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Conroe and the Classic record book

Tied record: Most Classic titles in field (12)

2017 Classic: Everything will be bigger

I’ll admit it. I rooted for the Patriots to beat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI held in Houston, Texas. I’m pretty sure I was the only person in the state of Alabama not cheering for the Falcons. After all, Atlanta’s Julio Jones (who I suspect to be a mutant with superpowers) was a former University of Alabama standout receiver, and is an avid bass angler. Still, I wanted to see history made. The fact that Tom Brady had the opportunity to win a record five championship rings as a starting quarterback was something I wanted to witness. It would be like watching Wilt Chamberlain score 100 points against the New York Knicks in 1962. Or like watching Nolan Ryan throw his seventh no-hitter. I wanted to say, “Yep, I watched that game!” Not only did Brady throw his way into the record books, but the game also was the first NFL championship to go into overtime. Houston was indeed historic. Well, in a few weeks, I believe the same sort of history will be made, again in Houston. Full disclosure: I am from Texas. And yes, we Texans are a proud lot, wont to believe that everything is bigger and better in the Lone Star State. But that is precisely why I think the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in Houston (Lake Conroe) March 24-26 will break every attendance record kept for the world championship. Texans simply will not allow another state to claim the title of “most avid fishing fans.”

Edwin Evers on Targeting Smallmouth Bass Wolf Packs

For two-time Jack Links Major League Fishing champion Edwin Evers, there's nothing quite like hunting down a big-ole bass.

Unless, that is, he's hunting down a wad of big-ole bass, the kind of scale-busters that can win him a championship event like the 2013 MLF Challenge Cup in Istokpoga, Fla. and the 2015 MLF Challenge Cup in Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana.

Or the 2016 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake in northeastern Oklahoma, for that matter.

But as impressive as those signature wins have been in the career of Double E, they all came on the backs of largemouth bass, the predominant fish in those particular fisheries.

In northern Minnesota at the 2017 MLF Summit Cup, smallmouth bass undoubtedly play a pivotal role in who wins, perhaps even the renowned wolf packs of bass that the North Country is known for.

What's a wolf pack? In short, it's a huge group - a bronzeback gang, if you will - that roams around terrorizing local baitfish populations.

"Lots of them," said Evers. "That's what a wolf pack is, where there is lots of them."

GoPro: Edwin Evers previews Lake Texoma

Elite Series angler Edwin Evers gives a closer look at Lake Texoma's current condition.

Classic champion Edwin Evers partners with OPTIMA Batteries for Healing Heroes in Action Tour

The 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic champion Edwin Evers is teaming up once again with OPTIMA Batteries and a new partner, B.A.S.S., with live coverage on Bassmaster.com, to give deserving Purple Heart veterans a once-in-a-lifetime fishing experience in the OPTIMA Batteries Healing Heroes in Action Tour presented by General Tire.

Now in its second year, the Healing Heroes in Action Tour supports the Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation, a national non-profit organization dedicated to serving the nation’s combat-wounded Purple Heart veterans through outdoor sporting activities.

“After a successful inaugural year, we’re honored to again bring these incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experiences to veterans and fans nationwide in a way only OPTIMA Batteries can,” said Cam Douglass, director of marketing for OPTIMA Batteries. “The addition of new partners and sponsors, as well as our longstanding relationship with Edwin, only help extend the impact this program has on the lives of deserving veterans as well as the foundation.”

The tour is set to raise funds through a Facebook auction on Evers’ page, where fans can bid for a chance to fish against Evers and a Purple Heart veteran in one of four events across America. All money raised goes directly to the Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation.

The 2015 tour raised more than $12,000 for the Foundation through five local events, but new partnerships with B.A.S.S. and presenting sponsor General Tire bring the tour to a national audience via livestream and extended coverage on Bassmaster.com.

Texas police officer wins fish with Edwin Evers Sweepstakes

Mike Shurley, a police officer from Diboll, Texas, will get to share a boat with the reigning Bassmaster Classic champion next month as the winner of the Fish with Edwin Evers Sweepstakes.

“I still can’t believe this happened to me,” said Shurley. “If it weren’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have much luck at all! But then I won this!”

Shurley doesn’t enter many contests, and he only buys a few lotto tickets when the pot gets really high. But this particular sweepstakes attracted him.

“Edwin Evers just seems like a genuinely nice guy,” said Shurley, “and after I entered the first time, it literally took me 30 seconds to do it every other time. I did it almost every day, but I was never really expecting to win. I just figured, why not enter?”

Then, when he got the email saying he had won, he thought it was a trick.

“As a police officer, I’m naturally skeptical of everything,” he said. “I figured it was just a way for somebody to try to sell me something. I called the number and the first thing I asked was, ‘Is this legit?’ And it was.”

Meeting, greeting and giving back

It’s been a while since my last column. I don’t like to go so long between columns, but with the Elite Series season and a lot of new demands on my time since the GEICO Bassmaster Classic, I’ve been busier than ever before in my angling career. It’s one of those “good” problems, I suppose.

Maybe I should start by saying that winning the Classic has been everything it’s cracked up to be. I’ve really enjoyed my time as champion and look forward to every chance I have to get out on the road, meet fishing fans and support my sponsors. I realize that all the extra attention isn’t for everyone, and the additional demands can be overwhelming at times, but winning was a big goal for me professionally, and I’m looking forward to being the best champion I can be.

