Mother Nature did not treat the Clear Lake area kindly Wednesday, bestowing chilly temperatures and a cold rain upon the EverStart Series competitors. Without the brilliant California sunshine, the bass went into hiding for several anglers, but Bolivar managed to catch not one but two bass weighing in excess of 8 pounds to claim the tournament lead.
“I had a good day,” said Bolivar, who caught most of his bass on a flipping pattern. “I got a couple of good bites that were like a godsend. I hope I can keep getting lucky; when it’s your time, a little luck pays off. There are a lot of small fishing being caught, but I caught two nice ones just fishing, and I felt really fortunate to get those.”
While Bolivar’s opening-day weight is typical of Clear Lake in the spring, he blames the bashful sunshine for Wednesday’s relatively lower weights overall. “Twenty-nine pounds is a good weight on this lake, but it’s not like it’s never been caught before,” he said. “The weather has knocked our weights down. It’s not uncommon to have a big stringer, especially this time of year. There are so many big fish in here – underneath every dock and every tule patch, you’ll see 8- to 10-pound fish just suspended under there.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Brent Ehrler of Redlands (five bass, 24 pounds, 2 ounces); Shaun Bailey of Agoura (five bass, 21 pounds, 4 ounces); Ken Wick of Star, Idaho (five bass, 19 pounds, 15 ounces); and David Gliebe of Stockton (five bass, 19 pounds, 4 ounces).
Gliebe earned $500 as the Pro Division big-bass award winner Wednesday with a whopping 9-pound, 8-ounce bass.
Brian Mlekush of Rancho Cucamonga leads the Co-angler Division after day one with a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 4 ounces. Rounding out the top four co-anglers are Dan Powers of Weaverville (five bass, 17 pounds, 12 ounces); Pat Wilson of Petaluma (five bass, 17 pounds, 2 ounces); and Gary Haraguchi of Antioch (five bass, 14 pounds, 10 ounces). Tied for fifth are John Morla of Ione and Chuck Holland of Wickenburg, Ariz. Both anglers caught five bass weighing 13 pounds, 14 ounces.
Mlekush claimed co-angler big-bass honors Wednesday and $200 with an 8-pound, 1-ounce bass.
A total of 1,234 bass were caught Wednesday, including 191 five-bass limits.
Anglers will take off each morning from Redbud Park in Clearlake at 7. Thursday’s weigh-in will also be held at Redbud Park beginning at 3 p.m., and Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 15960 Dam Road in Clearlake beginning at 4 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins.
The full field will compete for two days to determine the top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers who will 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 will advance 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 $8,500 cash plus an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger 519 VS equipped with Garmin electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart Batteries, based on a 150-boat field. 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 $60,400. 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 $4,500 cash based on a 150-boat field, and if he is a Ranger boat owner, Ranger will award him a new Ranger 519 VS for a total prize package worth $34,500. 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 $3.88 million 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 presented by Energizer, 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. Western Division anglers who finish in the top 30 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.