EverStart finalists delayed, but not deterred

Fog shortens Saturday's competition

FLORENCE, Ala. - Thick fog delayed action at the $325,000 EverStart Series Championship for about two hours Saturday morning, leaving five pro anglers rethinking their strategy for the final round of competition.

Ricky Shumpert of Lexington, S.C., a winner already this year on the EverStart Series at Lake Santee Cooper, liked what he saw when he arrived at McFarland Park for takeoff. His fishing spot is only about eight miles from the ramp, so a shorter day helps his chances against the other four competitors who are traveling greater distances. Shumpert will, in effect, have a longer day of fishing than everyone else. "I'm loving this," he said.

Greg Pugh, on the other hand, has a long way to go. He is fishing about 40 miles upriver on Wheeler Lake and must navigate a couple of time-consuming lock systems to get there. However, Pugh is also from nearby Cullman, Ala. As the only "local" fishing the finals, he is best equipped to adapt and find fish closer to home on the familiar waters if he decides he can't make it all the way to Wheeler.

Day-three leader Jim Eakins of Nixa, Mo., plans to return to his secret dock location where he plans to try and catch a big bass that has eluded him all week. "There is one particular fish that I haven't been able to get," he said. "I've had him on three times. ... I'll try for him again today."

The two final-round rookies from the Northern Division, Richard Grosse of Hebron, Ohio, and Joe Balog of Independence, Ohio, were just excited to be fishing Saturday - fog or no fog. "I'm a little twitchy and fidgety," said Grosse. "But I'll be all right."

The pro anglers finally took off at roughly 8:30 a.m. and will return for the final-round weigh-in to be held at 3:30 at the Wal-Mart on Hough Road in Florence. Competitors restarted the day with zero weight and are fishing in a one-day shootout to determine the 2001 EverStart Series champion. The winner takes home $25,000 and a fully rigged Ranger boat.

Vital statistics

Sunrise: 6:20 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 45 degrees
Expected high temperature: 71 degrees
Water temperature: 58 degrees
Wind: Light west to northwest
Relative humidity: 74 percent
Day's outlook: Sunny

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Photos

Tags: morning-story  jeff-schroeder 

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