Anglers competing in the Pro Division will fish for a top award worth as much as $60,000 while co-angler competitors cast for a top award worth as much as $35,000. Competitors will also be vying for valuable points that could earn them a berth into the $1 million EverStart Series Championship in Florence, Ala., for a shot at $140,000 in the Pro Division and $70,000 in the Co-angler Division.
"Anglers will have the option of fishing two separate patterns on the river," said Bill Sepke of North Aurora, Ill., who won the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division season opener at Onalaska in May. "The smallmouths can be found in flowing backwater areas, around points.
"There will also be a potentially good slop bite for largemouths at that time," Sepke said. "There's lots of matted weed growth, so anglers might do well fishing a floating rat-type bait over them."
Sepke said that while the smallmouth bite is the one to target early in the spring, heavy stringers of largemouth bass will probably carry the late-summer event. Sepke called for a final-round total of 27 pounds to win the event.
Anglers will take off from Clinton Street Landing West in La Crosse. Wednesday and Thursday's weigh-ins will also be held at the marina. Friday and Saturday's weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 1210 Crossing Meadows Drive in Onalaska beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
Two hundred pros and 200 co-anglers will compete for two days to determine the top 10 pros and top 10 co-anglers who advance to the final round based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for the final round, and anglers compete for two more days to determine the winner. Winners are determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.
The winning pro earns an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger 519VX equipped with Garmin electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart batteries plus $10,000 cash. If the winner is the original owner of a Ranger boat that is used during the tournament, the winner also receives a $10,000 bonus from Ranger for a top pro award of $60,000. If the winning pro is a Ranger Cup participant, 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, thus boosting potential winnings for the top pro to $65,500.
The winning co-angler receives $5,000 cash, and if the winner is a Ranger boat owner, Ranger will award 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 also 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 an Evinrude 225HO Direct Injection outboard engine rigged on a Ranger boat equipped with a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart batteries.
In EverStart Series competition pros supply the boats, fish from the front deck against other pros and control 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. The top 40 pros and top 40 co-anglers from each of the EverStart Series' five divisions - Central, Northeast, Northern, Southeast and Western - will advance to the $1 million EverStart Series Championship on Pickwick Lake Nov. 2-5. The top 10 pros and top 10 co-anglers from each division also qualify for the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the world's most lucrative tournament series, where they can compete for a share of $7.6 million in 2006.
Each EverStart Series Division features four regular-season tournaments.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the EverStart Series and seven other national tournament circuits offering a combined $30 million in awards through 214 events in 2005. The 27-year-old organization is the purveyor of America's largest and most prestigious fishing tournaments, including the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, EverStart Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour and Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series.
For more information on FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.
Wal-Mart and many of America's largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as title sponsor of the FLW Tour in 1997 and today is the title sponsor of all FLW Outdoors events. For more information on Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com.