March 07, 2016
In a final day rally for the ages, Edwin Evers brought his brand of bass fishing bedlam to the choppy waters of northeastern Oklahoma's Grand Lake on Sunday afternoon.
Starting the final round of the 46th Bassmaster Classic more than six pounds out of the lead, Evers knew that he was in danger of being nothing more than a footnote during the potential wire-to-wire coronation of his friend and Bassmaster Elite Series tour roommate, Jason Christie.
Christie, a native Oklahoma son hailing from nearby Park Hill, entered the final day with 10 bass tipping the scales at 37 pounds, 9 ounces, good enough for a sizable lead over Texan Todd Faircloth who sat in second place (31 pounds, 14 ounces) and Evers, who was sitting in third place (31 pounds, 4 ounces).
With Grand Lake o' the Cherokees fishing a bit tough after record rains in December left the lake high, chilly and muddy, most observers felt like that all Christie had to do was boat a limit of keepers on Sunday and he'd beat all 25 anglers fishing in the final round of the annual Classic derby.
As it turns out, Christie's bag of just four fish, weighing 12 pounds, 9 ounces, was nearly good enough to beat every angler who was fishing on Sunday.
All but one angler, that is.
And that angler was Evers, another native Oklahoma son hailing from nearby Talala, who won his first-ever Classic title and his 11th B.A.S.S. victory overall with one of the sport's most stirring all-time final day performances.
BassFan.com’s “Scenes From The Dock – Day 3” photo gallery.
Gambling on a long Sunday morning run up to the Elk River portion of the lake (at one point, he was less than five miles from the Missouri state line), Evers swung for the fences and found his Nitro boat settling onto a flat that held surprisingly clear water in an area littered with laydown logs.
The flat also was littered with bass, sizable fish that fifth-place finisher Randy Howell (45-10) had discovered a day earlier on Saturday but couldn't get them to bite.
What Howell didn't know and Evers did was the missing ingredient was the wind, something that made the finicky fish in the region more than willing to bite on Sunday as steady gales in the 20-mph range blew.
"The Elk, it's so finicky," said Evers. "I told I don't know how many people that it won't be won in the Elk and then here I am and I won it in the Elk."
Evers won it there because he knew the spot's potential, camping and canoeing in the area with his son Kade on a number of occasions.
He also knew that his father-in-law, Terry Butcher Sr., and his brother-in-law, former Bassmaster Elite Series pro Terry Butcher, have done extremely well in that particular area of Grand Lake during a number of previous tournaments held on the water body.
Armed with that knowledge, Evers had dutifully checked the area out during practice, shaking off a couple of big fish in a 15-minute period when he pulled through and cast a few lures with the hooks cut-off.
And then he sat back and waited, hoping that the weatherman would eventually deliver the right conditions to fish the area.
"That first day, it was just dead calm (on the reservoir) and you just don't catch them (there with those kind of conditions)," said Evers.
But things changed on Sunday as high clouds gathered and the wind began to blow soon after Evers left the Wolf Creek Park boat launch facility in Grove, Okla.
"Edwin said last night and this morning that things have to go absolutely perfect for him to have a chance," said Evers' wife, Tuesday, during a live Internet interview at mid-day on Sunday with the B.A.S.S. Live crew.
Part of that recipe of perfection in Evers' mind was the change in conditions.
"We've got a good weather change today," Evers told Tulsa-area television weatherman Dick Faurot in a pre-launch interview that was posted on the angler's Facebook page.
"And I needed that with Jason having the lead that he has, we needed to have something different (today)."
With his trademark grin on his face, Evers – a pecan farmer in his spare time – looked into the television camera and nearly called his homerun shot in Babe Ruth style.
BassFan.com’s “Scenes From The Water – Day 3” photo gallery.
"This is where you want to be, to be in the top-6 coming into the final day here at the Bassmaster Classic here on Grand Lake," he said.
