UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Cumberland

Quick Bites: EverStart Championship, Day 1

Quick Bites: EverStart Championship, Day 1
EverStart Batteries representative James Key.

2005 EverStart Series Championship
Pickwick Lake, Florence, Ala.
Opening round, Wednesday

The Key to success ... This week's championship marks the end of the road for the EverStart Series, as the venerable tournament trail will be known as the Stren Series beginning next season. With that also comes the end of the journey for well-known EverStart Batteries representative James Key, a longtime fixture at EverStart and FLW Tour events. At last night's pretournament meeting, Key and his wife and traveling partner, Paulette, were honored with a standing ovation from the crowd of 400 EverStart Championship qualifiers. "It's an experience that I'll treasure for the rest of my life, just for the friendships," said Key of his nine-year adventure along the tournament trails. "FLW is a family. We all started together nine years ago, and we've all grown together." Key acknowledges that his job has been a challenging one, but the sheer number of years on the job - and number of tournaments each year - have made it easier each passing year. "It's a big job," he said. "We had such challenges in the beginning, but now EverStart is the No. 1 marine battery in the world." ... With such a track record of success, Key believes he can deliver with another company and is on the lookout for someone new that would allow him to continue to travel along the bass-tournament trails. But looking back, one memory tops them all, and that was last night's outpouring of appreciation. "I'm here for the fishermen," he said. "I'm not here for me. It's overwhelming."

Julia Kennedy poses with her dog, Louie. Pro leader Steve Kennedy can thank Julia for his productive day-one bait.Spit and polish ... Pro leader Steve Kennedy knows by now what it takes to catch a bass. After all, he's won six tournaments, including an FLW Tour event on Kentucky Lake in 2003. So in the tackle department, he's no slouch, but he can thank his wife Julia - and more specifically, her taste in nail polish - for his day-one success on Pickwick. "We were in a tackle store in Birmingham, and I thought, `Ooh, this is a pretty color - it matches my fingernail polish!'" Julia remembers of the first time she saw the magic bait. "I thought, `This is destiny, serendipity and all of those words!' But he wouldn't buy it. I took it to the counter and said, `I'm buying it myself, and I'm going to kick your butt.'" Kick his butt she did, tossing the bait into Lake Seminole and bringing out a big bass that Steve was then forced to photograph. That photo went out to display prominently on a corkboard in the Birmingham tackle shop. Its legend lives on, as it handed Steve a dandy day-one position atop the leaderboard at this week's EverStart Championship.

James Richardson Sr. helped his wife Shirley secure an EverStart Championship berth.Shirley to goodness ... Just as Steve Kennedy owes his wife a favor, Shirley Richardson owes her husband one for landing her in the EverStart Championship. James Richardson Sr. earned a championship berth by finishing 13th in Southeast Division co-angler points standings. However, his wife Shirley was the first one out of qualification, ending the season ranked 41st. So James decided he'd just qualify higher in another division, and he did just that, ranking fifth in Northern Division standings. His higher berth in the Northern Division meant he qualified for the championship from there, making room for the 41st Southeast Division angler - Shirley - to advance to the championship. ... Interestingly, they're not the only husband-wife duo to fish this week's event. Brian and Renee Hensley also qualified, and Renee is a past winner of this event.

Division roundup ... As far as the top 10 is concerned, the Northern Division is dominating the pro side as much as the Central Division is leading the co-angler side. Four of the top 10 pros qualified for the championship through the Northern Division, though only one of them could actually claim to be a northerner - Alabama's Jonathan Newton, Michigan's Mike Webber, Tennessee's Lloyd Pickett Jr. and Alabama by way of Japan's Kota Kiriyama. On the co-angler side, the Central Division claimed four of the top 10, and three are from Arkansas: Mark Guin, Gene Purdy and Donna Newberry of Arkansas and Rick Turner of Texas.


Quick numbers:

No. 10 pro Scott Nielsen is making an exhausting 180-mile round-trip run to Mississippi to catch his bass.180: Approximate number of miles driven round-trip by top-10 pros Jerry Green and Scott Nielsen to a fishing hole in Mississippi.

53: Number of championship contenders from the state of California, the most from any state.

10: Number of limits caught on day one by pros and co-anglers combined.

6-1: Weight, in pounds and ounces, of the day's heaviest bass, brought in by pro Matt Herren.


Sound bites:

"Every ounce is going to count in this tournament." - No. 73 pro Tommy Williams on the stingy bite this week in north Alabama.

No. 12 pro Clark Wendlandt holds up his biggest bass of the day."It ought to be 7 pounds." - Fierce competitor Clark Wendlandt, on a 4-pound-plus bass. Wendlandt is currently tied for 12th on the pro side.

"I was hoping for five fish over two days, so I'll take this." - No. 7 pro Art Garza, who brought in one of only nine Pro Division limits on day one.

"I don't know. I didn't know I could do it today." - No. 4 pro Jonathan Newton of nearby Rogersville, when asked if his local knowledge would pay off again tomorrow.

"I rolled the dice, but I'm going to get the bigger dice out tomorrow." - Pro Wesley Strader, who sits near the bottom in 136th place.

"I missed a limit before I had one in the boat." - Pro leader Steve Kennedy, on the fifth fish he never managed to catch.

Tomorrow's takeoff is scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. CST at McFarland Park, located on James M. Spain Drive in Florence.

Tags: jennifer-simmons  quick-bites  2005-11-02-pickwick-lake 

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