MANNING, S.C. (April 24, 2004) – Stratos pro Ricky Shumpert of Lexington caught a two-day total of 10-bass weighing 38 pounds, 12 ounces to win the $256,825 EverStart Series Eastern Division event on the Santee Cooper lakes near Manning. Shumpert won the event by more than 6 pounds to capture his second EverStart Series title and earn $10,000 plus a fully-rigged Ranger boat. Shumpert’s other EverStart Series victory also came on Santee Cooper in 2001. Amazingly, in the past six EverStart Series tournaments on Santee Cooper, Shumpert has won twice and finished second four times.

Saturday’s conditions were nearly identical to the conditions seen all tournament. The weather has been clear and warm, and a majority of the bass are in the post-spawn mode on Santee Cooper. The most common pattern during the tournament was flipping cypress trees with plastics. Some pros managed to find the occasional bass still on the bed.

“A few bedded fish that I didn’t have time to work on yesterday bit today,” Shumpert said. “I went to one 10-pounder on a bed this morning, and on the first cast, she hit the tube so hard with her mouth closed that it buried the tube 2 inches into the mud. Then she started swimming around and would never lock on the bed again, so I gave up on her. Right next to her was a 5-pounder on the bed. So I threw over to her and my bait started swimming off, but I could see that the 5-pounder didn’t have the bait. So I set the hook and caught one that weighed almost 3 pounds. I culled a few more, and in about 30 minutes, I went from 5 pounds to 20 pounds. I caught a couple other keepers that weren’t on the beds.

“I live about an hour from the lakes, but I really don’t fish them much because I’m traveling so much. Santee Cooper just fits my style.”

Rounding out the top five pros were Tony Couch of Buckhead, Ga. (10 bass, 32 pounds, 1 ounce); Pedigree pro Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala. (10 bass, 31 pounds, 8 ounces); Pedigree pro Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala. (10 bass, 30 pounds, 8 ounces); and Banana Boat pro Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich. (eight bass, 27 pounds, 5 ounces).

Albert Pieper of Summerville won the Co-angler Division thanks to six bass weighing 17 pounds, 5 ounces. Pieper earned $5,000 for the victory in his first EverStart Series tournament.

“I’ve been fishing this lake for 20 years,” Pieper said, “so I know the lake really well. I’ll be sure to fish this event next year.

“I caught all my fish this week on Zoom plastics. I fished a variety of cover – grass, lily pads and stumps. Some of the fish were on the beds and others were post-spawn fish.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers were Edward Adams of Egg Harbor Township, N.J. (seven bass, 15 pounds, 14 ounces); Marty Mixon of Goose Creek (five bass, 13 pounds, 11 ounces); Jason Hampson of Cartersville, Ga. (five bass, 12 pounds); and Mark Cummings of Pembroke, N.C. (three bass, 7 pounds, 8 ounces).

Anglers caught 61 bass Saturday, including 6 five-bass limits.

The full field competed for two days to determine the top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers who advance to Friday’s semifinal round based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for the semifinal round, and anglers compete for one day to determine who advances 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 $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.