GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – Local angler Edward Gettys of Stevenson dominated the semifinal and final rounds of the $256,825 EverStart Series Eastern Division event presented by Evinrude on Guntersville Lake to take the win Saturday by a whopping 7 pounds, 15 ounces. Gettys caught a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 44 pounds, 15 ounces to earn $64,900 in cash and prizes, including a fully rigged Ranger boat, and his second EverStart Series victory on Guntersville Lake.
The hot, calm weather conditions that prevailed over the tournament’s four days played right into Gettys’ hands, as his 20 years of Guntersville experience told him to head for the deeper water. He saved his most prolific spots for the final two days and spent the opening round fishing grassy areas. He caught nearly all of his bass over the course of the tournament on a watermelon Senko and an 11-inch worm, though the final two days he Carolina-rigged the worm in the deeper water. Gettys fished depths of 10 to 11 feet and didn’t bring in a bass Saturday that weighed less than 3 pounds.
“I’ve been fishing this deep pattern for years,” said Gettys, who has seven FLW Outdoors top-10 finishes on Guntersville Lake. “I teach school and I’m off in the summer, and I fish a lot, so I’ve got a lot of knowledge and experience on this lake. When I’m not fishing I’m coaching girls’ basketball – that’s what I do with all my time.”
Gettys’ other EverStart Series win on Guntersville Lake occurred in 2002, and Gettys didn’t quite blow away the field then like he did this week. “Last time I won here by 1 ounce, so I guess that was a little bit closer,” he said with a laugh. “Sometimes it’s really close and sometimes it’s not.” Gettys is considering putting his tournament winnings toward building a house. He earned $10,000 cash plus an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger 519 VS equipped with Garmin electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart batteries for the win. Because he is the original owner of a Ranger boat, he received $10,000 in bonus money from Ranger as well as another $3,000 cash from Ranger as the highest-finishing participant in the Ranger Cup incentive program for a total award worth $64,900.
Rounding out the top five pros are Mark Lamb of West Palm Beach, Fla. (10 bass, 37 pounds, $10,000); Marshall Deakins of Dunlap, Tenn. (nine bass, 32 pounds, 6 ounces, $9,000); Snickers pro Pat Fisher of Dacula, Ga. (10 bass, 31 pounds, 1 ounce, $8,000); and Dwayne Horton of Knoxville, Tenn. (10 bass, 29 pounds, 15 ounces, $7,500).
Co-angler Greg Coots of Fyffe led day three and fished with Gettys on Saturday to claim his first EverStart Series victory on his very first try. He caught a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 38 pounds to win the Co-angler Division by an astounding 14 pounds, 5 ounces. Coots used a 1/2-ounce jig in the deep water to claim his tournament-winning bass and $35,000 in cash and prizes. He earned $5,000 cash for the win plus a Ranger boat for being the original owner of a Ranger.
“I caught 90 percent of my fish on that 1/2-ounce jig,” Coots said. “Whenever we fished deep stuff is when I caught most of my fish; when they went shallow I didn’t catch many. I live here close to the lake, and when I found out (the EverStart Series) was having a tournament here I went ahead and tried to get in it early. I just want to commend my partners. I drew great partners the last three days – all were locals that knew me, and they were super nice to let me catch their fish. When I needed one more, they let me have it. That’s the main thing – I drew the right people.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Michi Oba of Tokyo (six bass, 23 pounds, 11 ounces, $4,000); Joe Hawkins of Stafford, Va. (nine bass, 21 pounds, 12 ounces, $3,500); Stephen Semelsberger Jr. of Mt. Airy, Md. (seven bass, 20 pounds, 15 ounces, $2,500); and Blaine Shelton of Moulton (eight bass, 18 pounds, 9 ounces, $2,000).
Oba caught only one bass Saturday, but at 7 pounds, 6 ounces, it was the heaviest bass of the tournament.
The tournament began Wednesday from Guntersville State Park with 200 pros and 200 co-anglers fishing for two days to determine the 20-angler semifinal-round field based on two-day accumulated weights. Weights were cleared for Friday’s semifinal round, and anglers competed that day for one of 10 slots in Saturday’s final round. Weights carried over Saturday, and the pro and co-angler winners were determined by the heaviest two-day weights.
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 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, 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. Eastern Division anglers who finish in the top 40 in the final points standings are eligible to compete in the championship.
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.