PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (Sept. 24, 2004) – Ten anglers remain at the final EverStart Series Northern Division event of the season, taking place this week on New York’s Lake Champlain, and Art Ferguson of St. Clair Shores, Mich., leads the list of pros who will compete Saturday for a top pro award of as much as $61,900 thanks to a five-bass catch Friday that weighed 17 pounds, 11 ounces. The four-day, $256,825 tournament is presented by Schick Quattro and hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and I Love New York.

After Thursday’s competition, Ferguson claimed he did not have a definite pattern figured out, and he says he still doesn’t, but what he managed to do was give himself nearly a 2-pound lead heading into the final round. Lake Champlain has been good to Ferguson in the past, however, as he finished fourth at last year’s EverStart Series event on the prolific New York fishery.

“I did the same basic thing, but I had to expand,” Ferguson said. “I expanded a half mile in one little area that I’m fishing. It ended up that my partner (today’s co-angler leader) keyed me onto a way to catch my fish, so that really helped me. I wound up catching two of my better fish on the style of fishing he told me to do.”

When Ferguson returned to the spot holding the school of fish that gave him the opening-round lead, he found the fish were scattered and no longer schooled. “I had to move around,” he said. “I caught eight keepers today and just got the right bites. I’m catching them on three different baits, and one of them is a Yamamoto Senko. I’m also using Berkley Vanish line – that Vanish with the low stretch is really helping me feel these fish and stay in contact with the fish, and that helps when you’re talking about fish of this size. I didn’t realize how big they were. I thought I had 15 pounds coming into the weigh-in.

“If you’re going to come into the final day of an EverStart, you want to have a 2-pound lead. Everybody’s bunched up in that 15-pound range. I’m not going to relax, but it eases some of the pressure.”

Rounding out the top five pros are Mark Zona of Sturgis, Mich. (five bass, 15 pounds, 13 ounces); Scott Dobson of Waterford, Mich. (five bass, 15 pounds, 11 ounces); Yamaha pro Terry Baksay of Monroe, Conn. (five bass, 15 pounds, 11 ounces); and Craig Workman of Fort Worth, Texas (five bass, 15 pounds, 9 ounces).

Kenneth Witter of Pine Valley will enter Saturday’s competition as the No. 1 co-angler, thanks to his catch Friday of five bass weighing 16 pounds. Witter also led the Co-angler Division after Thursday’s conclusion of the opening round and fished with Ferguson on Friday. He will fish with him again Saturday.

“I did things a little bit differently than I did yesterday,” Witter said. “You just have to adapt to that water. Art was a great partner today; we worked good together. I’ve got just enough to make it, so hopefully we’ll have the same kind of day tomorrow that we did today.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Brad Taylor of Catlettsburg (five bass, 15 pounds, 6 ounces); Chuck Willis of Dayton, Ohio (five bass, 15 pounds, 5 ounces); Rob McMurray of Troy, Mich. (five bass, 15 pounds, 2 ounces); and Mark Grahn of Wautoma, Wis. (four bass, 12 pounds, 3 ounces).

Mooney Bay Marina in Plattsburgh will host the final takeoff at 7 a.m. Saturday. The final-round weigh-in will take place at the Wal-Mart store located at 25 Consumer Square in Plattsburgh beginning at 4 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend the takeoff and weigh-in.

The tournament began Wednesday with 192 pros and 192 co-anglers competing for one of 20 slots in Friday’s semifinal round. Weights were cleared for the semifinal round, and the top 10 from Friday’s competition will fish Saturday for the win.

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. For more information about visiting New York, log on to ILoveNY.com.