JASPER, Texas – Kellogg’s pro Jim Tutt, Longview, Texas, landed more than $50,000 in cash and prizes including a Ranger boat Saturday with five bass weighing 20 pounds, 11 ounces in the EverStart Series Central Division opener on Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
Tutt topped 165 Pro Division anglers after four days of competition and two elimination rounds to claim his second win in five years of EverStart Series competition. He made the top-20 cut Thursday in 10th place with a two-day, opening-round total of eight bass weighing 22 pounds, 9 ounces. He then landed the heaviest five-bass limit of the tournament – 23 pounds, 7 ounces – Friday to make the top-10 cut in first place. Catch weights were cleared for all competitors following each cut.
“I’m so nervous I can hardly talk,” said Tutt after taking the win from his friend Dicky Newberry, Houston, Texas, who finished second and collected $10,000 with five bass weighing 17 pounds, 10 ounces. “This was the same situation as the 2000 BFL (Bass Fishing League) regional on Lake Ouachita when he beat me by 6 ounces. But I got him this year.”
All week, Tutt’s bass were caught on a ¾-ounce orange Rat-L-Trap that he was working around a 500-yard stretch of hydrilla in 6 to 12 feet of water. While his technique was not unique, Tutt says he was probably fishing deeper than most competitors. He also learned on day two that a shot of Gambler’s shrimp-flavored Bang on his lure enticed bass that had previously swiped at the bait and missed. “It sounds kind of funny, but I really think it was key,” Tutt said. “After I started using it, I didn’t miss another fish.”
Pro David Curtis, Trinity, Texas, took third and $9,000 with two bass weighing 14 pounds, 12 ounces. One of his bass weighed 9 pounds, 6 ounces. Jeff Ransom, Muldrow, Okla., (three bass, 11 pounds, 15 ounces, $8,000) and Jeremiah Kindy, Benton, Ark., (five bass, 11 pounds, 2 ounces, $7,500) rounded out the top-five pros.
In the 165-competitor Co-angler Division, Charles Carlile, Tulsa, Okla., claimed his second EverStart Series win and $6,000 with four bass weighing 12 pounds, 13 ounces. He was the No. 4 seed going into the final round after landing two bass weighing 8 pounds, 1 ounce in the semifinal round and six bass weighing 19 pounds, 8 ounces in the two-day opening round. Catch weights were cleared at the start of each round.
Interestingly, Carlile and Tutt both claimed their first EverStart Series victories on Lake of the Ozarks in 1999.
Co-anglers Stephen Francis, Brookeland, Texas, (two bass, 10 pounds, 13 ounces, $4,000) and Gerald Andrews, Benton, Ky., (three bass, 10 pounds, 1 ounce, $3,500) finished second and third respectively.
The tournament began Wednesday with 330 anglers taking off from Twin Dikes Marina in Brookfield. Grand Lake near Grove, Okla., is the next Central Division EverStart Series stop April 3-6.
Now in its fifth season, the EverStart Series features three divisions – Eastern, Central and Northern – with four events each plus the $325,000 EverStart Series Championship presented by Conseco. The top 50 pros and co-anglers from each division will be invited to the Championship for a shot at top pro awards of more than $60,000 in cash and prizes and top co-angler awards of more than $40,000 in cash and prizes. The top 10 pros and co-anglers from each division also receive priority entry into the 2003 Wal-Mart FLW Tour – bass fishing’s most lucrative tournament series – where they could win up to $260,000 and $40,000 in cash respectively.
More than $2.8 million will be awarded to bass anglers through the 2002 EverStart Series.