GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (May 21, 2004) - Edward Gettys of Stevenson landed a semifinal-round catch of five bass weighing 24 pounds, 9 ounces Friday to lead the $256,825 EverStart Series Eastern Division event presented by Evinrude on Guntersville Lake. Gettys tops the list of 10 pros - out of a semifinal-round field of 20 - who advanced to Saturday's final round, after which the winning pro will earn as much as $61,900 in cash and prizes.

Gettys has two FLW Outdoors tournament wins to his credit, and both are on Guntersville, including an EverStart Series victory in 2002. In fact, of Getty's 10 career top-10 finishes, six came on his home lake of Guntersville, where he threw Senkos and jigs Friday to land his tournament-leading limit. Gettys leads the field by more than 4 pounds but claims on a big-fish producer like Guntersville, that's hardly enough lead to feel comfortable with.

"On this lake, that lead's not huge," Gettys said. "I had a really good day and caught some big fish, and you don't always get those. I had two really big fish - I guess one was about 7 pounds and one was about 6."

Gettys has fished a different area each of the three tournament days and is catching bass in shallow, medium and deep water. "Early in the day I was fishing in about 2 feet of water, and the deeper parts were about 11 feet," he said. "If I can get them to bite tomorrow I should have enough. The only thing that worries me is tomorrow's Saturday and the locals will be there, and they may be all over my spots."

Rounding out the top five pros are Micah Bennett of Summerville, S.C. (five bass, 20 pounds, 4 ounces); Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla. (five bass, 19 pounds, 11 ounces); Snickers pro Pat Fisher of Dacula, Ga. (five bass, 18 pounds, 1 ounce); and Mark Lamb of West Palm Beach, Fla. (five bass, 16 pounds, 1 ounce).

Ten co-anglers will also compete Saturday, and Greg Coots of Fyffe holds an 3-pound lead in the Co-angler Division thanks to a five-bass catch Friday that weighed 19 pounds, 5 ounces. Following Saturday's weigh-in the winning co-angler will earn as much as $35,000 in cash and prizes.

"My partner (Marshall Deakins) threw a Carolina rig, and I tried something a little different and caught all mine on a jig," said Coots, who is fishing his first career EverStart Series event. "I had five really early, and Marshall didn't have any; he had only two and caught three in the last three throws he made."

Like Gettys, Coots puts little stock into his hefty 3-pound lead. "Three pounds isn't much on this lake," he said. "That's one bite. It's pretty even among the top three or four of us, and it could go either way."

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Michi Oba of Tokyo (five bass, 16 pounds, 5 ounces); Joe Hawkins of Stafford, Va. (five bass, 13 pounds, 12 ounces); Stephen Semelsberger Jr. of Mount Airy, Md. (three bass, 11 pounds, 4 ounces); and Robert Kerber of Taberg, N.Y. (four bass, 10 pounds, 12 ounces).

Competition resumes at 6 a.m. Saturday from Guntersville State Park Pier, which is located at 1155 Lodge Drive in Guntersville. Saturday's weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 11697 Highway 431 S. in Guntersville beginning at 4 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend the final takeoff and weigh-in.

The tournament, which is the fourth and final regular-season Eastern Division event, began Wednesday with 200 pros and 200 co-anglers competing for two days to determine the top 20 who advanced to Friday's semifinal round. Weights were cleared for Friday's competition, and the top 10 pros and co-anglers will compete Saturday with winners determined by the heaviest two-day weights.

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. Eastern 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.