Coates said his bass are replenishing in his area, and he feels like he'll have enough fish to bring in anther solid limit on Saturday. "I think there's enough to last," he said, "it's just a tough bite, and we have to get them in the boat. Losing a couple may mean losing the tournament."
Coates has been fishing with a watermelon Phoenix tube - a bait that's given him confidence so far. "It's hard to get away from throwing something that works, day in and day out," Coates said.
Rounding out the top five pros are Steve Clapper of Lima (five bass, 18 pounds 7 ounces); Aaron Hastings of Middletown, Md. (five bass, 18 pounds, 5 ounces); David Smith of Del City, Okla. (five bass, 14 pounds, 11 ounces); and Joe Balog of Harrison Township, Mich. (three bass, 12 pounds, 13 ounces).
John Wilson of Hazelwood, N.C., caught a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 11 ounces to lead the Co-angler Division. Wilson has led his division each day of the event thus far. He's been catching his bass by fishing a deep-water pattern with a drop-shot rig, but after fishing with Coates on Friday, he fished with a tube some as well. "I caught three on a drop-shot, but I caught my two biggest bass on the tube," Wilson said.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Ron Jackups of Fairfield (five bass, 18 pounds, 11 ounces); Mark Myers of Minneapolis, Minn. (five bass, 18 pounds, 3 ounces); Jason Allison of Washington, Pa. (four bass, 16 pounds) and Dale Fisher of Watsontown, Pa. (two bass, 6 pounds 5 ounces).
The narrowed field of 40 anglers caught a total of 59 bass weighing 208 pounds, 10 ounces on the third day of the event, giving each bass an impressive average weight of more than 3 1/2 pounds.
Voinovich Park located on 9th Street in Cleveland hosts the daily takeoffs at 6:30 a.m. Saturday's weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart located at 3606 Mayfield Road in Cleveland Heights beginning at 4 p.m.
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.