Anglers competing in the Pro Division will fish for a top award worth as much as $60,000 while co-angler competitors cast for a top award worth as much as $35,000. Competitors will also be vying for valuable points that could earn them a berth into the $1 million EverStart Series Championship in Florence, Ala., for a shot at $140,000 in the Pro Division and $70,000 in the Co-angler Division.
Kentucky Lake spans 184 miles, and the damming of the Tennessee River forms the largest manmade lake in the eastern United States. The great thing about the lake is that it’s connected to another great lake – Barkley Lake – complete with its own distinct features. While it’s a foregone conclusion that the tournament will be won cranking and jigging the ledges, the tournament can be won in other ways.
A large number of touring pros list Kentucky Lake as one of their favorite lakes in the nation. With opportunities to catch 8-pound largemouth and 6-pound smallmouth, what’s not to like about Kentucky Lake. Local pro Drew Lynch of Paducah, Ky., recently won a Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League tournament on the lake and placed seventh in the EverStart Series Central Division event last year.
"This lake is awesome because it suits so many styles of fishing," he said. "If a guy is a shallow water fisherman he can get way back in the coves and bays and flip wood and buckbrush. If you want to, you can specifically target largemouth or smallmouth. You can fish ledges or points. It just has it all." Last year it took over 30 pounds to make the cut and over 34 pounds to win. Look for the weights to be up slightly in this year’s event.
Anglers will take off from Moors Resort and Marina at 7 each morning. Wednesday and Thursday’s weigh-ins will also be held at the marina, which is located at 570 Moors Road in Gilbertsville, beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 310 West 5th Street in Benton beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
Two hundred pros and 200 co-anglers will compete for two days to determine the top 10 pros and top 10 co-anglers who advance to the final round based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for the final round, and anglers compete for two more days to determine the winner. Winners are determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.
The winning pro earns an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger 519 VX equipped with Garmin electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart batteries plus $10,000 cash. If the winner is the original owner of a Ranger boat that is used during the tournament, the winner also receives a $10,000 bonus from Ranger for a top pro award of $60,000. If the winning pro is a Ranger Cup participant, 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, thus boosting potential winnings for the top pro to $65,500.
The winning co-angler receives $5,000 cash, and if the winner is a Ranger boat owner, Ranger will award a new Ranger 519 VX 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 also 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 an Evinrude 225HO Direct Injection outboard engine rigged on a Ranger boat equipped with a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart batteries.
In EverStart Series competition pros supply the boats, fish from the front deck against other pros and control 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. The top 40 pros and top 40 co-anglers from each of the EverStart Series’ five divisions – Central, Northeast, Northern, Southeast and Western – will advance to the $1 million EverStart Series Championship on Pickwick Lake Nov. 2-5. The top 10 pros and top 10 co-anglers from each division also qualify for the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the world’s most lucrative tournament series, where they can compete for a share of $7.6 million in 2006.
Each EverStart Series Division features four regular-season tournaments.