DETROIT – Koby Kreiger of Osceola, Ind., will lead 30 of the nation’s top professional bass anglers into Friday’s semifinal round of the $185,000 EverStart Series Northern Division tournament on Lake Erie after catching a two-day total of 10 smallmouth bass weighing 37 pounds, 15 ounces.
“Wednesday it was me and only me in that spot for about five hours. On Thursday, there were seven other boats fishing the same area,” said the former Indiana State University place-kicker who has already racked up four EverStart Series top-10 finishes this season. “I feel like I can catch five fish there again and make the top 10. It may take me all day, but I think I can bring in between 15 and 20 pounds.”
Kreiger landed five bass weighing 19 pounds, 9 ounces Wednesday to take the lead in the 142-angler Pro Division then turned in five bass weighing 18 pounds, 6 ounces Thursday to retain it. He caught his bass both days in the Detroit River not far from the launch site at Elizabeth Park using a Bandit crankbait and tube.
On Friday, Kreiger will start from zero as one of the top 30 pros and co-anglers fishing for one day in hopes of advancing to Saturday’s final round. Only the top 10 anglers in each division will advance to the final round for a shot at top awards of $15,000 cash and a Yamaha- or Mercury-powered Ranger boat with Minn Kota trolling motor in the Pro Division and $6,000 cash in the Co-angler Division.
Pro Jim Liechty of Fort Wayne, Ind., caught 10 bass weighing 32 pounds, 8 ounces over two days to secure the No. 2 spot in Friday’s competition. Rounding out the top five pros were David Reault of Livonia, Mich., with 10 bass weighing 31 pounds, 13 ounces; Randy Ramsey of Battle Creek, Mich., with 10 bass weighing 30 pounds, 8 ounces; and Richard Grosse of Hebron, Ohio, with 10 bass weighing 27 pounds, 15 ounces.
In the 141-person Co-angler Division, Miles Johnson of Beaver Creek, Ohio, claimed the top spot with a two-day total of eight bass weighing 25 pounds, 8 ounces. He caught the majority of his bass Thursday by dragging a tubebait in Lake Erie.
Finishing in second and third place in the Co-angler Division were Mervin Berry of Anderson, Ind., with six bass weighing 24 pounds, 7 ounces and Carlo Anzivino of Scorborough, Ontario, with nine bass weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces. Berry turned in the largest stringer in either division on day two with five bass weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces, including a 5-pound, 6-ounce smallmouth worth $250 as big bass in the Co-angler Division.
Big bass and $750 in the Pro Division went to John Jezierski of Troy, Mich., for a 5-pound, 4-ounce smallmouth.
Competition begins at 7 a.m. each day at Elizabeth Park Marina. Friday’s weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. at the marina, and Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at the Wal-Mart Supercenter located at 2155 North Telegraph Road in Monroe, Mich., at 4 p.m.
The 4-year-old EverStart Series 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. 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.