I suppose the biggest difference between my life and career before the 2016 Classic and since that time is that more people recognize me than ever before. The Classic offers such a giant stage and intense spotlight that a lot of very casual fans take notice. Even at church, people who probably never knew I was a professional angler are coming up to congratulate me and talk fishing. On the road, I’m getting stopped at gas stations and boat ramps more than ever before.

Congratulations, Rick!

One of my heroes just won the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on the St. Johns River. Rick Clunn earned his 15th career B.A.S.S. win, a total that includes four Bassmaster Classics.

When I was young and just getting into the sport, numbers like that really impressed me ⎯ they still do in a way ⎯ but the things that I admire most about Rick have nothing to do with his many trophies and everything to do with the way he carries himself on and off the water.

It’s true that I’ve learned a tremendous amount from watching Rick Clunn on television and in videos and by reading about his methods and theories, but I’ve learned even more by watching him with fans, fellow competitors and sponsors.

His loyalty to sponsors is well known among the pros. His respect for the fans is evident everywhere he sees and talks with them. I’ve learned at least as much from Rick when he didn’t have a rod and reel in his hands as when he did.

Another of the things I really admire about Rick is that you know where you stand with the man. There’s nothing false about him. He speaks the truth irrespective of how it might come across, and he treats people with respect.

E-squared away

TULSA, OK — For the first two days of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro, the buzz centered around local sensation Jason Christie of nearby Park Hill, Okla.

But on the final day, another of Oklahoma’s favorite sons stole the show.

Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., caught an incredible 29 pounds, 3 ounces of bass from Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees Sunday to push his three-day total weight to 60-7. The epic finish was enough to help him storm past Christie and the rest of the Classic field to earn a $300,000 payday and a spot in professional bass fishing history.

The win was Evers’ 11th with B.A.S.S., but his first time to raise the Classic trophy.

“It hasn’t quite hit me yet,” said Evers, who was fishing his 15th Classic. “I don’t know when it will. But I know 29 pounds on the last day of the Classic is big.”

Evers certainly didn’t seem like he was ready to win a Classic championship earlier in the week.

He spent most of Friday’s first round fishing shallow rocks with a crankbait. The pattern had worked well for him before competition began, but he believes it was zapped by the changing conditions.

He brought in only four fish that weighed 13-12.

“That pattern was really strong in practice, but it was going away,” Evers said. “The water was warming, and it just was not happening. I knew I had to do something different, and I feel like I made a really good decision that second day.”

Evers practiced what he called “damage control” during Saturday’s second round by making a long run up the Neosho River. He used a spinnerbait and a flipping stick to catch 17-8 and vault himself into third place.

“You could have a hundred Classics on Grand, and 99 times out of a hundred it wouldn’t be won with what I did the second day. It just helped me get back in it, as tough as things were.”

One factor that made things so tough the first two days was the lack of wind on Grand Lake. With the water calm and flat, bass hanging out in the shallows were skittish and reluctant to bite.

The conditions were so calm, in fact, that Evers neglected to go to a spot in the Elk River where he had caught some big fish on windy days in practice. But with strong winds blowing Sunday, he decided to make the run to the Elk and see if he could start his day with a big fish.

He did — and then he added four more big ones to bring in a five-bass limit that ranked as the heaviest of the three-day event by almost 9 pounds.

“I went in there just to try and get a couple of big bites,” Evers said. “I caught a couple of 7-pounders there in practice. But it was real windy and blowing when I caught those fish, and it had to be that way to catch them in there.”

Mother Nature toyed with him a little early, but the conditions eventually played right into his hands.

“When I got in there and the wind wasn’t blowing, I was getting antsy,” Evers said. “Then I caught one of those big ones, and it just settled me down. I knew I could make something happen in there.

“I still wasn’t expecting to catch 29 pounds, but it all worked out.”

The magic bait for Evers on his magic day was a 5/16-ounce jig that he helped design for Andy’s Custom Bass Lures. It was green, brown and orange, but he said the material used to build the bait was the most important element.

“Andy is one of the few guys where you can still buy that old flat brown rubber,” Evers said. “In clear water, that’s the deal.”

While parts of Grand Lake were heavily stained this week, Evers found crystal-clear water in the Elk River.

“I was focusing on a flat that the current was hitting really hard,” Evers said. “It’s a flat with water coming over the top of it, and it has all types of laydowns. The water was so clear I could see the fish in there.”

Evers is the third straight angler to win the Classic in his home state, following South Carolina angler Casey Ashley’s win last year on Lake Hartwell and Alabamian Randy Howell’s victory in 2014 on Lake Guntersville.

For much of the week, it seemed like Christie would be the Oklahoma angler to hold that distinction. But after landing five-bass limits that weighed 20-14 and 16-11 the first two days, he managed only four fish that weighed 12-9.

Christie caught all of his fish using a heavy spinnerbait with a swimbait trailer.
“All of the rain we had during the winter really made this tournament interesting,” Christie said. “I would love to have gone out there and thrown a Rogue (jerkbait) the whole time. That’s what I prepared for in December.

“But that’s what the Classic is all about — changing conditions. It’s a tough tournament to win.”

Marty Robinson of Lyman, S.C., earned the GoPro Big Bass Award of $1,000 for his Day 1 bass weighing 7 pounds.

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