2005 EverStart Series Championship
Pickwick Lake, Florence, Ala.
Semifinal round, Friday
Western repeat? … Last year’s EverStart Series Championship was won by an angler from the relatively new Western Division, and another West Coast figure put himself in position today to extend the California streak. Gabe Bolivar of Ramona, Calif., was the first pro to weigh in today, and he quickly took the lead with a limit of bass weighing 11 pounds, 14 ounces. Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., eventually took over the lead with 12 pounds, 2 ounces, but Bolivar feels good about his chances. “I think there are a lot of fish there,” he said of his fishing hole. “I think I can do it again.” … Bolivar said he watched pro Brent Ehrler take the victory last season and hopes to continue the Western legacy. “Brent told me winning that championship was the sweetest thing that happened to him,” he said. “I watched the whole thing.” … Also in contention is Western Division pro Roy Hawk of Salt Lake City, Utah, in fifth place with 8 pounds, 11 ounces, and Jack Gadlage, formerly of Arizona, sits in fourth place with 9 pounds. Three Westerners also finished in the top 10 on the co-angler side, with Paul Bailey of Agoura Hills, Calif., finishing fifth, Steven Christensen of Ferron, Utah, taking sixth place and Lewis Southard of Chandler, Ariz., finishing 10th. Southard, though, earned a championship berth via the Northern Division.
Miracle man … Co-angler Gilbert Herald only weighed in three bass this week but earned $6,000 for his fourth-place finish – a cool $2,000 per bass. “I maybe caught five fish altogether – only three weighed fish,” he said. “It’s a miracle.” Like all but three co-anglers, Herald blanked today, but he caught one the first day and two big 4-plus-pounders yesterday to claim the co-angler opening-round lead. His solid championship finish caps off a stellar year for Herald, one that happened almost by accident. Herald fished the EverStart Series Central Division’s opening event on Sam Rayburn in his native Texas and finished fifth – but at the time, it was the only event he was signed up for. “As soon as I got home, I went ahead and signed up for the rest of them,” he said. “But I was on the waiting list at Kentucky Lake, and I didn’t get in until after the deadline.” Herald went on to finish fourth at that Kentucky Lake event to end the regular season on a high note. But he won’t have to scramble next year. “I’ll be signed up for all of them,” he said.
On a rookie roll … Co-angler Matthew Parker of Whitesburg, Ga., finished this week’s championship in seventh place, marking the fourth tournament in a row in which he has reached the top 10. Parker, who took the co-angler points crown in the Southeast Division, began the season with a 60th-place finish on Lake Okeechobee, but he finished fourth at the next tournament on Santee Cooper and followed that up with a fifth-place finish at the next event on Lake Eufaula. He then ended the season in the winner’s circle with a victory on West Point Lake before making yet another final-round appearance this week. What’s even more intriguing, however, is the fact that this is Parker’s first season of tournament fishing – ever. “I’ve fished all my life, but this is the first year that I’ve fished any tournaments,” he said. “I didn’t know there were as many people who loved it as much as I did.” He cashed the last check that went out at Okeechobee – the payback is through 60th place – and, as he says, the rest is history. “It was the top 10 from there on out,” he said.
Mean and Green … Pro Jerry Green has been making an excruciatingly long 90-mile run to Mississippi this week to catch his bass, and it paid off with a final-round slot – Green is currently in eighth place heading into the final day. In practice, though, he came across something over there in Mississippi that the Texas native wasn’t quite familiar with – a Coosa River spotted bass. “I’d fished for spotted bass before, but this was a Coosa River bass,” said Green, who did not immediately recognize it. Green hauled the fish all the way back to Alabama to show it to FLW Tour tournament director Bill Taylor in hopes of landing in the record books. “I caught a 5-pound, 13-ounce spotted bass, and we thought it was a meanmouth,” he explained. “It would have been a world record.” If that bass was a meanmouth, Green would have been correct – the current International Game Fish Association world-record meanmouth weighed 5 pounds, 10 ounces.
4: Number of ounces separating leader Steve Kennedy from No. 2 Gabe Bolivar.
100: Number of fish that co-angler winner Jerry Goble estimates he caught today.
4: Number of Goble’s fish that were keepers.
62,500: Number of dollars that Jerry Goble earned for his co-angler victory, including value of the bass boat he won plus Ranger contingency money.
“If you need somebody to knock him off stage, I can do that.” – No. 10 co-angler Lewis Southard, who jokingly offered to resort to physical means to oust leader Jerry Goble off the stage since he did not have the fish to do it.
“That’s not legal.” – Tournament director Chris Jones, in response.
“If I knew that, I’d be successful all the time.” – No. 3 pro Sam Newby, when asked what was the key to his success.
“I hope it made some good TV, because it broke my heart.” – Leader Steve Kennedy, on losing two solid keepers today on back-to-back casts.
“I think not making it in the Central really lit a fire under me.” – Local pro Jonathan Newton, currently in sixth place. When he failed to make the home-lake championship from the Central Division, he signed up for the Northerns and earned a ticket to fish this week.
The final takeoff is scheduled to take place tomorrow at 7 a.m. CST at McFarland Park, located on James M. Spain Drive in Florence.