OAKLEY, Calif. (May 7, 2004) – Local pro Mike Saso of Elk Grove caught a five-bass limit Friday weighing 22 pounds, 3 ounces to lead the semifinal round of the $208,605 EverStart Series Western Division event on the California Delta near Oakley. The top 10 pros and co-anglers advance to fish Saturday’s final round where the winning pro could win as much as $59,900 in cash and prizes.

Saso used to be a regular on the California Delta until his son started competing in Motocross two years ago. Saso then traveled with his son around the country. Then last year, his son suffered an injury that temporarily kept him out of competition. Saso then had a little time to start bass fishing again. He may want to consider bass fishing more in the future. With a 5-pound lead over the nearest competitor, Saso is in good shape to capture his first EverStart Series title in his first attempt.

“This is my first FLW Outdoors tournament,” Saso said. “It’s been really great. I’ve really enjoyed myself.

“I’ve been flipping everything this week. I’ve got three flippin’ sticks on the deck of my boat, and I’ve just been rotating through them each day. I’m catching bedding fish, although I can’t see them. I’m catching them in holes in the grass, which are the beds. All these fish have been caught in about 4 feet of water, and I’ve caught more at the bottom of the low tide.”

Rounding out the top five pros are Gary Howell of Stockton (five bass, 16 pounds, 15 ounces); Jason Cordiale of Orinda (five bass, 15 pounds, 5 ounces); Clifford Perch of Payson, Ariz. (five bass, 15 pounds, 8 ounces); and Mike Folkestad of Yorba Linda (five bass, 14 pounds, 12 ounces).

This week’s most consistent co-angler, Reese Randall of Payson, Ariz., jumped from second place to take the lead in the Co-angler Division thanks to five bass weighing 17 pounds, 10 ounces – the second heaviest weight of the day among either division. Randall’s heavy limit from the back of the boat gives him an impressive 5-pound lead going into the final round.

“I’ve had three different pros each day, and each one did something completely different,” Randall said. “I just had to adapt to the conditions. Today we fished main-lake grass flats in about 4 to 7 feet of water. The tides really made a difference for us today. Being from Arizona, I’m not used to fishing tides. So I’ve had to learn a lot from my partners this week. My partner today was Bernie Gaunt (round one leader).”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Pat Wilson of Petaluma (five bass, 12 pounds, 9 ounces); Roger Mezenen of North Ogden, Utah (four bass, 12 pounds); Matt Lowery of El Cajon (four bass, 9 pounds, 15 ounces); and Kyle Clement of Anderson (five bass, 8 pounds, 10 ounces).

Anglers caught 170 bass Friday, including 26 five-bass limits, that weighed 383 pounds, 6 ounces. More than 99 percent of the bass were weighed alive.

Big Break Marina in Oakley will host daily takeoff Saturday morning at 6. Saturday’s weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 4893 Lone Tree Way in Antioch beginning at 4 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend the takeoff and weigh-in.

The 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 $8,000 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 $59,900. 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 $4,200 cash based on a 145-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 $34,200. 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.