BUFFALO, N.Y. (Aug. 28, 2004) – Pro angler Joseph Pappas of Southgate, Mich., turned his semifinal-round lead into his first career EverStart Series victory Saturday at the EverStart Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Pappas’ two-day total of 10 bass weighed 39 pounds, 13 ounces and gave him a 6-pound, 2-ounce margin of victory over runner-up Thomas Lavictoire of West Rutland, Vt. For the win, Pappas collected $10,000 cash plus an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger boat, and because he is the original owner of a Ranger boat, he also earned another $10,000 cash from Ranger Boats. Ranger also awarded him $3,000 cash as the highest-finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program, and Garmin awarded him $1,000 for using only Garmin electronics during the event, making his victory worth $65,900. Waves that rocked competitor’s boats during the week turned into calm, flat water for most of Saturday’s competition, but in order for the fish in his hot spot to turn on, Pappas needed a weather change. Patiently waiting until the water began to ripple, Pappas then milked his honeyhole for 19 pounds, 14 ounces of bass – including one 6-pound-plus smallmouth. “After I caught that 6-pounder I felt pretty good about the situation,” said Pappas, who is in his fourth season of EverStart Series competition. “It was actually tough for me in the morning because it was pretty calm out there. The wind finally started picking up a little bit around 11 o’clock so there was a little bit of ripple on the water, and after that I went back to the area where I had been catching my big fish. I didn’t really need a whole lot – just a little bit of ripple on the water. I love it when a plan works out; it rarely happens that way.”

Pappas caught his fish all week on tubes and drop-shots, using darker colors in cloudy weather and lighter colors in sunny conditions. His primary pattern was fishing areas with a bottom mix of chunk rock and sand. “It was not a really obvious area, and that’s what I keyed in on, and it worked out,” he said. “After I got my limit I actually went out a little bit deeper because I knew the bigger fish were out there. I needed to get a few more sizable fish in the livewell, so I concentrated between 38 and 44 feet.” His primary lure color was dark green with gold flake.

Rounding out the top five pros are Lavictoire (10 bass, 33 pounds, 11 ounces, $10,000); Jeffrey Thomas of Broadway, N.C. (10 bass, 32 pounds, 9 ounces, $9,000); Brad Brodnicki of Amherst (10 bass, 31 pounds, 14 ounces, $8,000); and Joe Balog of Harrison Township, Mich. (10 bass, 31 pounds, 8 ounces, $7,500).

Lou Zahra of Warrensburg bounced from eighth place in the semifinals to win the Co-angler Division and $5,000 cash. Zahra’s two-day total of 10 bass weighed 29 pounds, 8 ounces.

“I fished with Mike Desforges, and as it ended up, his fish weren’t kicking his tube really well, so we ended up using my baits all day long,” said Zahra, who was competing in his first career EverStart Series event. “I had my limit by 10:30 a.m. and he only had one, so I said, ‘Hey, you might want to use some of these; they’re pretty hot.’ I was using a 4-inch finesse worm on a drop-shot. It was a perch color – luminescent and really natural-looking. This is an unbelievable fishery. It’s tough to get on it sometimes, but when you get out there, the fish are there.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Jeff Harris of Grand Blanc, Mich. (10 bass, 28 pounds, 11 ounces, $4,000); Andrew Bray of Clinton Township, Mich. (10 bass, 28 pounds, 8 ounces, $3,500); James Richardson Jr. of Cincinnati (10 bass, 28 pounds, 3 ounces, $2,500); and Mike Kozell of Depew (nine bass, 25 pounds, 15 ounces, $2,000).

The tournament kicked off Wednesday from NFTA Boat Harbor in Buffalo as 184 pros and 184 co-anglers competed for two days for one of 20 semifinal-round slots in both divisions. Weights were cleared for Friday’s competition, and the 20 anglers competed for one day for one of 10 final-round positions. Weights carried over for Saturday’s final round, with the winners determined by the heaviest two-day weights.

The tournament, which was presented by Schick Quattro, is the third of four regular-season events in the Northern Division, which will next visit Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh Sept. 22-25.

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. Northern Division anglers who finish in the top 40 in the final points standings are eligible to compete in the championship.

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.

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.