ROGERS, Ark. — Defending EverStart Challenge champion, Curt Lytle, 31, of Suffolk, Va., rose to the occasion yet again on Beaver Lake to win $10,000 and an Evinrude- or Johnson-powered Ranger bass boat Saturday with five bass weighing 12 pounds, 4 ounces.
With two EverStart wins and a sixth place showing in the Wal-Mart FLW Tour on Beaver Lake, Lytle's confidence should be soaring as he shifts his focus to the FLW Tour's Wal-Mart Open, which will take place on the lake April 12-15.
“This place has been great to me,” he said. “Mentally, for whatever reason, I fish well here.”
Despite his track record on Beaver Lake, Lylte is cautiously optimistic about his chances for victory at the upcoming Wal-Mart Open. “I hope the tournament is different,” he said. “If the fish are the same as they are now, I'll probably make the same mental mistake that hurts so many anglers. I can't try to fish a repeat of this tournament.”
Taking second through fifth in the Pro Division were George Toalson of Claremore, Okla., with five bass weighing 10-12 worth $10,000; Jerry Evans of Edmond, Okla., with five bass weighing 10-7 worth $9,000; Jeff Stevens of Terre Haute, Ind., with five bass weighing 9-13 worth $8,000; and Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla., with five bass weighing 9-12 worth $7,000.
Jack Morse of Oglesby, Texas, claimed first place in the Co-Angler Division and collected $6,000 for five bass weighing 10 pounds, 15 ounces. Finishing second through fifth in the Co-Angler Division were Hoot Gibson of Bryant, Ark., with five bass weighing 9-12 worth $3,500; Myron Watts of Malvern, Ark., with five bass weighing 7-6 worth $3,000; Larry Walker of Pea Ridge, Ark., with five bass weighing 7-5 worth $2,500; and John Ogle of Rogers, Ark., with five bass weighing 6-11 worth $2,000.
“This is the best feeling in the world,” said Morse, who is fishing his first EverStart season. “I can barely talk I'm so excited. I didn't get nervous until it was time to walk up on stage. Then it hit me.”
The tournament began Wednesday morning with 175 professional anglers and 175 co-anglers taking off from Prairie Creek Marina in Rogers, Ark., to claim a piece of the event's $164,000 purse. After two elimination rounds, however, only 10 anglers remained in each division for Saturday's finale.
Now in its third year, the EverStart Series is comprised of two divisions, Eastern and Central, with four multi-day events per division. The top 75 pros and top 75 co-anglers from each division will advance to the year-end EverStart Invitational Challenge at Cypress Gardens, Fla., which features a purse of $360,000.
Over the course of the season, the EverStart Series awards anglers up to $1.7 million in cash and prizes. It also provides a pathway to the prestigious Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the richest tournament series in history. Winning anglers in the Pro and Co-Angler divisions of each EverStart tournament, as well as the overall top 10 anglers, based on a system of points and pounds, receive priority entry in the 2001 FLW Tour.
The series' title sponsor, EverStart Batteries, is the No. 1 retail selling automotive and marine battery brand in the world.