LA CROSSE, Wis. – Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis., will lead the 10 man professional field into Saturday’s final round of the first EverStart Series Northern Division tournament being on the Mississippi River with five bass weighing 12 pounds, 7 ounces. The lucrative tournament features a $185,000 purse.
Monsoor, who used weedless jigs of his own design, caught his leading sack of bass, fishing in Lake Onalaska in the morning and then moving down river to Pool 8 near Goose Island, where he landed a 4-pounder that helped propel him to the front of the pack. Three other top 10 anglers are also using Monsoor’s homemade jigs. Monsoor will be competing Saturday against nine other finalists in the Pro Division for a top award of $15,000 and a Mercury- or Yamaha-powered Ranger boat with GARMIN Electronics. GARMIN will also award a $1,000 bonus if the winning angler was using a fixed-mount GARMIN sonar product.
The finalists start on equal footing as weights from previous rounds of competition are erased, with the winner determined by the weight of Saturday’s catch. The original field of 165 pros was whittled to the top 30 Thursday and cut again to the top 10 Friday.
“I expected a tough day today,” said an excited Monsoor. “Due to heavy rains yesterday, my primary spots on the Black River were unproductive due to the muddy water. I had to scramble today, and I got lucky.”
Rounding out the top five pros are Joe Balog of Independence, Ohio, with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 9 ounces; Rick Martin of Harvard, Ill., with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 7 ounces; Danny Engleking, of Brookston, Ill., with four bass weighing 11 pounds, 7 ounces; and Douglas Stanton of Winona, Minn., with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 6 ounces.
Pete Hayes of Liberty, Ky., claimed the top qualifying spot in the Co-Angler Division with 10 pounds, 11 ounces. He survived the semifinal round cut from 165 to 30 co-anglers Thursday in 23rd place with a two-day total weighing 10 pounds, 9 ounces.
Co-Angler Paul Dostal of La Crosse, Wis., qualified in second place with a weight of 9 pounds, 11 ounces followed by Jeff Barth of Marshfield, Wis., with a weight totaling 9 pounds, 5 ounces.
Like their pro counterparts, co-anglers start from zero Saturday and compete for one day to determine the winner. The winning co-angler will receive $6,000.
156 bass were caught Friday including 14 five-bass limits. One hundred percent of the bass were released alive.
Saturday’s action begins at 5:30 a.m. at West Clinton Street Ramp in La Crosse. The final weigh-in begins at 4:00 p.m. at the Wal-Mart Supercenter located at 1210 Crossing Meadows Drive in Onalaska, Wis.
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 presented by Conseco Nov. 7-10 on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala. More than $2.5 million will be awarded during the 2001 EverStart Series season.