NATCHITOCHES, La. (April 28, 2004) – Louisiana’s Red River is the playing ground for this week’s $256,825 EverStart Series Central Division event presented by Schick Quattro, and Robert Robinson of Mobile, Ala., leads the pack of 200 Pro Division anglers after day one in their quest to capture a top award worth as much as $61,900 in cash and prizes. Robinson caught five bass Wednesday that weighed 18 pounds, 4 ounces to kick off the four-day event with a scant 3-ounce lead.

The Red River EverStart Series event is typically held in June, and anglers are finding the late-April postspawn bass to be a little sluggish after several days of intense fishing pressure. Robinson, however, locked into a gold mine during pretournament practice and milked one of his four spots for his tournament-leading limit.

“I’m strictly flipping,” said Robinson, a former Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League standout who is competing in his first season on the EverStart Series. “I figured these fish have seen enough spinnerbaits and buzzbaits during the past week that they’re probably running from them right now. Considering you had to throw out the fast-moving baits, it was actually a slow bite That’s where a lot of people made their mistake. Last week anybody could have caught 12 to 15 pounds on a spinnerbait, but when you’ve got 200 pros pre-fishing and half the co-angler field trying to figure out what the fish are biting, that puts a lot of pressure on the fish. Any time you’re on a river system like this, it’ll hurt (the bite).”

Robinson’s heaviest bass of the day weighed about 4 1/2 pounds and he estimates he caught 12 to 15 keepers over the course of the day, but he has no plans to return to his crowded sweet spot tomorrow. “I actually have four solid patterns going on four different lures,” he said. “I ran one pattern today, and I will not go back there tomorrow. I’ll go somewhere else and run a totally different pattern.”

Rounding out the top five pros are Randy Millender of Teague, Texas (five bass, 18 pounds, 1 ounce); Trey Morgan of Goldonna (five bass, 15 pounds, 3 ounces); Glenn Maxwell of Crossett, Ark. (five bass, 13 pounds, 15 ounces); and Scott Rook of Little Rock, Ark. (five bass, 13 pounds, 11 ounces).

Brian Branum of Lewisville, Texas, leads the 200-competitor Co-angler Division after day one with a five-bass catch Wednesday that weighed 12 pounds, 3 ounces.

“I started out this morning flipping a 3/8-ounce jig and caught the one big fish I weighed in on that,” Branum said. “I got no more bites for an hour or two, so I switched my gear to really light tackle and started fishing a 6-inch worm Texas-style. The fishing is a little bit slow because the fish are just getting through spawning. Postspawn – it’s a nasty word in fishing. There’s lots of people around, too, and that’s probably spooking the fish.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Steve Graf of Natchitoches (five bass, 10 pounds, 5 ounces); William Adcock of Dadeville, Ala. (four bass, 10 pounds, 3 ounces); Jay Lamb of Kansas City, Mo. (four bass, 9 pounds, 15 ounces); and James Jacobs of San Angelo, Texas (four bass, 9 pounds, 4 ounces).

Millender earned $750 Wednesday as the Pro Division big-bass winner with a 6-pound, 6-ounce bass. Adcock caught a 5-pound bass to earn $250 as the co-angler big-bass winner.

The Grand Encore launching facility in Natchitoches hosts daily takeoffs at 6:30 a.m. Thursday’s weigh-in will also be held at Grand Encore, located at 160 Rufus Morgan Road, beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 925 Keyser Ave. in Natchitoches at 4 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins.

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 full field of anglers will compete again Thursday to determine the 20 pros who will advance to Friday’s competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for Friday’s semifinal round, and the 20 pros and 20 co-anglers who advanced to the semifinal round will compete for one day to determine the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers who will advance to Saturday’s final-round. The 10 final-round competitors will continue competition, with the winner determined by the heaviest two-day weight.

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.