“I didn’t have a fish until 11 this morning,” Butts said. “But then I caught a 5-pounder and decided I needed to run the rest of my water. So I moved to another area and started catching them. I caught my fifth keeper at 2:30 p.m. and then quit fishing and went looking. I’m sight fishing.
“I’m mainly using a jig, Zoom plastics and a topwater plug. There are more fish moving up each day, so I think I can catch enough over the next two days to win.”
Rounding out the top-five pros Pedigree pro Steve Kennedy of Auburn (10 bass, 30 pounds, 10 ounces); Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tenn. (10 bass, 30 pounds, 5 ounces); Asa Godsey of Clewiston, Fla. (10 bass, 29 pounds, 15 ounces); and Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C. (10 bass, 27 pounds, 1 ounce).
Godsey caught a 6-pound, 13-ounce largemouth to win the day’s Snickers Big Bass award for the Pro Division and earn $675.
Richard Mitchell of Appling, Ga., caught a round-one total of eight bass weighing 20 pounds, 2 ounces to lead the Co-angler Division.
“I really have to give all the credit to my pro partners,” Mitchell said. “My first-day partner, Lynn Callahan, took very good care of me, and my partner today, Bobby Boyd, went above and beyond his duties as a pro. He told me this morning that he wasn’t on enough fish to help him, so he’d try to help me make the cut. Bobby took me to several bedding fish he knew of and let me fish for one for an hour. I just don’t know what to say. I hope one day I can repay him for helping me out so much.”
Rounding out the top-five co-anglers are James Barnick of Pembroke Pines, Fla. (10 bass, 19 pounds, 3 ounces); Matthew Parker of Whitesburg, Ga. (seven bass, 16 pounds, 12 ounces); Johnny Pittman of Somerville, Ala. (seven bass, 16 pounds); and Ronald Mueller of Prosperity, S.C. (nine bass, 15 pounds, 13 ounces).
Tony Haymon of West Palm Beach, Fla., caught the Snickers Big Bass in the Co-angler Division – a 6-pound, 15-ounce bass worth $235.
Anglers caught 850 bass Thursday weighing 1,531 pounds, 14 ounces.
EverStart Series tournaments are four-day events consisting of two rounds. The entire field competes Wednesday and Thursday, and the top 10 pros and co-anglers – based on two-day accumulated weights – advance to the final round. Anglers start at zero Friday, and pro and co-angler winners are determined Saturday based on two-day accumulated weights.