Anglers contended again with the north wind on Lake Erie that made catching a limit during Saturday’s final round quite difficult. This was evident with only six five-bass limits caught on Saturday. The final day of competition proved exciting as Vatalaro won the tournament by a margin of 7 pounds, 9 ounces.
“This is unbelievable,” said Vatalaro, whose last EverStart Series win was Lake Erie in 2001. “I lost two fish early this morning and I thought it might be impossible for me to win for a second time. But at the end of the day I knew I was sitting in a good position to win.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Robert Sherry of Saint Charles, Ill. (five bass, 15 pounds, 13 ounces, $10,000); Scott Dobson of Waterford, Mich. (four bass, 15 pounds, 5 ounces, $9,000); Jim Liechty of Fort Wayne, Ind. (five bass, 12 pounds, 4 ounces, $8,000); and Dan Mansky of Youngstown (four bass, 7 pounds, 4 ounces, $7,500).
Sherry also earned a $1,500 bonus from Ranger boats for his participation in the Ranger Cup incentive program.
Bub Cooksey of Newark claimed victory, $5,000 cash in the Co-angler Division with a five-bass catching weighing 17 pounds, 8 ounces. He used a tube bait in 14-15 feet of water to claim the title.
“You have to be a very versatile to fish as a co-angler,” said Cooksey, who was in 10th place going into the final round. “I was very fortunate to draw some great pro partners during this tournament. I still cannot believe that I won.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Fred Williams of Dry Ridge, Ky. (five bass, 16 pounds, 12 ounces, $4,000); Chuck Willis of Kettering (five bass, 13 pounds, 2 ounces, $3,500); Trevor Jancasz of White Pigeon, Mich. (four bass, 13 pounds, $2,500); and Mark McNeil of Ledyard, Ct. (three bass, 9 pounds, 2 ounces, $2,000).
Fifty-four bass were caught Saturday, 100 percent of the bass were released alive.
A full field of 179 pros and 179 co-anglers took off from Dempsey State Access ramp in Marblehead Wednesday to kick off the $239,325 event. The field was cut from 179 to 20 anglers in each division following Thursday’s competition. Weights were cleared for Friday’s semifinal round, and the top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers competed for one of 10 slots in Saturday’s final round. Weights were again cleared for Saturday’s competition, and the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers competed for the tournament’s top awards.
Four divisions – Eastern, Central, Northern and Western – comprise the $3.88 million EverStart Series. Each division stages four regular-season tournaments leading up to the no-entry-fee $335,975 EverStart Series Championship, which will be held on Old Hickory Lake near Gallatin, Tenn., Oct. 29-Nov. 1.
In EverStart Series competition, pros supply the boats, control boat movement and fish from the front of each boat against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back of each boat and compete against other co-anglers.
FLW Outdoors, the world’s leading marketer of competitive fishing, administers the EverStart Series. Other FLW Outdoors-sanctioned tournament trails include the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, the Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour and the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League. FLW Outdoors will award as much as $20 million through 175 tournaments in 2003.
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. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit FLWOutdoors.com.