PORT CLINTON, Ohio (Aug. 21, 2003) – Joe Balog of Independence caught a two-day total of 10 bass that weighed 38 pounds, 7 ounces to lead the four-day $239,325 EverStart Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Balog landed five bass weighing 19 pounds, 9 ounces Thursday to lead the open round and take a step closer to a top pro award of $61,900 in cash and prizes, including a fully-rigged Ranger 519VS Comache.

Anglers continued to make long trips eastward on Thursday in hopes of making the semi-final round cut on Lake Erie, and tube baits continued to be the bait of choice for most of the top contenders. Balog caught his limit on ISG Dream tube in 25-35 feet of water.

“I caught my fish today in a location that I have fished for over 10 years,” said Balog, who won the 2001 EverStart Championship. “The slight southern wind today was perfect for my style of fishing.”

Rounding out the top five pros were Vic Vatalaro of Kent (10 bass, 37 pounds, 2 ounces); Scott Dobson of Waterford, Mich. (10 bass, 36 pounds, 9 ounces); Robert Sherry of Saint Charles, Ill. (10 bass, 35 pounds, 8 ounces); and Mike Trombly of Perrysburg (10 bass, 35 pounds).

Trevor Jancasz of White Pigeon, Mich., leads the Co-angler Division into Friday’s semifinal round with a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 36 pounds, 11 ounces.

“I have been fortunate this opening round to draw good partners,” said Jancasz, who caught his fish on a tube bait. “My pro partner put me on the fish today and I had my limit by 9 a.m.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers were Brad Baldwin of Dayton (10 bass, 31 pounds, 3 ounces); Mark Lyons of Marion, Ind. (10 bass, 31 pounds, 3 ounces); Eric Struif of Lake Villa, Ill. (10 bass, 29 pounds, 10 ounces); and Chuck Willis of Kettering (10 bass, 29 pounds, 10 ounces).

Gary Bucciarelli of Riverview, Mich., took pro big-bass honors and $750 Thursday thanks to his 5-pound, 3-ounce bass. Billy Gwaltney of Bella Vista, Ark., and Jason Putman of Kirkwood, Mo., tied for co-angler big-bass honors. Each caught a 5-pound, 4-ounce bass that earned them $250.

Eight hundred and one bass were caught Thursday, including 67 five-bass limits.

Anglers will take off from Dempsey State Access ramp in Marblehead at 6 a.m. each morning. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 4070 East Harbor Road in Port Clinton beginning at 4 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins.

Weights will be cleared for Friday’s competition, and the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers will advance to Saturday’s final round based on Friday’s total weight. Weights are again cleared for Saturday’s competition, and anglers compete for the heaviest one-day weight.

The winning pro will take home a guaranteed cash award of $10,000 plus a new Ranger 519VS Comanche equipped with Garmin electronics and powered by an Evinrude or Yamaha outboard. If the winner is the original owner of a Ranger boat, he will receive an additional $10,000 cash bonus from Ranger for a total of $61,900 in cash and prizes. Ranger will also award an additional $3,000 to the winner if he is a Ranger Cup participant, and Garmin will award $1,000 to the winner if his boat is equipped with a fixed-mount Garmin Fishfinder or combination GPS/Sounder.

The winning co-angler is guaranteed $5,000 cash. If the winning co-angler is a registered Ranger owner, he will also receive a new Ranger 519VS Comanche for a total of $27,800 in cash and prizes.

Four divisions – Eastern, Central, Northern and Western – comprise the 2003 EverStart Series. Each division stages four regular-season tournaments leading up to the no-entry-fee $335,975 EverStart Series Championship, which will be held on Old Hickory Lake near Gallatin, Tenn., Oct. 29-Nov. 1.

In EverStart Series competition, pros supply the boats, control boat movement and fish from the front of each boat against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back of each boat and compete against other co-anglers.

FLW Outdoors, the world’s leading marketer of competitive fishing, administers the EverStart Series. Other FLW Outdoors-sanctioned tournament trails include the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, the Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour and the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League. FLW Outdoors will award as much as $20 million through 175 tournaments in 2003.

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. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit

FLW Outdoors is named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood