JASPER, Texas – After two days of competition on a swollen Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Jim Carnell stands atop the leaderboard with an opening-round total of 10 bass weighing 33 pounds, 10 ounces. The pro from Muskogee, Okla., will lead 30 of the nation’s top professional bass anglers into Friday’s semifinal round at the $185,000 EverStart Series tournament on the lake.
Carnell caught five bass weighing 17 pounds, 9 ounces Wednesday to finish in second place then turned in five bass weighing 16 pounds, 1 ounce Thursday to finish the opening round on top of the 172-angler Pro Division. Friday the top 30 pros and co-anglers will start from zero and fish for one day to determine the top 10 anglers who will advance to Saturday’s final round for a shot at top awards of $15,000 and a Mercury- or Yamaha-powered Ranger boat in the Pro Division and $6,000 in the Co-Angler Division.
“The lake is up 9 feet, so the fish keep moving,” said Carnell, who caught the majority of his bass by flipping a tubebait and Gene Lerew Hoo-Daddy to wood. “I’m going back and fishing the same area in the south end of the lake to try to catch five more.”
Pro Bob Sealy of Sam Rayburn, Texas, caught 10 bass weighing 29 pounds, 14 ounces over two days to secure the No. 2 spot in Friday’s competition. Rounding out the top five pros were Greg Hackney of Oak Ridge, La., with 10 bass weighing 28 pounds, 12 ounces; Jim Eakins of Nixa, Mo., with 10 bass weighing 28 pounds, 11 ounces; and Derek Fulps of Broken Arrow, Okla., with 10 bass weighing 28 pounds, 9 ounces. Fulps also landed the big bass award of $750 in the Pro Division with an 8-pound, 2-ounce largemouth.
In the 172-person Co-Angler Division, Anthony Cain of Alexandria, La., claimed the top spot with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 22 pounds, 9 ounces.
Finishing in second and third place in the Co-Angler Division were Gale Stearns of Calvert City, Ky., with 10 bass weighing 22 pounds, 3 ounces and Bo Standley of Silsbee, Texas, with nine bass weighing 20 pounds, 2 ounces.
Big bass and $250 in the Co-Angler Division went to Christopher Lemon of Mooresville, Ind., for a 7-pound, 3-ounce largemouth.
A total of 889 bass were caught Thursday including 89 five-bass limits. More than 97 percent of the bass were released alive.
Competition begins at 7 a.m. each day at the public boat launch near Twin Dikes Marina in Jasper. Friday’s weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. at the boat launch, and Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart Supercenter located at 800 West Gibson Road in Jasper at 4 p.m.
The 4-year-old EverStart Series now includes three divisions-Eastern, Central and Northern-with four events each plus a year-end championship. Tournament winners and the top 50 pros and top 50 co-anglers from each division will earn a spot in the championship, which will be held Nov. 7-10 on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala. There, the winning pro will receive a fully-rigged Ranger boat and $25,000. The winning co-angler will receive a fully-rigged Ranger boat and $10,000. More than $2.5 million will be awarded to bass fishing enthusiasts during the 2001 EverStart Series season. The series also provides a pathway to the $4.4 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour-bass fishing’s most lucrative tournament series.