"If I catch 22 pounds and Jason catches 16, I'm going to be right there in the hunt. I've just got to go catch all that I can possibly catch today."
Little did Evers know.
After powering his rig away from the boat launch, he eventually settled down in the Elk River area. As the roar of the motor died, Evers was quickly on the front deck, armed with two weapons in his final day quest for a major fishing miracle.
The first was some Biblical inspiration for the day as a number of Evers family members, friends and fellow church members watched from spectator boats.
"When I went out this morning, my wife (Tuesday) sent me a Bible verse, Philippians 4:13, which says I can do all things through God who strengthens me," said Evers. "It was fitting because I was up against a pretty big mountain."
The second weapon in Evers possession was a 5/16-ounce Andy's Custom Bass Lure jig, a bait that made all of the difference in the world on Sunday.
"It's a really cool jig," said Evers. "It's (made by) one of the few companies that still has the living round rubber (kind of skirts) and it's something that you have to have in that clear water situation."
Using that jig, Evers soon boated a 4-pound keeper. But he hardly quit there, catching a number of other bass at a furious pace during the mid-morning hours.
By the time his epic run was through, E-Squared, as he is called by many, had deposited the five biggest bass of the day into his livewell, a limit that included a 6-pound, 13-ounce giant.
When the bass catching flurry was over, Evers – who won two Elite Series events in 2015 – pointed his boat down lake and headed for the boat ramp to see what would happen during the final day weigh-in back in downtown Tulsa where well more than 20,000 spectators were waiting in the BOK Center.
As it turned out, the 42-year-old Evers found the miracle finish that he had been looking for.
When his five bass tipped Trip Weldon's scales to a stunning 29 pounds, 3 ounces, it was good enough to boost Evers' three-day tally to 60 pounds, 7 ounces.
"That's legendary right there, bro," said Aaron Martens, Evers' Major League Fishing counterpart and the defending B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year, as he vacated the Super Six hot seat and gave way to Evers' historic day.
Such a weight was more than enough for Evers to win the Classic title in his 15th try along with the event's $300,000 payday, a win that was more than 10 pounds to the clear of Christie who finished in second place.
Again, for the record, Christie's final weight of 50 pounds, 2 ounces would have won him the Classic but for Evers' heroics.
And what were those heroics? Evers' stunning bag was the biggest final day 5-fish limit in B.A.S.S. history, barely surpassing Alabama resident Randy Howell's 29-pound, 2-ounce bag limit (a furious rally in its own right that secured the 2014 Classic title for Howell on Lake Guntersville).
Evers' final day heavyweight bag on Sunday also boosted him past the 60-pound mark, a figure that stands as the fourth highest winning weight total in Classic history.
So what does all of this mean for Evers in particular and for the sport of bass fishing in general?
That Edwin Evers is simply the best angler on the planet right now, that's what.
When all of the B.A.S.S. heroics mentioned above are combined with Evers' two final day come-from-behind victories in Major League Fishing Challenge Cup competition (at Lake Istokpoga in Florida in 2012 and at Caddo Lake near Shreveport, Louisiana in 2014), there seems to be little doubt about how good Evers is as an angling pro.
And the fact that he's a certain bass fishing Hall of Fame candidate if he retired today.
But after his March 6 performance on Grand Lake, which boosted his career earnings in B.A.S.S. events to more than $2.7 million dollars and counting, Evers seems far from done.
In fact, he may just be entering his prime, a scary thought for the rest of his B.A.S.S. and Major League Fishing competitors.
"You know guys, it's something that I dream about every day and it's something that I think about throughout the entire year, to make it here," said Evers on Sunday night.
"I'm not lying about this, when I saw shooting stars as a kid, my dream was to win the Bassmaster Classic."
And now he has done just that, securing his spot in the history books and his status as the hottest fishing star in the world.
"I just don't know what else to say about it (all)," smiled Evers. "I'm just really happy."
And after one of the sport's greatest championship rounds ever, who wouldn't be?