Moody’s prolific limit of bass – nearly three times the 20th-place catch weight – was something of an oddity on a day when many anglers found it tough to catch even one keeper fish. Pickwick’s recently introduced 15-inch minimum size limit no doubt challenged the anglers, but Moody also chalked the conditions up to the bass’ current period of transition as well as a lower water level due to a weekend drawdown.
“I was very fortunate to find a place that had that size of fish on it,” said Moody, a tournament veteran who has also found considerable success in the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League. “I caught them all in less than an hour. I had one that weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces, and the rest of them were all good, solid fish. Four of the five were smallmouths; my smallest fish was a largemouth.”
Moody caught his stringer on light line and spinning tackle but says he’s not sure if he can catch that kind of quality each of the tournament’s four days.
“I didn’t go to any of the other places that I had caught fish in during the little bit of practice I got,” Moody said. “I’m not going there tomorrow; I’m saving those for Friday and Saturday. I’m going to find some fresh water tomorrow and see if I can find something similar. Really, what it amounts to is I pulled up to a place and happened to catch them; there really wasn’t a pattern. I’m not really confident that I can do this in that spot again. I’m just going to go fishing.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Joe Bennett of Independence, Mo. (five bass, 14 pounds, 8 ounces); Dick Shaffer of Rockford, Ohio (three bass, 14 pounds, 6 ounces); Leon Tidwell of Muscle Shoals (four bass, 13 pounds, 7 ounces); and William Davis of Russellville (five bass, 13 pounds, 6 ounces).
Shaffer earned $750 Wednesday as the Pro Division big-bass award winner with a 7-pound, 8-ounce bass.
Ernie Hamilton of Prairieville, La., leads the 200-competitor Co-angler Division thanks to a four-bass catch Wednesday that weighed 11 pounds, 10 ounces.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Emmet Barnett of Waldron, Ark. (four bass, 10 pounds, 6 ounces); Chris Perkins of Florence, Ala. (three bass, 10 pounds, 4 ounces); Nathan Tully of Peggs, Okla. (two bass, 9 pounds, 6 ounces); and Brad Wiegmann of Springdale, Ark. (two bass, 7 pounds, 10 ounces).
Tully caught a 5-pound, 12-ounce bass Wednesday to earn $250 as the Co-angler Division big-bass award winner.
Anglers take off each morning at 6 from McFarland Park in Florence. Thursday’s weigh-in will also be held there beginning at 3 p.m., and Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 3100 Hough Road in Florence beginning at 4 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins.
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.
Weights are cleared for Friday’s semifinal round, and the 20 pros and 20 co-anglers who advanced to the semifinal round will compete for one day to determine the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers who will advance to Saturday’s final-round. The 10 final-round competitors will continue competition, with the winner determined by the heaviest two-day weight.
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.