This was the first EverStart Series Northern Division tournament for the Wal-Mart FLW Tour pro and the first victory of his FLW Outdoors career.
Cauthen’s winning’s include $10,000 cash plus an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger 519VS Comanche bass boat equipped with EverStart batteries, Garmin electronics and a Minn Kota trolling motor. As the original owner of a Ranger boat, he was awarded an additional $10,000 bonus from Ranger Boats as well as another $3,000 as the highest-finishing participant in the Ranger Cup contingency program.
Zona, who has finished second in three out of four Northern Division tournaments this season, earned $10,000 for his five-bass catch weighing 14 pounds, 14 ounces. The runner-up finish also earned Zona the Northern Division’s Angler of the Year title with 735 out of a possible 800 points.
Rounding out the top five pros on Lake Champlain were Randy Ramsey of Battle Creek, Mich. (five bass, 14 pounds, 10 ounces, $9,000); Art Ferguson III of St. Clair Shores, Mich. (five bass, 14 pounds, $8,000); and Mike Trombly of Perrysburg, Ohio (five bass, 13 pounds, 15 ounces, $7,500).
Ramsey finished second in the Angler of the Year race with 729 points.
Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League veteran Dean Meckes of Clayton, N.Y., claimed victory in the Co-angler Division with the day’s overall heaviest catch, five smallmouth bass weighing 15 pounds, 8 ounces. He collected $5,000 cash for the win, and because he is the original owner of a Ranger boat, he was also awarded a new Ranger 519VS Comanche bass boat.
“I had my limit by around 11:30 a.m., and I was thinking that we had to be cautious and make it back to weigh-in without breaking anything,” said Meckes, who caught his bass in 2 to 8 feet of water on a Lucky Craft Pointer while fishing behind Zona. “I thought I had a real shot at winning, and the waves were building. It was so rough and so nasty that we came in at 1 p.m.”
This tournament was just the third EverStart Series event of Meckes’ career.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers were Kevin McClurg of Huntertown, Ind. (four bass, 8 pounds, 13 ounces, $4,000); Troy Sprague of Lincoln, Neb. (three bass, 4 pounds, 8 ounces, $3,500); Jeff Baffa of Tinley Park, Ill. (three bass, 3 pounds, 14 ounces, $2,500); and Philip Borsa of Redford, Mich. (two bass, 3 pounds, 11 ounces, $2,000).
Co-angler Trevor Jancasz of White Pigeon, Mich., earned Co-angler of the Year honors with 767 points.
A total of 54 bass were caught Saturday, including six five-bass limits. All of the bass were released alive.
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. Pros and co-anglers who finish in the top 40 in the regular-season standings earn an automatic berth into the no-entry-fee $335,975 EverStart Series Championship, which will be held on Old Hickory Lake near Gallatin, Tenn., Oct. 29-Nov. 1
Four divisions – Eastern, Central, Northern and Western – comprise the 2003 EverStart Series, and each division stages four regular-season tournaments leading up to the championship.
A full field of 200 pros and 200 co-anglers took off from Mooney Bay Marina in Plattsburgh Wednesday to kick off the Lake Champlain tournament. Thursday’s competition was cancelled do to high winds, and the field was cut to the top 21 pros and top 21 co-anglers for Friday’s semifinal round based on each angler’s opening day catch. The field was cut again to the top 10 pros and top 10 co-anglers for Saturday. Weights were cleared for the semifinal and final rounds.
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 FLWOutdoors.com.
FLW Outdoors is named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood.