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Kelly Bostian: Tragedy, triumph in Edwin Evers' New York event illustrates best of the outdoors

A veteran's heroism, a child's death and a professional angler's pursuit illustrate the worst and the best of life and fishing.

Evers marks history with win

With his win at the Evan Williams Bourbon Bassmaster Elite Series event on the St Lawrence River, Edwin Evers reached a pair of historic milestones. For one, he became the first angler in the history of the Elite Series to win back-to-back tournaments. In 87 events, it had never happened before, though a few anglers — notably Aaron Martens, Derek Remitz and Kevin VanDam — came close. For another, Evers claimed his 10th career B.A.S.S. victory, a double-digit milestone that only Kevin VanDam (with 20), Roland Martin (19), Denny Brauer (17), Rick Clunn (14) and Larry Nixon (13) have reached. Undeniably the most accomplished angler in B.A.S.S. history who has yet to win a major title (Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year or the GEICO Bassmaster Classic), in 2007 Evers became the youngest ever to earn $1 million in B.A.S.S. prize money (his record was broken by Casey Ashley earlier this year), and he's the only angler ever to win B.A.S.S. events with catches of all largemouth bass (several times), all smallmouth bass (Lake Erie in 2007 and the St. Lawrence River in 2015) and all spotted bass (Alabama River in 2013). But we're not talking about a guy who's fading into the sunset. At 40 years old, Evers is in his prime.
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Evers doubles down

Confidence means a lot to a tournament bass fisherman, and Oklahoma pro Edwin Evers said his was sagging a bit after a couple of tough events earlier this year. A win last month at BASSfest made Evers feel much better — and with a renewed sense of confidence, he went out and claimed his second victory in a row in this week’s Evan Williams Bourbon Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River. With a four-day total of 77 pounds, 10 ounces, Evers became the first angler to win back-to-back events in the 10-year history of the Elite Series. He cemented the victory with a Sunday catch of five smallmouth bass that weighed 17-8. Evers said the victory at BASSfest — and the automatic berth into the GEICO Bassmaster Classic that came with it — played a major role in his New York strategy. “Last time we were here, I went upriver every day,” said Evers, who chalked up his 10th career B.A.S.S. victory at Waddington. “But I didn’t think I could win there. I felt like this year coming back, everybody was going to try to go that way and get as close as they possibly could to where Brandon Palaniuk won the last time we were here (in 2013). So I went the other direction, and it was hard.” Evers said he fished extremely long days during practice, taking advantage of a northern sun that often stays out from 5 a.m. to almost 10 p.m. But despite the long hours, he only got seven bites the first day of practice, four the second day and seven the third day. He said he stuck with his decision, partly because his Classic berth is already in the bag. “It made it a lot easier to do what I did this week, because I was not getting many bites,” Evers said.
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E2 has W2 in sight

With several distinct patterns still in play and nine anglers within 6 pounds of the lead, the Evan Williams Bourbon Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River is setting up perfectly for a dramatic finish on Championship Sunday. Edwin Evers, who began Saturday’s semifinal round with a lead of more than 3 pounds, retained the top spot with a catch of 16 pounds, 6 ounces that pushed his three-day total to 60-2. But his cushion dwindled to less than 1 1/2 pounds, with Arizona pro Josh Bertrand (58-11), Texas angler Alton Jones (57-8), New Jersey pro Michael Iaconelli (57-0) and a suddenly red-hot Kevin Ledoux (56-5) of Oklahoma trailing close behind. Evers stayed on top despite some early-morning trouble with his batteries. “Last night, I set both chargers up at my boat — one for my trolling motor battery and one for my cranking battery,” Evers said. “I hooked up the trolling motor side, but I guess I didn’t hook the cranking side up. The batteries probably would have made it through the day, but everything was real slow.” The time it took to change the batteries didn’t hurt Evers nearly as much as missed opportunities with fish. “I lost a little bit of time, not much,” Evers said. “But while they were doing it, I lost a 5-pounder. That hurt me a lot more.” Evers catch of 16-6 was easily his lowest of the week and the first time in seven rounds of fishing — dating back to his victory last month at BASSfest on Kentucky Lake — that he’s failed to bring in at least 21-2. If he’s to become the first angler ever to win back-to-back events on the Bassmaster Elite Series, he believes he’ll need more weight Sunday. But between today’s round and the time he was able to spend practicing after he’d caught good limits Thursday and Friday, he believes he’s located the fish it’ll take to win.
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A special autograph

Edwin Evers' son signs autographs just before dad's big win.
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Evers Catches An 8, Becomes First To 50

