Fishing conditions remained steady throughout the week. Temperatures rose slightly every day, peaking on Saturday in the high 90s. Bass moved up on the beds in rounds, and anglers continued to sight-fish as their primary technique.
“We caught some really good smallmouths that had moved up on the beds overnight,” said Goodwin, a Champion pro team member. “I started out a little slow today, but everything worked out great for me and my partner, Mario Caporuscio, who won the Co-angler Division. It’s tough to do well on your home lake, so I’m really proud to have won this tournament. And I’m thrilled to have been able to help Mario win.
“They key for me all week was being versatile. I went back of forth between deep and shallow water every day. My primary baits were a brown jig, which is a smallmouth-catching machine on this lake, a drop-shot finesse worm and a Kinami Palm Tree.”
Rounding out the top five pros were Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif. (10 bass, 27 pounds, 9 ounces); Justin Kerr of Simi Valley, Calif. (10 bass, 24 pounds, 13 ounces); John Suzow of Newberry Park, Calif. (nine bass, 24 pounds, 13 ounces); and Jon Strelic of Alpine, Calif. (10 bass, 24 pounds, 2 ounces).
Mario Caporuscio of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., won the Co-angler Division thanks to nine bass weighing 19 pounds, 10 ounces. Caporuscio, who led after day three, received $4,500 cash for winning the title.
“I started off great this morning,” Capouscio said. “On my first cast I caught a keeper and then caught another keeper a few minutes later. So I had two in the boat before my pro (Mike Goodwin) boated a fish. That really took the edge off. All my fish (four smallmouths and one largemouth) were caught on a drop-shot with a 4 1/2-inch Robo worm.
I’m really grateful to Mike. At about 1 p.m. he had a good limit and spent the rest of the day really helping me out. If we came up on a fish that wasn’t big enough to help him out, he would let me catch it. So I’m really thankful for drawing Mike today. Sometimes you’re only as good as your pro.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers were Charlie Crawford of Peoria (nine bass, 18 pounds, 11 ounces); Jeff Dean of Lake Havasu City (eight bass, 16 pounds, 3 ounces); Jason Caine of Las Vegas, Nev. (eight bass, 15 pounds, 15 ounces); and Gary Collins of Moorpark, Calif. (10 bass, 15 pounds, 4 ounces).
Anglers caught 85 bass Saturday, including 14 five-bass limits, for a total weight of 171 pounds, 5 ounces. All 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 is guaranteed $8,500 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 $60,400. 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 $4,500 cash based on a 150-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 $34,500. 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.
The next EverStart Series Western Division event will be held on Clear Lake near Clearlake, Calif., staring on April 14. The final Western Division event of the year will beheld on The California Delta near Oakley, Calif., from May 5-8.
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.