The tournament will pay out as much as $256,825 in cash and prizes to as many as 200 pros and 200 co-anglers that are expected to compete. The winning pro will earn as much as $61,900 in cash and prizes based on a full field, including a fully rigged Ranger boat.
The Mississippi River event should prove to be a challenging one for EverStart Series competitors thanks to a no-cull rule on the popular Minnesota/Wisconsin fishery. “That no-cull rule can make things tricky,” said Kellogg’s pro Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., winner of the 2002 EverStart Series event on the Mississippi River. “It makes it really hard to predict the weights. You can either gamble or play it safe. Either way, it could cost you.”
Lefebre expects the river’s heavier largemouths to be more of a factor this year and predicts that anglers will be targeting spawning bass around shallow weedbeds, rock and wood. He looks for jigs tipped with small soft-plastic trailers to be the most productive lures and believes it could take up to 24 pounds to claim the tournament win.
Anglers will take off at 6 each morning from Treasure Island Resort and Casino, located at 5734 Sturgeon Lake Road in Welch. Wednesday and Thursday’s weigh-ins will also be held there beginning at 2:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 295 Tyler Road S. in Red Wing beginning at 3:30 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 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 advances 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 $10,000 cash plus an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger 519 VS equipped with Garmin electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart batteries. 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 $61,900. 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 $5,000 cash, and if he is a Ranger boat owner, Ranger will award him a new Ranger 519 VS for a total prize package worth $35,000. 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 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, 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. Northern Division anglers who finish in the top 40 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.