Although Sumpter believes Cumberland’s smallmouths hold the championship’s winning ticket, he weighed in four Kentucky spotted bass and one largemouth Thursday that weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces. While temperatures remained cool the second day of competition, the wind picked up and frustrated quite a few anglers, including Sumpter.
“I don’t need this much wind to catch my big ones,” said Sumpter, an Eastern Division pro who is a former points champion in the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division. “I’m having trouble holding the boat. The wind had a lot to do with (the lower weight) – I couldn’t get my bait down deep enough.”
Despite the tougher bite, Sumpter still caught eight keepers and had a limit by 10:30 a.m. “I just went grinding and caught my limit,” he said. “I didn’t burn half the gas I did yesterday. I needed a calmer wind and a little cloud cover. I can catch a limit of Kentuckys, but I need a calmer wind to catch my big ones.”
Sumpter says he will go for broke in tomorrow’s competition, targeting primarily smallmouths to try and take home his first EverStart Series victory. Pros will compete Friday and Saturday with the winner determined by the heaviest two-day catch weight.
Rounding out the top five pros are Lloyd Pickett Jr. of Bartlett, Tenn. (10 bass, 19 pounds, 7 ounces); Ramie Colson Jr. of Cadiz (eight bass, 19 pounds, 3 ounces); Pedigree pro Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala. (10 bass, 18 pounds, 3 ounces); and Scott Emery of Livonia, Mich. (10 bass, 15 pounds, 6 ounces).
Brian Hensley of Edwardsburg, Mich., earned $625 Thursday as the Pro Division big-bass award winner thanks to a 4-pound, 13-ounce bass.
Co-angler Steve Amata of Payson, Utah, leads the 10 final-round co-anglers thanks to a two-day catch of seven bass weighing 10 pounds, 5 ounces. Amata ranked eighth in Western Division points standings to earn a ticket to the championship.
“I started out throwing a jig and went to a drop-shot later in the day,” said Amata, who has two previous EverStart Series top-10 finishes to his credit. “For us (Westerners), this is great – deep, clear water. I think my techniques will stick fish, but it depends on my pro partners.”
Amata weighed in two largemouths and three spotted bass Thursday. Six of the top 10 co-anglers hail from the Western Division. Co-angler competition concludes Friday, with the winner taking home a fully rigged Ranger boat and $10,000 cash.
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Kirk Beardsley of Huntington Beach, Calif. (five bass, 10 pounds, 1 ounce); Earl Dalton of Jackson, Calif. (three bass, 9 pounds, 13 ounces); Gary Collins of Moorpark, Calif. (five bass, 9 pounds, 11 ounces); and David Lawson of Richmond, Ky. (three bass, 8 pounds, 2 ounces).
Lawson earned co-angler big-bass honors Thursday and $250 with a 4-pound, 15-ounce bass. He zeroed on day one but bounced back on day two to make the top-10 cut.
Collins earned the 2004 EverStart Batteries and Evinrude Outboard Engines Co-angler Award, which is given to the co-angler who amasses the most points over the season by wearing an EverStart/Evinrude shirt and cap on stage. For the win, Collins received a 2004 Evinrude 225HO Direct Injection outboard engine rigged on a Ranger boat that also came equipped with a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart batteries. Collins ended the season ranked No. 1 in the Western Division.
Anglers will take off from General Burnside State Park in Somerset at 8 a.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will take place at the Somerset Wal-Mart store at 5 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.
The EverStart Series is comprised of four divisions – Eastern, Central, Northern and Western – with four regular-season events each. Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points, and the top 40 from the Eastern, Central and Northern divisions and the top 30 from the Western Division based on year-end points standings earned a ticket to 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.
Coverage of the EverStart Series Championship will be broadcast to 65 million subscribers of the Outdoor Life Network on “FLW Outdoors.” The show will air Sunday, Nov. 21 at 1 p.m. EST and again Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 5:30 p.m. EST.
FLW Outdoors is the industry’s premier provider of sport-fishing tournaments, including the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the world’s most lucrative bass-fishing circuit; the EverStart Series, known as the gateway to the FLW Tour; the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League for weekend anglers; the Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail; the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour, the world’s most lucrative walleye-fishing circuit; the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League for weekend anglers; the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, the world’s most lucrative kingfish series; and the Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series. For more information, visit FLWOutdoors.com.