PEORIA, Ariz. (Jan. 14, 2004) – To kick off its second year of action, the EverStart Series Western Division is returning to where it all began – Lake Pleasant near Peoria, Ariz., for a $214,525 event Jan. 28-31. As many as 300 pros and co-anglers are expected to compete in the tournament, which will award the winning pro as much as $60,400 in cash and prizes.

Pro Brett Hite of Phoenix claimed the first-ever Western Division win a year ago on Lake Pleasant, and he expects bass to be in much the same mood as they were last year. According to Hite, the behavior of Pleasant bass is likely to be determined by weather conditions preceding the tournament, and they will probably be found both shallow and deep and in a strong prespawn pattern.

Hite said deep-water connoisseurs are likely to find the most takers holding along rocky creek-channel breaks in 25 to 30 feet of water. Watermelon- or oxblood-pattern finesse worms rigged drop-shot or Carolina-style will likely be the most productive lure combinations. Anglers looking for a shallower bite, however, might key on water-depth ranges of 2 to 7 feet with a shad-pattern Zoom Fluke or jerkbait. No matter which pattern competitors choose, they should be prepared for company, as the lake is known to fish small this time of year.

Anglers will take off each morning at 7 a.m. from Pleasant Harbor Marina in Peoria. Wednesday and Thursday’s weigh-ins will also be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 18551 N. 83rd Ave. in Glendale 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). 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.

The second Western Division tournament will be held March 17-20 on Lake Havasu in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., followed by a stop on Clear Lake in Clearlake, Calif., April 14-17. Regular-season competition concludes May 5-8 with a tournament presented by Garmin on the California Delta near Oakley, Calif.

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.