Graham leads EverStart Series tournament on Lake Ontario - Major League Fishing

Graham leads EverStart Series tournament on Lake Ontario

July 25, 2001 • MLF • Archives

CLAYTON, N.Y. – Jason Graham of Coleman, Mich., topped more than 290 bass anglers from the United States and Canada Wednesday afternoon with five largemouth bass weighing 20 pounds, 5 ounces following opening day of the $185,000 EverStart Series Northern Division tournament on Lake Ontario.

Graham, who is competing in his second year on the EverStart Series, opted to fish for largemouth in shallow water while the majority of competitors targeted smallmouth bass.

“I’m pretty confident (going into day two),” Graham said. “I don’t think I can catch 20 pounds again. But I can make the cut, and that’s the goal. I only hit three of my spots today, and I have nine more to fish.”

The tournament, which is part of the $2.5 million EverStart Series, features 146 pros and 146 co-anglers searching the waters near Thousand Islands for trophy bass in the hope of winning $15,000 cash and a Mercury- or Yamaha-powered Ranger boat with GARMIN Electronics in the Pro Division and $6,000 in the Co-Angler Division.

Scott Dobson of Waterford, Mich., finished opening day in second place with five bass weighing 18 pounds, 11 ounces. He was followed by David Lauer of South Bend, Ind., (five bass, 18 pounds, 4 ounces) and Dean Meckes of Clayton, N.Y. (five bass, 18 pounds, 2 ounces). Neil Vandebiezen of Portage, Mich., and Mark Zona of Sturgis, Mich., tied for fifth place with five bass weighing 18 pounds.

In the Co-Angler Division, Rick Kazmierczak of Orchard Park, N.Y., leads with five smallmouth bass weighing 17 pounds, 4 ounces followed by Warren Thomas of Lakewood, Wis. (five bass, 17 pounds, 2 ounces), and Jason Knapp of Uniontown, Pa. (five bass, 16 pounds, 14 ounces).

Big bass and $750 in the Pro Division went to Meckes for a 6-pound, bass. Big bass and $250 in the Co-Angler Division went to Ken Garbe of Batavia, Ohio, for a 5-pound, 10-ounce bass.

Anglers in both divisions must secure one of 30 slots available in Friday’s semifinal round by catching the heaviest two-day total of bass in round one. During the semifinal round, anglers start from zero and compete for one day to determine the top 10 pros and top 10 co-anglers who will compete in Saturday’s finale. Catch weights are cleared again for the final day of competition, and the winner of each division is determined by the weight of that day’s catch.

Competition begins at 6 a.m. each morning at French Creek Marina in Clayton. Weigh-ins Thursday and Friday will also be held at the marina starting at 3 p.m. each day. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Arsenal Street in Watertown, N.Y., 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 presented by Conseco. 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.

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 $4.45 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour-bass fishing’s most lucrative tournament series. Top EverStart competitors may also qualify for the Ranger M1 tournament in Mobile, Ala., Feb. 27-March 2, 2002, where they can win up to $1 million in the world’s richest freshwater tournament.

Sponsors of the EverStart Series are ALPO Pet Foods, BFGoodrich Tires, Black and Decker, Chevy Trucks, CITGO, Coleman, Conseco, Energizer, EverStart Batteries, Frito-Lay, Fujifilm, Garmin, Kellogg’s, Land O’Lakes, Mercury Marine, Minn Kota, Pepsi, Plano Tackle Systems, Poulan, Ranger Boats, Shop-Vac, Snickers Cruncher Bar, Timex, US Bank, Visa, Wal-Mart, Weed Eater, Wrangler and Yamaha Outboards.

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