Oklahoma native nets $15,000 and new Ranger boat in victory
JASPER, Texas – Picking up right where he left off in the semifinals, Mark Goines duplicated his first-place finish in the all-important final round of competition to win the first EverStart tournament of his career. Goines, a native of Shady Point, Okla., could hardly contain his excitement after edging out fellow competitor Wesley Strader for the championship.
“God bless Texas,” said Goines, after learning that his 14-pound, 12-ounce catch was good enough for first place. “I love it.”
Although many anglers opted to fish the shallows of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Goines employed a much different strategy on his way to the championship.
“I think I was doing something a little different than what everyone else was doing,” said Goines. “I stayed in one area the whole time and I fished a little bit deeper than most of the others. I just stuck with my game plan and it all worked out.”
Although Goines walked away with the top prize, he said he had his doubts coming into the final weigh-in.
“I came to this tournament just hoping to get a check,” he said. “I knew I had a good day, but honestly, I wound up with more weight than I thought. It's a big relief to win.”
Goines, who flipped a tubebait throughout the tournament using 25-pound test line, said one of the keys to victory was the strength of his partner, co-angler champion Bo Standley.
“Bo was a great partner. It's always a blessing to have a partner who you can work with,” said Goines.
Although Goines has had plenty of past success as a fisherman, he said that he will never forget his first EverStart victory.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Goines, who quit his job to become a full-time fisherman last year. “I've always wanted to fish for a living and it looks like it's starting to pay off. It's like a dream come true.”
Tough luck for Strader
Despite finishing in second place, Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., probably had the most agonizing weigh-in in recent memory. After besting 10th-place finisher Mark Jordan, Strader watched in anxious anticipation as the other eight anglers approached the podium to weigh-in their fish. One by one they all failed to beat Strader's catch of 12 pounds, 7 ounces. However, just when it seemed that Strader would walk away victorious, Goines approached the podium to weigh-in the final stringer.
Goines, the only angler left in the tournament who had a chance of defeating Strader, walked up onto the stage and placed his stringer on the scales. Immediately, Strader knew he was in trouble. And unfortunately for the Tennessee native, his fears were borne out as Goines topped the scales at 14 pounds.
“At first, I didn't think 12-pounds, 7-ounces was good enough to win,” said Strader, who took home a check for $10,000. “But when the guys kept coming up and were unable to beat me, I started to think I had a chance. I was really nervous. But in the end, it just wasn't enough.”
Despite the tough loss, Strader said it was a thrill to come in second place nonetheless.
“Any time you can compete against these guys and make the top 10, you've got to feel pretty good about your performance,” said Strader, who recorded his highest finish in an EverStart tournament to date. “I'm tickled to death to be here. It's been a lot of fun.”
Adam Wright of Benton, Ark., finished in third place with a catch of 11 pounds, 15 ounces.
“I didn't lose a fish today,” said Wright, who took home a check for $9,000. “But I just couldn't catch the big one I needed.”
Darrel Roberston of Jay, Okla., finished fourth with a catch of 10 pounds, 10 ounces. Robertson, who took home a check for $8,000, said that the high water level and small bites prevented him from making a significant run at the championship.
“Every time I come to Sam Rayburn it feels like I'm fishing a new lake,” said Robertson of the ever-changing conditions on the famous Texas reservoir. “Unfortunately, I didn't get many big bites today. In fact, I think the biggest fish I caught all week was a three-and-a-half pounder. But overall, I've had a good tournament. It's been fun.”
Joel Barber of Brandon, Miss., finished in fifth place with a catch of 10 pounds, 8 ounces. Barber won $7,500 for his efforts.
Rounding out the top-10 finalists were: Shane Allman (sixth) of Sam Rayburn, Texas, with a catch of 10 pounds, 3 ounces; Cody Bird (seventh) of Granbury, Texas, with a catch of 10 pounds; Jim Eakins (eighth) of Nixa, Mo., with a catch of 9 pounds, 8 ounces; Jeff Stevens (ninth) of Terre Haute, Ind., with a catch of 6 pounds, 10 ounces; and Mark Jordan (tenth) of Kevil, Ky., with a catch of 5 pounds, 2ounces.
The next EverStart Series Central Division event is scheduled to take place May 2-5 on Kentucky Lake near Gilbertsville, Ky.