June 10, 2004

Ritter Leas Opening Round of $256,825 EverStart Series Event on Mississippi River

RED WING, Minn. (June 10, 2004) - Pro Jeff Ritter of Prairie du Chien, Wis., caught a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 23 pounds, 9 ounces to lead the first round of the $256,825 EverStart Series Northern Division event presented by Schick Quattro on the Mississippi River near Red Wing. The winning pro can earn as much as $61,900 in cash and prizes this week, while the co-angler winner could take home up to $35,000 in cash and prizes.

After a month of excessive rainfall, parts of the Red Wing region received another 4 inches of precipitation on day one. Anglers fished through drenching rains most of the day Wednesday. Rain showed up once again Thursday afternoon but was not as widespread and heavy. The Mississippi River is high with a lot of current and most areas are very stained. "The water has come up a little," Ritter said, "and the bite was off just a bit, but I was still able to catch fish. I caught them the exact way I caught them yesterday. I threw a buzzbait a little and then went to a jig.

"The area I'm fishing is a flooded island with water about 2 feet deep and green grass sticking up above the surface. And I'm covering a lot of water. I think the area will hold up all week because I don't have any competition there."

Rounding out the top five pros are Jason Leuenberger of La Crosse, Wis. (nine bass, 23 pounds, 3 ounces); Chris Novak of Willington, Conn. (nine bass, 22 pounds, 11 ounces); Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn. (10 bass, 21 pounds, 14 ounces); and Aaron LaRocque of Wabasha (nine bass, 21 pounds, 11 ounces).

David Ashley of Markleville, Ind., maintained his lead in the Co-angler Division thanks to a two-day total of seven bass weighing 15 pounds, 7 ounce.

"I'm on a role," Ashley joked. "I caught two today, but the weight I had yesterday really helped. Yesterday I ran 45 miles south, and today I ran 25 miles north up the St. Croix River. I've seen every acre of this place. When I caught all my fish yesterday, we were fishing shallow with a Fluke. Today we were in 15 feet of clear water fishing big rocks with a jig.

"I'm fishing with Ritter tomorrow, so I'm thrilled I'll be fishing shallow water again."

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Rob McMurray of Troy, Mich. (seven bass, 13 pounds, 14 ounces); Peter Cherkas of Des Moines, Iowa (seven bass, 13 pounds, 4 ounces); Louis Woods of Winneconne, Wis. (five bass, 12 pounds, 6 ounces); and Troy Sprague of Lincoln, Neb. (five bass, 12 pounds).

Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo., earned $750 as the big-bass award winner in the Pro Division, thanks to an 4-pound, 81-ounce bass. Loren Berg of East Bethel, Minn., claimed co-angler big-bass honors with a 3-pound, 11-ounce bass that earned him $250.

Anglers will take off at 6 each morning from Treasure Island Resort and Casino, located at 5734 Sturgeon Lake Road in Welch. Friday and Saturday's weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 295 Tyler Road S. in Red Wing beginning at 3:30 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins.

The full field competed for two days to determine the top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers who advanced to Friday's semifinal round based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights were cleared for the semifinal round, and anglers compete for one day to determine who will advance 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 $3.88 million 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 presented by Energizer, 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. Northern Division anglers who finish in the top 40 in the final points standings are eligible to compete in the championship.

The second Northern Division tournament will be held July 21-24 on the Detroit River near Trenton, Mich., followed by a stop on Lake Erin near Buffalo, N.Y., August 25-28. Regular-season competition concludes September 22-25 on Lake Champlain near Plattsburgh, N.Y.

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. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit FLWOutdoors.com.

+For more infomation, clickwww.FLW Outdoors.com.

Posted by DODGE at June 10, 2004 04:41 PM in Tournament (FLW)