Things can happen fast at Kentucky Lake. Whether it’s first thing in the morning on the first spot of the day or in the waning moments of the afternoon, there are periods of time where the fishing can be absolutely unrivaled. During these feeding frenzies, it’s not uncommon to hook fish on multiple casts in a row. While most competitors who’ve fished Kentucky Lake in the past say the schools aren’t as numerous or voluminous as they’ve been in previous years, there are still opportunities to get groups of fish fired up. Timing is a big part of the equation. Luck accounts for the rest. Tim Horton had two occasions today where he caught three fish within five casts. Brett Hite had a four-cast sequence that netted him four keepers this morning. Brandon Lester said he had 19 pounds in four casts this morning, including a double on a crankbait. Edwin Evers also had a memorable sequence this morning, capped off by an 8-pounder that catapulted him into the lead after 2 days of BASSFest. It anchored his 27-02 stringer that made him the only angler to crack the 50-pound mark at the halfway point. “I’m super-excited,” said Evers, who has 51-02 heading into the off day. “That 8-pounder was a blessing. That goes a long ways.” Read more: http://www.bassfan.com/news_article/7270/evers-catches-an-8-becomes-firs...
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Bidding to compete against Evers still open

BassFans can bid through Thursday for an opportunity to fish against Edwin Evers in a Healing Heroes in Action event set for May 28 at Oklahoma's Grand Lake. Evers and longtime sponsor Optima Batteries are choosing combat-wounded Purple Heart veterans through Wounded Warriors In Action to fish on Evers’ boat and compete in head-to-head fishing contests. A two-man challenger team for each event is selected by an online auction held on Evers’ Facebook page. Read more: http://www.bassfan.com/docktalk_article/14786/bidding-to-compete-against...
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Hooks and more hooks, part 1

When you get right down to it, we don't catch bass on lures or live baits. We catch them on hooks — single hooks, treble hooks, even double hooks. Without hooks, we simply don't catch bass. Which is why it's so surprising that otherwise good anglers don't put more emphasis on the hooks they use. For me and most of the Bassmaster Elite Series anglers, hooks are a big deal. If you’re an experienced bass angler, you know that you need to match the hook you're using with the application or method you’re fishing. Mismatched hooks are a sure way to lose fish — if you can even get them to bite. A lot goes into my choosing the right hook for the job, and I carry a lot of hooks with me when I fish a tournament. Few things are more frustrating than not having the right tool for the job, and hooks are among the most important tools an angler uses. Today's hooks are mostly a lot better than the hooks that were available on the market when I was just getting into fishing. Back then, every serious angler carried a hook hone or whetstone with him just to sharpen hooks as they were used throughout the day. Today's hooks are much sharper and much stronger than those of 20 or 30 years ago. In fact, they're so much sharper, that it usually makes more sense to throw away a dull hook than it does to try to sharpen it. If you take a premium hook out of the package today and run it over a hone a few times, you haven't sharpened it — you've dulled it! About the only time I try to sharpen a modern hook is when I've noticed something very minor that I think I can quickly and easily fix with just a couple of passes over the sharpening stone. Maybe I detect a burr or some little thing like that. If it's something more, the solution is simple. Throw that hook away and get a new one. Since today's hooks are almost all very sharp, it's usually other qualities I'm looking for when selecting a hook. One of the big factors is diameter. Basically, I want hooks that are thin and strong, but those two qualities are typically at the opposite ends of the spectrum from each other. Thin hooks are not the strongest, but they penetrate well on the hookset. Thick hooks are very strong, but it takes more to get good penetration. Generally, if I'm using light line or making long casts, I'm going to use a light, thin-diameter hook. If I'm using heavy line and fishing close, I can get away with a thicker, heavier hook. But there are exceptions to this general rule. Single hooks With soft plastic baits and jigs, we're generally using single hooks, and since most soft plastics don't come with hooks, it means we get to match the baits up with the hooks of our choice. No room for excuses here! I do a lot of pitching and flipping — close-range fishing with heavy line in heavy cover. For that kind of application, I want a really stout hook that won't bend or flex much. My choice is the Mustad Denny Brauer Grip Pin Max Flippin' Hook, and most of the time (about 90 percent), I'm using a 4/0 model. What I like about that hook is that it won't bend. A big reason for lost fish when flipping and pitching is that your hook "gives" just enough to pull free in heavy cover. It doesn't happen with this hook. Now I want to tell you something about my hook selection when flipping and pitching that may surprise you. When I'm pitching and punching heavy cover, I will drop down a size or two (my favorite size is 3/0) because the smaller hook will penetrate the cover better and is less likely to catch on something when I'm trying to pull a bass out of the mat. Most guys want the biggest hook they can get for this method, but not me.
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Day 4 with Evers

Edwin Evers started in third place on Day 4 of the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Havasu presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels event. And was looking for a big day to jump into the lead.
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