OAKLEY, Calif. (May 5, 2004) – Pro Bernie Gaunt of West Sacramento caught a huge, five-bass limit Wednesday weighing 28 pounds, 13 ounces to lead the $208,605 EverStart Series Western Division event on the California Delta near Oakley. A field of 145 boats is competing in the tournament, which will award the winning pro as much as $59,900 in cash and prizes.

Gaunt landed the Pro Division Snickers Big Bass – a gigantic 12-pound, 9-ounce largemouth. The huge bass was only 2 ounces shy of the FLW Outdoors record caught by Jeary Wheeler of Batesville, Ark., at the 2003 EverStart Series Central Division event on Sam Rayburn. Gaunt’s impressive catch earned him $500. Along with an 8-pounder and three other keepers, Gaunt leads the nearest competitor by more than 5 pounds.

“I fish the Delta 60 to 80 times per year,” Gaunt said, “so I know it fairly well. I found a spot about three years ago that doesn’t have as much grass as the surrounding area, and that’s where I caught my fish. The area is holding prespawn, spawning and postspawn bass.

“I was drop-shotting a 6-inch worm. At high tide the spot was 5 feet deep, and at low tide the water was 2 feet deep. Over the past two weeks, the fish seem to be more active at high tide going out.

Rounding out the top five pros are Gary Howell of Stockton (five bass, 23 pounds, 1 ounce); Charlie Weyer of West Hills (five bass, 20 pounds, 12 ounces); Mike Folkestad of Yorba Linda (five bass, 20 pounds, 3 ounces); and Dub Lashot of Walterville, Ore. (five bass, 20 pounds, 2 ounces).

Bob Weaver of Lawton, Okla., leads the Co-angler Division thanks to a hefty limit weighing 23 pounds, 4 ounces. Weaver also landed the Co-angler Division Snickers Big Bass – a 9-pound, 8-ounce largemouth – worth $200.

“I’m just out here fishing for fun,” said Weaver, a longtime pro in the EverStart Series Central Division. “I had a vacation trip scheduled, and figured I would fish as a co-angler to enjoy the great fishing on the Delta. This is my first time here.

“I caught the big bass on a crankbait and caught a 7-pounder on a Brush Hog. The fish came from 3 to 8 feet of water. The fish really turned on when the tides came in and out and got the water moving.

“The real key for me today was not missing any fish. Nothing got off. The big fish jumped and went everywhere, but I didn’t loose any.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Don Shimatsu of Glen Ellen (five bass, 16 pounds, 6 ounces); Gary Wilson of Tracy (five bass, 14 pounds, 9 ounces); Pat Wilson of Petaluma (five bass, 14 pounds, 3 ounces); and Reese Randall of Payson, Ariz. (five bass, 13 pounds, 15 ounces).

Anglers caught 1118 bass Wednesday, including 157 five-bass limits, that weighted 2385 pounds, 12 ounces.

Big Break Marina in Oakley will host daily takeoffs each morning at 6. Thursday’s weigh-in will also be held there beginning at 3 p.m., and Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 4893 Lone Tree Way in Antioch beginning at 4 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins.

The 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 $8,000 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 $59,900. 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 $4,200 cash based on a 145-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 $34,200. 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.

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.