On an extremely tough day on the water, Lyon scratched out five keepers but leads by only 6 ounces. With fourth place only 15 ounces behind Lyon, the tournament is certainly still up for grabs. While weather conditions improved Friday and fewer boats were on the water, anglers still had a hard time finding keeper bass. Of the 20 pros and 20 co-anglers that competed Friday, only 10 limits were caught.
“I’m just proud to make the cut,” Lyon said. “I caught six keepers today and this is my best day of the tournament so far. I’m drop-shotting in deep water, but I’m also fishing a jig in 12 to 14 feet of water.
“The key is finding the baitfish. It doesn’t matter what depth you’re fishing. It doesn’t matter what type of lure you’re using. The only thing that really matters is the location of those baitfish. The bass are waiting for the baitfish to move, and then they’re ambushing the bait. I’ve found two areas where the baitfish are holding, and my partner and I have had double hook-ups several times this week when the baitfish started moving.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Kevin Martin of El Cajon, Calif. (five bass, 7 pounds, 15 ounces); Art Berry of Ramona, Calif. (five bass, 7 pounds, 7 ounce); Marcus Clouse of Henderson, Nev. (three bass, 7 pounds, 6 ounces); and Mike Bush of West Hills, Calif. (five bass, 6 pounds, 3 ounces).
Rick Klassen of Spring Valley, Calif., jumped from 10th place to take the lead in the Co-angler Division with four bass weighing 8 pounds, 10 ounces – the largest weight of the day in either division.
“I’m just high as a kite right now,” Klassen said. “I’m having a great time. I’ve drawn fantastic partners this week. I fished with Paul Hodges (from Glendale) today and he worked so hard to give me plenty of water to fish. Yesterday I fished with Lyon, and that was great also. Fishing as a co-angler in these events is a great deal. This is my first EverStart event, but it will not be my last.
“I’ve been throwing the same bait every day of the tournament, a super-light drop-shot finesse rig. I’ve caught all my fish in 25 to 35 feet of water. The areas that seem to produce the best are big, rocky ledges that are steep and deep.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Tony Sarkis of Phoenix (five bass, 7 pounds, 15 ounces); Jeff Grant of La Mirada, Calif. (five bass, 7 pounds, 4 ounces); Gary Collins of Moorpark, Calif. (five bass, 6 pounds, 11 ounces); and Steve Amata of Payson, Utah (five bass, 6 pounds, 3 ounces).
Anglers caught 111 bass Friday, including 10 five-bass limits. Total weight for bass caught Thursday was 165 pounds, 15 ounces. More than 97 percent of the bass were released.
Anglers will take off Saturday morning at 7 a.m. from Pleasant Harbor Marina in Peoria. Saturday’s weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 18551 N. 83rd Ave. in Glendale beginning at 4 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend the takeoff and weigh-in.
A full field of 162 boats 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 compete Saturday, and the winner is 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. 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). The program also includes the “Powered by Yamaha” contingency award, which awards an additional 50 percent of Ranger Cup bonus to the Ranger Cup winner if the 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, 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.
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.
The second Western Division tournament will be held March 17-20 on Lake Havasu in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., followed by a stop on Clear Lake in Clearlake, Calif., April 14-17. Regular-season competition concludes May 5-8 with a tournament presented by Garmin on the California Delta near Oakley, Calif.
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. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit FLWOutdoors.com.