NATCHITOCHES, La. (April 30, 2004) – Pro George Jeane Jr. of Evans took a hefty 4-pound, 2-ounce lead heading into the final day of the $256,825 EverStart Series Central Division event presented by Schick Quattro on Louisiana’s Red River thanks to a five-bass catch Friday that weighed 17 pounds, 13 ounces. Jeane tops the list of 10 pro anglers who will fish Saturday for a top award worth as much as $61,900 in cash and prizes, including a fully rigged Ranger boat.

While day-one leader Robert Robinson of Mobile, Ala., claimed Red River bass had seen too many spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, Jeane managed to coax the bass into biting those lures once more with a solid shallow-water pattern. With his substantial lead, Jeane put himself in prime position to take his first EverStart Series win Saturday, but if not, he has already claimed his first career EverStart Series top-10 finish. He began fishing the EverStart Series in 2003 after a successful Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League career highlighted by a second-place finish in the 2002 Cowboy Division points standings.

“I’m catching all my fish on a spinnerbait and a buzzbait in really heavy cover in 3 to 5 feet of water,” Jeane said. “They’re all coming out of one area, an area I found in practice Friday. I’ve only had one boat in three days come in on me, and that’s very unusual. The rain and cloud cover is helping my fish a lot. When the sun comes out, they quit biting. My problem all week, though, has been getting the fish out of the heavy cover, but today I didn’t lose a fish. I had seven keeper bites today.”

Rounding out the top five pros are Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky. (five bass, 13 pounds, 11 ounces); Kenneth Sheets of Pevely, Mo. (four bass, 12 pounds, 15 ounces); Glenn Maxwell of Crossett, Ark. (five bass, 11 pounds, 15 ounces); and Kenneth Chapman of Woodlawn, Tenn. (five bass, 11 pounds, 15 ounces).

Terry Retalic of Fayetteville, Ark., leads the Co-angler Division into the final round with his five-bass catch Friday that weighed 9 pounds, 3 ounces, the lone five-bass limit on the co-angler side.

“I’m using a variety of baits – anything from a tube to a crankbait to a buzzbait to a spinnerbait,” said Retalic, who is also enjoying his best EverStart Series performance to date. “We’re just covering a lot of bank. I’m not having a tough time getting them in the boat, but the fish we’ve been on have been really spotty. You have to cover a lot of bank until you find some, and when you do, you’ll get two or three bites.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Stephen Francis of Brookeland, Texas (three bass, 7 pounds, 3 ounces); Mike Williams of Cresson, Texas (four bass, 5 pounds, 10 ounces); Denny Wilkins of Lubbock, Texas (three bass, 5 pounds, 1 ounce); and Jay Lamb of Kansas City, Mo. (three bass, 5 pounds).

The Grand Encore launching facility, which is located at 160 Rufus Morgan Road in Natchitoches, will host the final-round takeoff at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. The final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 925 Keyser Ave. in Natchitoches beginning at 4 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend the takeoff and weigh-in.

A full field of 200 pros and 200 co-anglers began the tournament Wednesday and competed for two days for one of 20 semifinal-round slots in each division based on two-day accumulated weights. Weights were cleared for Wednesday’s competition, and anglers competed one day for one of 10 final-round slots in each division. Weights carry over for the final round, and winners are 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. Central 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.