 9 ounces. All bass were weighed alive.
Anglers will take off at 6:30 each morning from Twin Dikes Marina in Brookeland. Friday and Saturday's weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 800 W. Gibson in Jasper beginning at 4 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins.
The full field competes for two days to determine the top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers who advance to Friday's semifinal round based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for the semifinal round, and anglers compete for one day to determine who advances to Saturday's final round. Only the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers compete Saturday, and the winner is determined by the heaviest two-day weight.
The winning pro is guaranteed $10,000 cash plus an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger 519 VS equipped with Garmin electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart Batteries. If the winner is the original owner of a Ranger boat, he will receive a $10,000 bonus from Ranger for a top pro award worth $61,900. If he is a qualifying participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program, Ranger will award another $3,000 cash (or $1,500 to the highest-finishing Ranger Cup participant if not the winner), and Yamaha will match 50 percent of Ranger Cup winnings if the angler's boat is powered by a Yamaha outboard. Garmin will award the winning pro $1,000 if he uses only Garmin electronics and at least one unit is a qualifying unit.
The winning co-angler is guaranteed $5,000 cash, and if he is a Ranger boat owner, Ranger will award him a new Ranger 519 VS for a total prize package worth $35,000. Co-anglers who make the final round of each regular-season EverStart Series event and wear an EverStart/Evinrude shirt and cap on stage are awarded points toward the EverStart Batteries and Evinrude Outboard Engines Co-angler Award. The co-angler receiving the most points by the end of the season receives a 2004 Evinrude 225HO Direct Injection outboard engine rigged on a Ranger boat equipped with a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart batteries.
The EverStart Series features a pro/co-angler format with pros supplying the boats, fishing from the front deck against other pros and controlling boat movement. Co-anglers fish from the back deck and compete against other co-anglers. Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points that determine angler standings. Two hundred points are awarded to the winner, 199 points for second, 198 points for third, and so on.
Designed as a pathway to the $6.8 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the world's most lucrative bass-tournament series, the EverStart Series features four divisions - Eastern, Central, Northern and Western - with four regular-season events each. The season culminates with the $335,975 EverStart Series Championship, which will be held Nov. 3-6 on Lake Cumberland near Somerset, Ky. The event will be broadcast to 65 million subscribers of the Outdoor Life Network on the "FLW Outdoors" television series. Central Division anglers who finish in the top 40 in the final points standings are eligible to compete in the championship.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors is the world's leading marketer of competitive fishing. FLW Outdoors-sanctioned tournament trails are the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, EverStart Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour and Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League. EverStart Batteries, the best-selling batteries in the world, are marketed exclusively by Wal-Mart stores.
Wal-Mart and many of America's most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its six tournament trails. Wal-Mart has been the title sponsor of FLW Outdoors since 1997.