CLEARLAKE, Calif. (April 16, 2004) – Pro Brian Nixon of Grand Junction, Colo., caught five bass Friday that weighed 24 pounds, 14 ounces to hold a 2-pound, 1-ounce advantage heading into the final day of the $214,525 EverStart Series event on Clear Lake presented by Evinrude. Nixon was one of 20 pros who earned a slot in Friday’s competition based on his two-day accumulated weight during the opening round, and he leads the list of 10 anglers who will compete again Saturday for the top pro award worth as much as $60,400 in cash and prizes.

The cooler temperatures and partly cloudy skies that have dominated the Clear Lake area during the event continued Friday, but Nixon is hoping for more of the same Saturday to aid his dock-fishing pattern. Nixon leads the tournament in only his third career EverStart Series event.

“I’m ripping and throwing a jig,” Wilson said. “I caught two that were probably 6 or 7 pounds. I’ve got this one little area that seems to be contributing bigger fish, and they’re moving up and down. Yesterday I just waited around till they pulled up, and that’s what I did today, and that’s what I’ll do again. They’re suspended around docks, and I’ve just been dead-sticking the jig right around the pole and they’ll eat it. I just happened to get those good bites.”

The good bites seem to be plentiful around Wilson’s honeyhole. “I saw probably 50 fish that were 4 to 8 pounds and two over 10 in this area during practice,” he said. “I think it’ll help if the weather stays like this. If it’ll stay cloudy, it’ll happen. I get to go fishing tomorrow; that’s all that matters.”

Rounding out the top five pros are Jared Lintner of Oceano (five bass, 22 pounds, 13 ounces); David Gliebe of Stockton (five bass, 19 pounds, 4 ounces); Art Berry of Hemet (five bass, 18 pounds, 10 ounces); and Brent Ehrler of Redlands (five bass, 17 pounds, 6 ounces).

Brian Mlekush of Rancho Cucamonga leads the 10 co-anglers who advanced to Saturday’s competition with a five-bass catch Friday that weighed 21 pounds, 11 ounces. He and his fellow final-round co-anglers are in the hunt for a top award worth as much as $34,500 in cash and prizes.

“I’m just drop-shotting a 6-inch worm, a 4-inch worm – a little bit of everything,” said Mlekush, who led Wednesday’s competition as well. “Basically today, the fish were on baitfish, and that’s what we were focusing on. There’s a little cut that we fished all day long, and the fish were pushed up there chasing baitfish around. I fished with Sean Minderman, who’s the best pro a co-angler could fish with.” Mlekush caught exactly nine pounds more than Minderman, who sits in the No. 9 spot on the pro side with 12 pounds, 11 ounces.

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Dan Powers of Weaverville (five bass, 20 pounds, 3 ounces); Gayle Janes of Palm Desert (five bass, 19 pounds, 5 ounces); John Morla of Ione (five bass, 14 pounds, 14 ounces); and Pat Wilson of Petaluma (five bass, 14 pounds, 1 ounce).

Redbud Park in Clearlake will host the final takeoff at 7 a.m. Saturday. The final-round weigh-in will be held Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Wal-Mart store located 15960 Dam Road in Clearlake. The community is encouraged to attend the takeoff and weigh-in.

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 will advance 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, 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.

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.