Pack led Thursday’s competition and continued his hot streak Friday on the challenging Pickwick playing field thanks to his shell-bed pattern that he has been fishing on Wilson Lake. His good fortune was almost spoiled, however, when his motor quit as he was locking back through to return to weigh-in. The only other competitor fishing anywhere close to Pack was third-place contender Joe Bennett of Independence, Mo., who was kind enough to give Pack and his co-angler a ride back.
“I have never broken down in a tournament, but as soon as I leave here I’ve got to go get my boat through two locks,” said Pack, who is catching his bass on a Lake Fork creature bait. “I think I blew a fuse in the motor. It was pretty unusual; I was sweating when I hit that start button and it wouldn’t go.”
Pack caught his limit Friday by noon and spent the rest of the time scouting similar areas that he hopes will bring him his first EverStart Series win. “I did exactly the same thing today that I did yesterday; I just covered a little more water and found some new key areas in the same general area that I had kind of looked over yesterday,” Pack said. “Tomorrow will be more of the same; I’ll try some of the same areas I was in and expand on the same pattern in those areas.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky. (five bass, 12 pounds, 15 ounces); Joe Bennett of Independence, Mo. (five bass, 12 pounds, 1 ounce); Larry Sisk of Evansville, Ind. (five bass, 10 pounds, 13 ounces); and Mark Richards of Houston, Texas (two bass, 9 pounds, 3 ounces).
Ronald Aikin of Valley Station, Ky., took the co-angler lead Friday thanks to two bass that weighed 4 pounds, 14 ounces. He caught his tournament-leading bass on a crankbait.
“It’s tough,” said Aikin of the challenging Pickwick conditions. “I think the water fluctuating has made it tough, plus there’s just a lot of pressure. I’m fishing with (Pack) tomorrow, and he’s doing something totally different than I did today, but it’s my style of fishing – Carolina-rigging.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Bill Rogers of Jasper, Texas (two bass, 4 pounds, 1 ounce); John Capitani of Pleasant Hill, Iowa (one bass, 3 pounds, 12 ounces); Dennis Evans of Florence (one bass, 3 pounds, 10 ounces); and Chris Gist of Rogersville (one bass, 2 pounds, 9 ounces).
McFarland Park in Florence will host the final takeoff at 6 a.m. Saturday. The winners will be crowned at the final-round weigh-in, set for 4 p.m. at the Wal-Mart store located at 3100 Hough Road in Florence. The community is encouraged to attend the takeoff and weigh-in.
The tournament began Wednesday with a full field of 200 pros and 200 co-anglers who competed for two days to determine the semifinal-round field of 20 pros and 20 co-anglers, with positions determined by the heaviest two-day weight. Weights were cleared for Friday’s competition.
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.
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.