The 10 final-round pros and 10 co-anglers faced rougher water Saturday than they had seen earlier in the event, with some anglers battling 5- to 7-foot waves. Hazy skies and wind forced some competitors to change their tactics, including Hayward.
“I had saved an area for (Saturday), so I was hoping that I would make it the three other days, and the plan I had worked,” said Hayward, a successful EverStart Series and Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League angler who has 11 top-10 finishes to his credit, including three BFL wins. “I was catching them on a watermelon/gold flake ISG tube in 35 feet of water. I fish out here a lot, and I’m used to running in rough water. I just take my time and make sure I don’t break everything so that when I get to where I want to be, I can fish. I ran about 50 miles today across really rough, open water – it was rough when we took off, and it got worse as the day went on. But this is great; it’s a dream come true. It’s the goal of everyone who’s here, and there are a lot of good fishermen here. It’s always pretty awesome to win.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Mark Zona of Sturgis (five bass, 15 pounds, 7 ounces, $10,000); Mike Trombly of Perrysburg, Ohio (five bass, 14 pounds, 3 ounces, $9,000); Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa. (five bass, 13 pounds, 5 ounces, $8,000); and Bob Izumi of Milton, Ontario (five bass, 12 pounds, 14 ounces, $7,500).
Grant Hatfield of Wadsworth, Ohio, caught five bass Saturday that weighed 15 pounds, 14 ounces to earn $5,000 as winner of the Co-angler Division. He caught his tournament-winning bass on a 3 1/2-inch green-colored tube off Pelee Island.
“We fished in 25 to 30 feet of water, and we caught a lot of fish right there in one spot on the east side of Pelee Island,” said Hatfield, who claimed victory in his first-ever EverStart Series event. “It took a long run to get there, and we actually had boat trouble. My partner (Randy Ramsey) borrowed a boat from Joe Balog, and we got halfway to Pelee Island, which is about a 32-mile run in 3- to 4-foot waves, and we looked over and the trolling motor was almost broken off. Then we ripped a hole in the carpet, so we really ripped up Joe’s boat to get my fish, but for me it was worth it! We gave it a shot and swung the bat, and this is the first tournament I’ve ever won.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Andrew Lemle of Perrysburg, Ohio (five bass, 14 pounds, 12 ounces, $4,000); James Dixon of Southfield (five bass, 13 pounds, 11 ounces, $3,500); Trevor Jancasz of White Pigeon (five bass, 13 pounds, 10 ounces, $2,500); and Mike Graalman of Genoa, Ohio (five bass, 12 pounds, 6 ounces, $2,000).
A total of 83 bass were caught Saturday, including 13 five-bass limits.
The EverStart Series Northern Division will make its third stop Aug. 20-23 on Lake Erie in Marblehead, Ohio. Four divisions – Eastern, Central, Northern and Western – comprise the $3.88 million EverStart Series. Each division stages four regular-season tournaments leading up to the no-entry-fee $335,975 EverStart Series Championship, which will be held on Old Hickory Lake near Gallatin, Tenn., Oct. 29-Nov. 1.
A full field of 200 pros and 200 co-anglers took off from Elizabeth Park in Trenton Wednesday to kick off the event. The field was cut from 200 to 20 in both divisions following Thursday’s competition. Weights were cleared for Friday’s semifinal round, and the top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers competed Friday for one of 10 slots in Saturday’s final round. Weights were again cleared for Saturday’s competition, and the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers competed for position and prize money.
In EverStart Series competition, pros supply the boats, control boat movement and fish from the front of each boat against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back of each boat and compete against other co-anglers.
FLW Outdoors, the world’s leading marketer of competitive fishing, administers the EverStart Series. Other FLW Outdoors-sanctioned tournament trails include the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, the Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour and the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League. FLW Outdoors will award as much as $20 million through 175 tournaments in 2003.
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. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit FLWOutdoors.com.
FLW Outdoors is named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood.