Larry Pinder of Port Charlotte, Florida, took first place in the first Eastern Division event of Operation Bass’ EverStart Series, with a catch of 16 pounds, 15 ounces, to capture the $35,000 first prize in the event concluded Saturday on Lake Okeechobee.
Pinder survived two earlier elimination rounds and 150 anglers enroute to the EverStart victory, edging out nine other finalists competing in Saturday’s final round of the professional division. He received $10,000 and a fully-rigged Ranger boat for the victory.
Mark Rogers of Naples, FLorida, took the runner-up spot with a championship round weight of 11 pounds, 14 ounces, good for $10,000.
Rounding out the top 10 in the professional division of the EverStart Series’ Central Division were: (3) Frank Poirier, Hopewell, Virginia, 11 pounds, 6 ounces, $9,000; (4) Jeff Coble, Henderson, North Carolina, 11 pounds, 1 ounce, $8,000; (5) David Walker, Cannon, Kentucky, 10 pounds, 5 ounces, $7,000; (6) Mike Gough, Gainesville, Florida, 9 pounds, 14 ounces, $6,000; (7) Koby Kreiger, Osceola, Indiana, 9 pounds, 12 ounces, $5,000; (8) Ricky Shumpert, Lexington, South Carolina, 4 pounds, 6 ounces, $4,500; (9) Mark Sabbides, Sarasota, Florida, 3 pounds, 14 ounces, $4,000; (10) Arlie Napier, Middlesboro, Kentucky, 2 pounds, 1 ounce, $3,500.
The winner of the co-angler division was Dale Warren of Newton Grove, North Carolina, who had a winning weight of 4 pounds, 10 ounces. Warren collected $5,000 for his co-angler division victory.
Rounding out the top 10 in the co-angler division were: (2) Scott Duncan, Warwick, Rhode Island, 3 pounds, 12 ounces, $2,750; (3) Danny Moore, Henderson, North Carolina, 2 pounds, 7 ounces, $2,250; (4) Fred Hill, Gibsonville, North Carolina, 1 pound, 12 ounces, $2,000; (5) Frank Free, Buford, Georgia, 0 pounds, $1,800; (6) Jordan Dozier, Thomson, Georgia, 0 pounds, $1,600; (7) Tom Tilley, Albany, Georgia, 0 pounds, $1,500; (8) Joseph Rankel, Greenacres, Florida, 0 pounds, $1,400; (9) Tony Kuhnell, Milford, Ohio, 0 pounds, $1,300; (10) Jimmy Fortson, Salisbury, North Carolina, 0 pounds, $1,200.
The win gives Pinder and Warren priority entry into the lucrative Wal-Mart FLW Tour professional bass tournaments in 2000. The total purse for the Lake Okeechobee tournament was $129,100 including a fully-rigged Ranger bass boat.
The EverStart Series consists of eight regular events, four in the Central and four in the Eastern Division, and two EverStart Challenge tournaments. The Challenge events, one per division, feature the same format as the Wal-Mart FLW Tour tournaments. The 150-man pro and co-angler fields will be cut to the top 10 after two days. Co-angler competition is ended at the conclusion of day three, with only the top five pros left to compete on the final day.
The EverStart Series has become a favorite of serious bass anglers. It affords anglers the opportunity to fish for large purses and also gives the top 30 anglers priority entry into the following year’s Wal-Mart FLW Tour. In 1999, the EverStart Series will pay back $97,300 in cash and prizes to the top 30 pros in each regular event, and $215,000 to pros in the EverStart Challenge events. The prize money for the co-angler division will nearly double, increasing to $33,200 per tournament, while still paying back the top 20 percent of the tournament field.
Each of the eight regular EverStart events feature total cash and prizes of $150,000 including an Evinrude-equipped Ranger bass boat. The fifth and final event in both the Central and Eastern Division is the EverStart Challenge, each of which will have a $283,200 purse, including an Evinrude-equipped Ranger boat. Each of the EverStart Challenge events will be filmed for a future television special that will air on ESPN2.
EverStart(TM) batteries are marketed exclusively through Wal-Mart stores. EverStart is the world’s largest recycler of batteries. Sponsors of the EverStart Series bass tournaments include: EverStart Batteries, Chevy Trucks, CITGO Petroleum, Ranger Boats, Evinrude Outboards and Electrics, Black & Decker, Coca-Cola, Coleman, Eveready, Land O’Lakes, Mitchell, SpiderWire, Uniroyal, Wal-Mart, Chex Mix, Hamburger Helper, and Wheaties.