Baldizan leads opening day of $214,525 EverStart Series event on Lake Pleasant - Major League Fishing

Baldizan leads opening day of $214,525 EverStart Series event on Lake Pleasant

January 28, 2004 • MLF • Archives

PEORIA, Ariz. – Pro Rudy Baldizan Jr. of Peoria, Ariz., caught five bass weighing 12 pounds, 7 ounces to lead the $214,525 EverStart Series Western Division event on Lake Pleasant near Peoria, Ariz. A full field of 162 boats are competing in the tournament, which will award the winning pro as much as $60,400 in cash and prizes.

The second season of the EverStart Series Western Division kicked off on a dreary day for central Arizona. Skies were cloudy for part of the day and morning temperatures were in the 40s. Showers and thunderstorms moved through the area during the day. Water temperatures are currently in the low- to mid-50s on Lake Pleasant, and anglers are reporting that bass are staging near spawning areas.

“I caught my fish by drop-shotting,” Baldizan said. “My fish were caught 20 to 30 feet deep on a finesse worm. My biggest fish was about 3 pounds, but if you get a bite on this lake, you know it’s going to be solid fish. All the fish are a pretty good size.

“I’m going to give it my best shot tomorrow, but with this lake, you never know what to expect. A small cold front came through the area today and the fishing could be completely different tomorrow.”

Rounding out the top five pros are Marcus Clouse of Henderson, Nev. (five bass, 11 pounds); Derek Yamamoto of Mesa (five bass, 10 pounds, 3 ounces); Paul Hodges of Glendale (five bass, 8 pounds, 15 ounces); and Mike Bush of West Hills, Calif. (five bass, 8 pounds, 10 ounces).

Paul Williams of Cypress, Calif., leads the Co-angler Division thanks to a five bass limit weighing 9 pounds, 3 ounces.

“I was fishing 10 to 35 feet deep with a finesse worm on a drop-shot,” Williams said. “The water is really clear. The clarity is at least 8 to 10 feet.

“I’m surprised I caught this much. Even though each practice day got better, I didn’t catch a limit this big while prefishing.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are John Morla of Ione, Calif. (five bass, 8 pounds, 4 ounces); Ralph Wells of Castaic, Calif. (five bass, 7 pounds, 11 ounces); Brian Holiday of Highland, Utah (five bass, 7 pounds, 8 ounces); and Gary Collins of Moorpark, Calif. (five bass, 7 pounds, 5 ounces).

Art Berry of Ramona, Calif., earned $500 as the big-bass award winner in the Pro Division, thanks to an 4-pound, 11-ounce bass. Tony Sarkis of Phoenix claimed co-angler big-bass honors with a 3-pound, 13-ounce bass that earned him $200.

Anglers caught 743 bass Wednesday, including 59 five-bass limits. More than 99 percent of the bass were released alive.Anglers will take off each morning at 7 a.m. from Pleasant Harbor Marina in Peoria. Thursday’s weigh-in will also be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 18551 N. 83rd Ave. in Glendale beginning at 4 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins.

The full field will compete for two days to determine the top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers who will advance to Friday’s semifinal round based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for the semifinal round, and anglers compete for one day to determine who will advance to Saturday’s final round. Only the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers compete Saturday, and the winner is determined by the heaviest two-day weight.

The winning pro is guaranteed $8,500 cash plus an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger 519 VS equipped with Garmin electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart Batteries. If the winner is the original owner of a Ranger boat, he will receive a $10,000 bonus from Ranger for a top pro award worth $60,400. If he is a qualifying participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program, Ranger will award another $3,000 cash (or $1,500 to the highest-finishing Ranger Cup participant if not the winner). The program also includes the “Powered by Yamaha” contingency award, which awards an additional 50 percent of Ranger Cup bonus to the Ranger Cup winner if the boat is powered by a Yamaha outboard. Garmin will award the winning pro $1,000 if he uses only Garmin electronics and at least one unit is a qualifying unit.

The winning co-angler is guaranteed $4,500 cash, and if he is a Ranger boat owner, Ranger will award him a new Ranger 519 VS for a total prize package worth $34,500. Co-anglers who make the final round of each regular-season EverStart Series event and wear an EverStart/Evinrude shirt and cap on stage are awarded points toward the EverStart Batteries and Evinrude Outboard Engines Co-angler Award. The co-angler receiving the most points by the end of the season receives a 2004 Evinrude 225HO Direct Injection outboard engine rigged on a Ranger boat equipped with a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart batteries.

The EverStart Series features a pro/co-angler format with pros supplying the boats, fishing from the front deck against other pros and controlling boat movement. Co-anglers fish from the back deck and compete against other co-anglers. Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points that determine angler standings. Two hundred points are awarded to the winner, 199 points for second, 198 points for third, and so on.

Designed as a pathway to the $6.8 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the world’s most lucrative bass-tournament series, the $3.88 million EverStart Series features four divisions – Eastern, Central, Northern and Western – with four regular-season events each. The season culminates with the $335,975 EverStart Series Championship presented by Energizer, which will be held Nov. 3-6 on Lake Cumberland near Somerset, Ky. The event will be broadcast to 65 million subscribers of the Outdoor Life Network on the “FLW Outdoors” television series. Western Division anglers who finish in the top 30 in the final points standings are eligible to compete in the championship.

The second Western Division tournament will be held March 17-20 on Lake Havasu in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., followed by a stop on Clear Lake in Clearlake, Calif., April 14-17. Regular-season competition concludes May 5-8 with a tournament presented by Garmin on the California Delta near Oakley, Calif.

Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors is the world’s leading marketer of competitive fishing. FLW Outdoors-sanctioned tournament trails are the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, EverStart Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour and Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League. EverStart Batteries, the best-selling batteries in the world, are marketed exclusively by Wal-Mart stores.

Wal-Mart and many of America’s most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its six tournament trails. Wal-Mart has been the title sponsor of FLW Outdoors since 1997.