North American Fishing Guides

Sparkman Leads $256.825 Everstart Serie sEvent on Detroit River

TRENTON, Mich. (July 23, 2003) – Pro John Sparkman of Taylor caught five bass Wednesday that weighed 18 pounds, 1 ounce to lead opening day of the four-day, $256,825 EverStart Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River. A full field of 200 pros are competing for a top pro award worth up to $61,900 in cash and prizes, including a fully rigged Ranger 519VS Comanche bass boat. Two hundred co-anglers are in the hunt for a top co-angler award worth up to $27,800, including a Ranger 519VS Comanche.

Anglers had the run of the river as well as lakes Erie and St. Clair, and they milked all three for a total of 1,390 bass Wednesday, including 178 five-bass limits. Cooperative weather – highs in the low 80s with calm wins and sunny skies – certainly did not hamper Wednesday’s fishing. Sparkman caught his tournament-leading bass on Lake Erie using a crankbait.

“I was fishing a shallow reef with about 12 feet of water on top of it,” said Sparkman, who says his particular technique is one his fellow competitors haven’t figured out yet. “The fishing has been fantastic. I’m a local, and I practiced for four days and caught a lot of fish each day. It’s the best fishery in the world. I know the water better than a lot of the guys who are fishing this tournament, and I know where to go and where not to go. I have fish in both Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, so if the wind blows hard in one direction I’ll just go to the other lake.”

Rounding out the top five pros are David Reault of Livonia (five bass, 17 pounds, 6 ounces); Cecil Cole of Durand (five bass, 17 pounds, 5 ounces); Scott Huber of Franklin, Ohio (five bass, 17 pounds, 4 ounces); and Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo. (five bass, 17 pounds, 3 ounces).

Jason Howland of Albert Lea, Minn., leads the Co-angler Division with a five-bass catch that weighed 17 pounds. He caught his bass Wednesday swimming a jig in Lake Erie.

“I basically got lucky and got a couple of big bites, and that was the difference,” said Howland, who finished 30th at the EverStart event last month on Lake Vermilion. “I’m just amazed by the strength of the smallmouths here; it’s amazing, the brute force of these fish. I had two that weighed over 4 pounds, and it takes a while to reel them in. This is my first time ever here; it’s a whole different way of fishing for me, but I picked it up quickly.”

Rounding out the top five co-anglers are Mike Graalman of Genoa, Ohio (five bass, 16 pounds, 9 ounces); Ron Fabiszak of South Bend, Ind. (five bass, 15 pounds, 14 ounces); Bruce Dale of Jamestown, Ohio (five bass, 15 pounds, 13 ounces); and Joel Hazelbaker of Columbus, Ohio (five bass, 15 pounds, 9 ounces).

Steve Clapper of Celina, Ohio, claimed $750 Wednesday as the Pro Division big-bass winner with a 4-pound, 13-ounce bass. Jason Putman of Brentwood, Mo., took co-angler big-bass honors and $250 thanks to a 4-pound, 15-ounce bass.

Anglers take off each morning at 6 a.m. from Elizabeth Park in Trenton. Thursday’s weigh-in will also be held at Elizabeth Park beginning at 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 7555 Telegraph Road in Trenton beginning at 3 p.m. The community is encouraged to attend daily takeoffs and weigh-ins.

Following Thursday’s conclusion of the opening round, the top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers based on their two-day accumulated weight advance to Friday’s semifinal round. Weights are cleared for Friday’s competition, and the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers advance to Saturday’s final round based on Friday’s total weight. Weights are again cleared for Saturday’s competition, and anglers compete for the heaviest one-day weight.

The winning pro will take home a guaranteed cash award of $10,000 plus a new Ranger 519VS Comanche equipped with Garmin electronics and powered by an Evinrude or Yamaha outboard. If the winner is the original owner of a Ranger boat, he will receive an additional $10,000 cash bonus from Ranger for a total of $61,900 in cash and prizes. Ranger will also award an additional $3,000 to the winner if he is a Ranger Cup participant, and Garmin will award $1,000 to the winner if his boat is equipped with a fixed-mount Garmin Fishfinder or combination GPS/Sounder.

The winning co-angler is guaranteed $5,000 cash. If the winning co-angler is a registered Ranger owner, he will also receive a new Ranger 519VS Comanche for a total of $27,800 in cash and prizes.

Four divisions – Eastern, Central, Northern and Western – comprise the 2003 EverStart Series. Each division stages four regular-season tournaments leading up to the no-entry-fee $335,975 EverStart Series Championship, which will be held on Old Hickory Lake near Gallatin, Tenn., Oct. 29-Nov. 1.

In EverStart Series competition, pros supply the boats, control boat movement and fish from the front of each boat against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back of each boat and compete against other co-anglers. FLW Outdoors, the world’s leading marketer of competitive fishing, administers the EverStart Series. Other FLW Outdoors-sanctioned tournament trails include the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, the Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail, the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Tour and the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye League. FLW Outdoors will award as much as $20 million through 175 tournaments in 2003.

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. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit

FLW Outdoors

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