During practice, anglers feared the fishing would be tough due to water temperatures in the high 40s – very cool for Lake Eufaula. An extended period of 80-degree days, however, bumped the water temperature up to about 60 degrees by Saturday. Responding to warmer water, bass became more active each day of the tournament. Over the course of the tournament, anglers caught well over 5000 pounds of bass on a variety of lures including spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jigs.
“I caught my fish yesterday on a spinnerbait,” Kreiger said, “But I changed up a little today. The fished moved up shallower since yesterday and were in one foot of water. I still threw the spinnerbait for a while, but I caught three keepers on a buzzbait and caught one site fishing. All of my fish came from a big spawning flat that had a ditch that went by it.”
Rounding out the top five pros were Jacob Powroznik of Prince George, Va. (10 bass, 32 pounds, 10 ounces); Greg Pugh of Cullman (10 bass, 30 pounds, 15 ounces); Tim Peek of Sharpesburg, Ga. (10 bass, 30 pounds, 15 ounces); and George Alexander of Jacksonville, Fla. (10 bass, 28 pounds, 12 ounces).
Jeff Carman of Liberty, Ky., absolutely dominated the Co-angler Division thanks to a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 36 pounds, 5 ounces. Carman caught nearly 60 pounds over the final three days (he only boated one keeper on day one) and won the tournament by more than 12 pounds. Carman won $5,000 cash plus a Ranger 519 VS for a total prize package worth $35,000.
“I had been throwing a jig on steep banks,” Carman said, ‘but I fished with Koby today and he was in one foot of water, so I had to adapt. I was able to catch a couple keepers where Koby caught all his fish, but he saved the last hour and a half to go to my spots. We went back to the steep banks, but the fish had moved up shallower. So I threw a jerkbait parallel to lay downs and finished out my limit.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers were Ronald Mueller of Prosperity, S.C. (10 bass, 23 pounds, 10 ounces); Mike Freeman of Oxford (10 bass, 23 pounds, 1 ounce); Wayne Colonna of Tallahassee, Fla. (nine bass, 22 pounds, 8 ounces); and Joseph Webster of Fulton, Miss. (six bass, 17 pounds, 15 ounces).
Anglers caught 77 bass Saturday, including 11 five-bass limits, that weighted 198 pounds, 8 ounces. All but one bass were weighed alive.
The full field competed for two days to determine the top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers who advanced to Friday’s semifinal round based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights were cleared for the semifinal round, and anglers competed for one day to determine who advanced to Saturday’s final round. Only the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers competed Saturday, and the winner was determined by the heaviest two-day weight.
The winning pro was 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 was the original owner of a Ranger boat, he received a $10,000 bonus from Ranger for a top pro award worth $61,900. If he was a qualifying participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program, Ranger awarded another $3,000 cash (or $1,500 to the highest-finishing Ranger Cup participant if not the winner), and Yamaha matched 50 percent of Ranger Cup winnings if the angler’s boat was powered by a Yamaha outboard. Garmin awarded the winning pro $1,000 if he uses only Garmin electronics and at least one unit is a qualifying unit.
The winning co-angler was guaranteed $5,000 cash, and if he was a Ranger boat owner, Ranger awarded 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.