GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. — In a dramatic, down-to-the-wire finish, Keith Monson of Burgin, Ky., caught five bass weighing 19 pounds, 1 ounce on Kentucky Lake Saturday edging runner-up Mike Hawkes of Sabinal, Texas, by a scant 1 ounce to win $10,000 and an Evinrude- or Johnson-powered Ranger bass boat in the third Central Division EverStart Batteries Series tournament of 2000.
Monson, a 41-year-old convenience store owner, claimed his first EverStart win over nine other finalists in the Pro Division after surviving three days of preliminary competition. He caught his limit fishing small creeks on south Barkley Lake, flipping a black/chatreuse Vortex jig and pitching a pumkinseed Brush Hawg.
“I'm a nervous wreck,” said a shakey Monson after his 1-ounce victory. “I lost two 4-pounders today that I thought would haunt me. My winning weight was 19-1, but what I really need is to call 911; I can barely breathe.”
Taking second through fifth in the Pro Division were (2) Mike Hawkes, Sabinal, Texas, 19-0, $10,000; (3) Shawn Penn, Benton, Ky., 14-3, $9,000; (4) Wes Thomas, Hanover, Ind., 12-13, $8,000; and (5) Koby Kreiger, Osceola, Ind., 12-0, $7,000.
Chuck Rounds of Benton, Ky., claimed first place in the Co-Angler Division and collected $6,000 for four bass weighing 9 pounds, 5 ounces. Finishing second through fifth in the division were (2) WD (Hoot) Gibson, Bryant, Ark., 7-11, $3,500; (3) Dwayne Morris, Morehead, Ky., 4-10, $3,000; (4) Wayne Sherbet, Pell City, Ala., 4-8, $2,500; and (5) Lynn Wilson, Paducah, Ky., 3-12, $2,000.
“I'm still weak in the knees and have butterflies in my stomach,” said an excited 51-year-old Chuck Rounds. “I have been fishing EverStart for three years and I had never cracked the top 30 before, not to mention making the final round, and now this. It's overwhelming.”
The tournament began Wednesday morning with 170 professional anglers and 170 co-anglers taking off from Moors Resort in Gilbertsville, Ky., vying for a share of the event's $164,000 purse. After two elimination rounds, 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.