Fishing & Boating News

Defor Leads First Round Of $256,825 EverStart Series Event On Lake Eufaula

by: Dave Washburn, vp comm, FLW Outdoors

(Mar. 04, 2004 - EUFAULA, AL.) Pro Ott Defoe of Knoxville, Tenn., caught a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 41 pounds to lead the first round of the $256,825 EverStart Series Eastern Division event on Lake Eufaula near Eufaula, Ala. A full field of 200 pros and 200 co-anglers competed in the first round, but only the top 20 from each division survived to fish Friday's round. The winning pro for this event will earn as much as $61,900 in cash and prizes, and the co-angler winner could collect up to $35,000 in cash and prizes. The balmy, 80-degree weather at Eufaula continues to rapidly warm water temperatures. Weights improved slightly over yesterday's solid catches. While many pros feel the larger females are still in deeper water, Defoe has found some impressive bass in very shallow water. "The water temperature in the creek I'm fishing is actually in the low 60s," said Defoe, a rookie EverStart angler. "I was fishing pretty shallow with a crankbait, and I was also flipping some. I'll continue doing the same thing tomorrow." Rounding out the top five pros are Rodger Beaver of Leesburg, Ga. (10 bass, 40 pounds, 13 ounces); Steve Kennedy of Auburn (10 bass, 37 pounds); Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla. (nine bass, 36 pounds, 1 ounce); and Rusty Smith of Macon, Ga. (10 bass, 33 pounds, 12 ounces). Bennie Patton of Dunnville, Ky., leads the Co-angler Division thanks to a two-day total of nine bass weighing 26 pounds, 9 ounces. "I had a very lucky day," Patton said. "I started the day with a spinnerbait and caught a 5 pounder. Then I switched to a Rogue and caught another 5 pounder and a 3 pounder. Then later in the day, I switched back to the spinnerbait and caught another 5 pounder. Other than a short fish, that was all I caught, but they were all nice fish." Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Robert Mulleins of Cumberland, Va. (nine bass, 25 pounds, 4 ounces); Jeff Carmen of Liberty, Ky. (six bass, 24 pounds, 14 ounces); Joseph Webster of Fulton, Miss. (eight bass, 21 pounds, 5 ounces); and John Crosby Jr. of Macon, Ga. (seven bass, 20 pounds, 13 ounces). Carmen jumped from the bottom of the pack into third place with five bass on Thursday that weighed 22 pounds, 13 ounces. Steve Kennedy earned $750 as the big-bass award winner in the Pro Division thanks to an 8-pound, 2-ounce largemouth. Robert Russell of Smyrna, Tenn., and G. Robert Reed of Crofton, Md., tied for co-angler big-bass honors with 6-pound, 15-ounce bass that earned them $125 each. Anglers caught 858 bass Thursday, including 65 five-bass limits, that weighted 2,320 pounds, 14 ounces. More than 99 percent of the bass were released alive. Anglers will take off each morning at 6 from Lakepoint Resort State Park in Eufaula. Friday and Saturday‚s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 1218 S. Eufaula Ave. in Eufaula 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. Eastern 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.