LA CROSSE, Wis. – Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis., landed $50,000 in cash and prizes Saturday for winning the EverStart Series Northern Division opener on the Mississippi River with five bass weighing 12 pounds, 3 ounces.
Monsoor, who has won the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division points title the past two years, survived four days of competition en route to victory in his first EverStart Series tournament. Throughout the tournament, he successfully caught bass using a homemade swimming jig that he worked around reeds and Lilly pads in 3 feet of water or less. He made the semifinal round cut to the top 30 pros Thursday in 15th place with a two-day total of nine bass weighing 18 pounds, 10 ounces and made the final round cut to the top 10 Friday in first place with five bass weighing 12 pounds, 7 ounces. Catch weights were cleared for all competitors at the start of the semifinal and final rounds.
“There is only one word to describe this…unreal,” Monsoor said after winning $15,000 and a Mercury- or Yamaha-powered Ranger boat with GARMIN electronics. “It’s really unbelievable. My goal now is to win the points championship. Anyone can get lucky and win a tournament.”
Second through fifth place in the Pro Division went to Douglas Stanton of Winona, Minn., with five bass weighing 10 pounds, 15 ounces worth $10,000; Darren Zumach of Onalaska, Wis., with five bass weighing 9 pounds, 8 ounces worth $9,000; Chet Reed of Muskegon, Mich., with four bass weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces worth $8,000; and Ronald Cherkas of Des Moines, Iowa, with three bass weighing 6 pounds, 15 ounces worth $7,500.
Ron Fabiszak of South Bend, Ind., claimed first place in the Co-Angler Division and collected $6,000 with five bass weighing 9 pounds, 14 ounces. Richie Eaves of Nauvoo, Ill., finished second in the Co-Angler Division and collected $4,000 with four bass weighing 6 pounds, 3 ounces followed by Michael Smith of Cedar Falls, Iowa, in third with three bass weighing 6 pounds, 2 ounces worth $3,500.
A total of 59 bass were caught Saturday including four five-bass limits. All of the bass were released alive.
The tournament began Wednesday with 330 anglers taking off from Northside Ramp in La Crosse to claim a piece of the event’s $185,000 purse. Lake Ontario near Clayton, N.Y., will be the next Northern Division EverStart Series tournament July 25-28.
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.