Twenty pro anglers qualified for Friday’s semifinal round from an original field of 200 opening-round competitors. The top 10 anglers from Friday’s competition will continue fishing tomorrow for the top prize. Two hundred co-anglers also kicked off the event Wednesday, with the top 20 advancing to the semifinal round and the top 10 fishing tomorrow for a top co-angler award worth as much as $35,000 in cash and prizes.
Anglers had the run of the Detroit River as well as lakes Erie and St. Clair, with most of the competitors heading south to Lake Erie in search of quality bites. Quality of bites vs. quantity of bites has been the dock talk of the week, with finicky bass making five-fish limits tough to come by on Lake Erie.
“I’ve been fishing Erie because I know it a lot better, and generally you catch bigger fish out there,” said Shaffer, the 2003 EverStart Series Championship winner. “I have no idea why the bite is this slow; it just doesn’t seem like you can pull up on one spot and catch them – you’ve got to move around a lot. Today we caught about a dozen fish in one spot, which is the best I’ve done all week.”
Shaffer, who has been catching his bass around rock piles on tubes in a variety of colors, had been making a 100-mile run but shortened it Friday to milk a different, closer spot. “I’ve got some more spots; it’s just a question of if I can get to them and if the fish are still there,” he said.
Rounding out the top five pros are Warren Wyman of Calera, Ala. (five bass, 19 pounds, 2 ounces); Jim Liechty of Fort Wayne, Ind. (five bass, 18 pounds, 13 ounces); Patrick Goodman of White Pigeon (five bass, 17 pounds, 12 ounces); and Steve Clapper of Lima, Ohio (five bass, 17 pounds, 8 ounces).
Trevor Jancasz of White Pigeon leads the co-angler contingency thanks to a limit of five bass Friday that weighed 16 pounds, 6 ounces. His partner Friday was Kellogg’s pro Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa.
“It was a great day,” said Jancasz, the reigning co-angler points champion in the EverStart Series Northern Division. “It was a rough boat ride going out and coming back, but (Lefebre) is a great boat driver, and we caught quite a few fish. There were probably 4- to 5-foot waves, easy. The waves were coming over the side of the boat when we were drifting; it was kind of crazy.”
Jancasz caught most of his bass on a Bite Me tube with a jig. He was dragging the tube in 20 to 24 feet of water. He has four career top-10 finishes on the EverStart Series and is looking for his first win.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Brian Comer of Springfield, Ohio (five bass, 12 pounds, 15 ounces); Scot Keefe of Hinesburg, Vt. (three bass, 11 pounds, 11 ounces); Todd Robbins of Romulus (three bass, 10 pounds, 10 ounces); and Daniel Peterman of Falls Creek, Pa. (two bass, 8 pounds, 2 ounces).
Elizabeth Park in Trenton (located at 200 Grosse Ile Parkway) will host the final takeoff at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. The winners will be crowned at the final weigh-in, which begins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Wal-Mart store located at 7555 Telegraph Road in Taylor. The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins.
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.
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.
For more information on the EverStart Series or any of FLW Outdoors’ six tournament trails, visit FLWOutdoors.com.