Pickwick pride on the line - Major League Fishing

Pickwick pride on the line

Anglers to grapple with 15-inch minimum in EverStart Series Central Division battle
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Anglers get ready for the start of takeoff. Photo by Gary Mortenson.
March 24, 2004 • Gary Mortenson • Archives

FLORENCE, Ala. – With the sun already streaking over the horizon, 400 anglers departed the beautiful confines of McFarland Park Marina shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday morning to kick off the start of the second tour stop of the 2004 EverStart Series Central Division circuit. However, although more than $250,000 in total prize money is up for grabs, anglers will definitely have to earn their money this time around on Pickwick Lake.

The reason? For many years, anglers enjoyed a 12-inch minimum catch requirement in tournament settings on Pickwick Lake and related waterways. However, due to various environmental and ecological concerns, the state DNR raised the minimum limit to a healthy 15 inches – one of the strictest standards anglers will likely see all year – a mere three weeks ago.

“It’s going to be tougher this year,” said pro Terry Bolton of Paducah, Ky. “I had two good days of practice but I also had some difficult days as well. They raised the limit to try and strengthen the overall health of the fishery. It’s going to be interesting.”

Boaters head to the start line.The full field – 200 pros and 200 co-anglers – is slated to compete for two days to determine the top-20 cut in each division. Weights will then be cleared for the semifinal round. On Friday, anglers will once again hit the water to determine who advances to Saturday’s final round. Only the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers will advance to the finals – the winner being determined by the heaviest two-day weight over the course of the semifinals and final day of competition.

The winning pro is guaranteed to receive a cash award of at least $10,000 as well as a fully rigged Ranger boat, valued at another $40,000. The top co-angler will be awarded $5,000 and, if various incentives are met, receive a Ranger boat package valued at an additional $35,000.

Currently, David Truax of Beaumont, Texas, leads all pros in the angler of the year race after winning the first Central Division tour event on Sam Rayburn in February. Daniel Armstrong of Fayetteville, Ark., is in first place in the Co-angler Division.

EverStart action continues at today’s weigh-in, scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. Central time at McFarland Park located on James M. Spain Drive in Florence, Ala.

Wednesday’s conditions:

Sunrise: 5:48 a.m.

Temperature at takeoff: 51 degrees

Expected high temperature: 73 degrees

Water temperature: 58 degrees

Wind: from the southeast at 8 mph

Relative humidity: 47 percent

Day’s outlook: partly cloudy