The EverStart Series is headed to Santee Cooper April 19-21 for the third of four stops within the Southeast Division. The event, which is being presented by Evinrude, will feature as many as 300 pros and co-anglers taking to the water to compete for top awards up to $35,000 plus a Ranger boat with an Evinrude or Mercury outboard for the pro and a Ranger boat with an Evinrude or Mercury outboard plus $5,000 for the co-angler.

“This tournament will definitely be a post-spawn bite,” said Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C. “The weather has been extremely warm down here and we have had a mild winter – pretty much just like the rest of the country. It’s got the fish a lot farther along than they usually are for this time of year. I doubt there will be any spawning fish left, although there may be a few stragglers left on the beds.

“I think that they’ll be catching some nice fish shallow; They always catch them shallow this time of year on the trees,” Gagliardi continued. “Some anglers will catch them flipping a jig; Others will have luck fishing a Senko around stumps or structure. After the spawn, those fish just start pulling out and they’re going to get on all of those big trees and stumps out near the spawning grounds. I might target the grass, too, depending on how far along it was.

“I think you’re going to have to have a weight in the mid to upper 20-pound range to have a shot in this tournament,” Gagliardi went on to say. “Lately in the local tournaments, winning weights have been in the upper 20-pound range, but this may taper off as the fish get more into a post-spawn pattern. There’s been a few 30-pound bags weighed in this year as well, so it would not surprise me at all to see someone get over 30 (pounds).”

Anglers will take off from John C. Land III Landing located at County Road 514-260 (Greenall Road) in Summerton, S.C., at 6:30 a.m. each day. Weigh-ins will be held at the takeoff site on Day 1 and 2 beginning at 2:30 p.m. On Day 3, weigh-in will be held at the Walmart store located at 2010 Paxville Highway in Manning, S.C., beginning at 3:30 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Pros will fish for a top award of $35,000 plus a Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger 177TR with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.

The EverStart Series consists of five divisions – Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Strike King Angler of the Year title along with $5,000 for the pro and $2,000 for the co-angler. The top 40 pros and co-anglers from each respective division will qualify for the EverStart Series Championship that will be held on the Ouachita River in Monroe, La., Nov. 1-4.

The EverStart Series tournament on Santee Cooper is being hosted by the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce.

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