CLEARLAKE, Calif. (April 17, 2004) – EverStart Series rookie Brian Nixon, 22, of Grand Junction, Colo., scored his first EverStart Series victory in dominating fashion Saturday with a 9-pound, 1-ounce margin of victory on California’s Clear Lake. For the win, Nixon claimed $8,500 cash plus an Evinrude-powered Ranger 519 VS equipped with Garmin electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart Batteries. His two-day total of 10 bass weighing 44 pounds edged him past runner-up Art Berry of Hemet.

Nixon – whose previous-best EverStart Series showing was a 40th-place effort at the Western Division season opener on Lake Pleasant in January – milked the same spot over the duration of the tournament to claim his winning catch, but he was not alone. He anchored his boat approximately 3 feet from fellow pro Sean Minderman of Post Falls, Idaho, and the two amicably reaped the rewards of the honeyhole during the event’s semifinal and final rounds. Minderman ultimately finished the tournament in 10th place.

“The spot I fished the last two days is an area that’s probably 80 feet by 80 feet, and Sean and I were both in there,” said Nixon, who caught his tournament-winning bass on a Lucky Craft ripbait, a spinnerbait and a Pepper Jig. “I had these fish in practice but I didn’t realize how good (the area) was until the second day of the tournament, when I went in there and loaded the boat with 3-pounders. Yesterday Sean was sitting there and we fished for about five minutes, and I thought, ‘Oh, this is not good.’ He said, ‘What do you want to do?’ I said, ‘The fish are just moving up and down this bank; we can just share it,’ and he said, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ He tied his boat against the dock, and I anchored out in the middle.”

Nixon didn’t exactly cruise to victory – to take home the crown, he had to overcome not one but two dead batteries on two different boats. “My boat wouldn’t start this morning; my cranking battery never got charged,” Nixon said. He then borrowed a friend’s rig only to have the same thing happen several hours later, but he thinks he’s found a solution: “We will have EverStart batteries from now on!”

Rounding out the top five pros are Berry (10 bass, 34 pounds, 15 ounces, $8,000); Jared Lintner of Oceano (10 bass, 34 pounds, 12 ounces, $7,000); Brent Ehrler of Redlands (10 bass, 31 pounds, 7 ounces, $6,000); and David Gliebe of Stockton (10 bass, 29 pounds, 3 ounces, $5,500).

Berry earned $1,500 from Ranger Boats as the highest-finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program.

Brian Mlekush of Rancho Cucamonga earned $4,500 cash as winner of the Co-angler Division, and because he is a Ranger boat owner, Ranger Boats awarded him a new Ranger 519 VS for a total prize package worth $34,500. Mlekush earned the top prize with a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 31 pounds, 11 ounces.

“It was a slower bite today,” said Mlekush, who fished from the back of Nixon’s boat the past two days. “Once every hour there would be a quick bite for five or 10 minutes, and then it would shut down for an hour or two. I threw drop-shot baits, 4-inch worms and spinnerbaits, and we just kept plugging away. This just feels so amazing. My wife is here, and it was our three-year anniversary this week. It’s just an unbelievable feeling; I’m speechless.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Dan Powers of Weaverville (10 bass, 30 pounds, 10 ounces, $3,000); John Morla of Ione (10 bass, 27 pounds, 1 ounce, $2,250); John Alimpic of Angwin (10 bass, 26 pounds, 11 ounces, $1,900); and Pat Wilson of Petaluma (10 bass, 24 pounds, 14 ounces, $1,700).

The tournament, which was presented by Evinrude, began Wednesday from Redbud Park in Clearlake, as 152 pros and 152 co-anglers competed for two days for one of 20 semifinal-round slots in both divisions. The 20 pros and 20 co-anglers started at zero Friday and fished for one of 10 slots in both divisions for Saturday’s competition. Friday’s weights carried over, with the winners determined by the heaviest two-day weights.

The winning pro at Western Division events is guaranteed $8,500 cash plus a fully rigged Ranger 519 VS 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 final regular-season Western Division event will take place on the California Delta near Oakley 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.