ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. – Koby Kreiger of Osceola, Ind., triumphed over an original field of 150 pro anglers to score $60,000 in cash and prizes, including an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger bass boat, as the winner of the $325,000 EverStart Series Championship on Lake Martin near Alexander City, Ala. Kreiger caught five bass weighing 7 pounds, 12 ounces to top the 10 anglers who advanced to Saturday's final round.
“I didn't have a good opening day, and that put me way behind,” said Kreiger, who caught his winning fish with less than 40 minutes to go in the final round. “I made up a lot of ground on day two and fished a little better after that.”
Kreiger dedicated his win to EverStart Series tournament director Jerry Stakely and his wife, Connie, who is fighting a battle with cancer. “I wanted to win this tournament for them,” said a visibly moved Kreiger.
Kreiger glided past opening-round leader Jason Quinn of Lake Wylie, S.C., to win his first EverStart Series Championship. He caught most of his bass using a Super Spook Junior. Kreiger, a self-described shallow-water fisherman, adjusted to changing lake conditions when the shallow fish vanished. “I throw that bait no matter what,” he said. “I caught most of my fish right on the bank. I put a feather on the back of my lure to dress it up.”
Kreiger caught 10 bass weighing 13 pounds, 12 ounces Wednesday and Thursday to place 17th in the opening round and survive the original cut, which narrowed the field to the top 20 anglers. The field was cut again to the top 10 anglers following Friday's semifinal round, and Kreiger advanced by catching five more bass weighing 7 pounds, 4 ounces to sit in the No. 4 spot heading into Saturday's final round. Weights were cleared for both the semifinal and final rounds.
Quinn and third-place angler Mark Zona of Sturgis, Mich., tied with five bass weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces, but Quinn's heavier day-three stringer vaulted him past Zona and earned him a $20,000 payday. Zona took home a check worth $15,000.
Rounding out the top five pros are Mark Holloway of Snellville, Ga., (five bass, 6 pounds, 3 ounces, $12,500) and Marcel Veenstra of Newtown, Pa., (five bass, 5 pounds, 13 ounces, $10,000).
Steve Marler of Fenton, Mo., took the co-angler championship crown Friday, winning $40,000 in cash and prizes, including a fully-rigged Ranger boat, for his five-bass catch weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces.
One hundred and fifty pro anglers and 150 co-anglers took off from Wind Creek State Park in Alexander City Wednesday to kick off the tournament, which featured the top 50 anglers in final points standings in each of three EverStart Series divisions – Eastern, Central or Northern. Each division features four regular-season tournaments, and every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points. Points determine angler standings.
Wind Creek State Park is part of the Alabama Bass Trail, featuring accommodations, facilities and activities to complement every fishing outing from weekend getaways to the nation's premier bass tournaments.
Coverage of the 2003 EverStart Series Championship will be broadcast to 55 million subscribers nationwide on the Outdoor Life Network. The program will air Nov. 17 at 8:30 a.m. CST.
Designed as a pathway to the prestigious Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the EverStart Series will award more than $2.8 million to bass anglers in 2002. Anglers who finished in the top 10 in final points standings within their respective division are eligible to advance to the 2003 Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the world's most lucrative bass-tournament series.
The EverStart Series and the Wal-Mart FLW Tour are administered by FLW Outdoors, the world's leading marketer of competitive fishing. Other FLW Outdoors-sanctioned tournament trails are the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Circuit and the Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail.
Wal-Mart and many of America's most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its five tournament trails. Wal-Mart has been the title sponsor of FLW Outdoors since 1997.