Last period momentum swings and competitive drama highlight the Championship Round of the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2013 GEICO Challenge Cup from Florida’s Lake Istokpoga, which begins airing Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on Outdoor Channel, America’s Leader in Outdoor TV.“The Championship Round on Istokpoga is a day I’ll never forget. It started slow, because Hurricane Sandy had just passed the lake, and it left our designated competition zone in almost unfishable shape,” said Major League Fishing Commissioner Don Rucks.“As the day wore on, we made an executive decision that made for more competitive and exciting fishing. The momentum swings near the end of the day were nothing short of crazy.”Kevin VanDam, Alton Jones, Edwin Evers, Ish Monroe, Takahiro Omori and Brent Ehrler compete for the title.Challenge Cup coverage airs six times per week on Outdoor Channel throughout the second quarter of 2013. For air times, please check here.
In golf, the sports talking heads and former player analysts often label a promising pro as "the best to never win a major."As in best to never win the sport's biggest titles - the Majors - that include the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA Championship.Phil Mickelson once wore that label. Ditto for Bubba Watson. And until recently, so did Adam Scott.Believe it or not, bass fishing has its own version of that statement, as in best to never win a Bassmaster Classic, best to never win a Forest Wood Cup, and best to never win a B.A.S.S. or FLW Angler of the Year title.Not to mention best to never win a Jack Link’s Major League Fishing championship.With a win on blustery Lake Istokpoga, one of the most successful professional bass anglers of modern times - Oklahoma's Edwin Evers - could find his way to resume redemption and shed once and for all the fishing version of "best to never win a major."Such are the stakes during the Championship Round of the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2013 GEICO Challenge Cup just outside of Lake Placid as Hurricane Sandy begins to pull away after several days of battering Florida.Good riddance says Evers as he takes aim at the MLF crown."It has been brutal," said Evers in a half-hearted chuckle before the morning's take-off. "There's no doubt about it, it doesn't get any worse as far as wind conditions on a Florida lake."People talk about wind and if you're on Table Rock, it's what you want. But here, it's just so shallow and if you have this much wind, it just stirs up all of the bottom sediment. And it really makes for tough fishing."Especially during Sudden Death Day Two when Evers became one of three anglers to advance to the championship despite the passage of Sandy just off of Florida's Atlantic coastline.While the day featured a mixture of wind and sun, it also featured numerous outer bands that would rotate through with blinding rain, howling winds of more than 40 mph, and crashing waves that forced some anglers to fish from their knees as Sandy pounded Istokpoga.Somehow, Evers found a way through and now stands poised for his career's biggest triumph."It might not have been the toughest (day) ever (that I've fished), but it was definitely right on up there," said Evers.And that's just the physical conditions that Evers endured as the nearby hurricane made her presence widely known.That's to say nothing of the mental anguish of being in a tight race in the third period on a tough fishing day with all of his other MLF competitors making their casts virtually within sight of Evers bouncing boat."Whew - man it was tight!," laughed Evers, known as Easy E, E2, and E-Squared to his many fans. "It was nerve wracking to say the least."Especially as one of Sandy's final bands pummeled the watery playing field as time began to slip through the hour glass on the day's competition."It wasn't a fun experience sitting there on that boat (in the weather) as the period wound down," agreed Evers. "I would like to have had a few more pounds to have been a little bit more in command or to have had a (bigger) lead."But I ended up making it (through) and we all go back to zero today and I'm tied for first (place) right now."Where Evers - a pro with seven B.A.S.S. wins, some $1.9 million in career earnings, 12 Bassmaster Classic appearances, and 52 Top-10 finishes in 172 events - hopes to be when the action on Istokpoga is all over.
We're halfway through the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series and, as always, there have been some surprises. No two seasons are quite alike, and it's a good time to take a look at what's making 2013 unique.MacroLet's start with the bigger picture — the tournaments as a whole, rather than the individual anglers.British philosopher Thomas Hobbes once famously described the natural state of mankind as "solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short." I'm not sure I'd want to tag along with Hobbes on an extended road trip, but his quote goes a long way to describing the fishing so far this year. The weather has been spotty or worse, the fishing has been way below average for Elite events, and the fish (except for the tournament on Falcon Lake) have been small (and even on Falcon they were a little disappointing).Things started out rough at the Sabine River, perhaps the most difficult event in Elite history. To describe the fishing as subpar would do "subpar" a disservice. Bass on the Sabine were few and far between, and when they did appear, they were small.Things got dramatically better at Falcon Lake, site of so many records in 2008. Falcon didn't provide any records this time, but it did produce three catches of over 100 pounds and an average bass weight of better than 4 pounds.Bull Shoals was next. In 2012, the fish were small, but plentiful. This year, they were just small. A brutal cold front brought lightning and chilly temperatures that postponed the tournament and kept catch rates down. Big fish were conspicuous in their absence.Finally, at West Point, the trend of tough fishing and small bass continued, reaching record-setting proportions. The average bass brought to the scales weighed just 1.73 pounds — Elite petite.The second half promises to be more of the same — at least as far as bass weights go. The Alabama River is certainly not going to step things up in the lunker department. Ditto for the Mississippi. The St. Lawrence River and Lake St. Clair could impress, but probably not enough to keep this from being the Elite season with the lowest average bass weight.
Kevin VanDam, Skeet Reese and Edwin Evers battling for Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year? Seems like old times! With the Elite Series headed to Montgomery, Ala., B.A.S.S.’s ancestral home, it seems fitting to re-ignite a hot rivalry from the Elite Series’ recent history. Keep some past finishes on your mind when choosing your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team this week.Bucket A: Skeet vs. KVD vs. E2In terms of momentum, motivation and merit, few anglers might appear more of a Fantasy Fishing lock than does eternal bridesmaid Edwin Evers this week: Not only is he leading the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, his history on the Alabama River includes four runner-up finishes.It should be noted, however, that none of those finishes came against a full field, and only one came in the postspawn. Two were in 12-man postseason events (July and September) to determine AOY; one was in a 12-man seeded match-play format in July. The fourth came in a late-May Bassmaster Elite 50 tournament, a pre-Elite Series event featuring a field of 50 anglers. Elite Series fields feature 100 anglers.Still, Evers excels on most rivers south of the Mason-Dixon Line, no matter how big the field and no matter what the time of year. His resume includes Top 10s on the Red (fifth and eighth in Classics held in February) and Ouachita rivers (fifth and fourth in November and December); and Top 25s on the Arkansas (18th and 25th in June and August), Ohio/Cumberland/Tennessee (13th in June) rivers. And that’s not even counting tidal river systems, like St. Johns and Sabine, on which he’s also fared well.Most weeks, such impressive stats would make Evers a lock. This isn’t most weeks, however. Evers’ Day Three stumble last week on West Point and Reese’s win there has set up a showdown that will likely overshadow Evers’ redemption shot: “Skeet v. KVD Part 3: This Time It’s Personal.”
LAGRANGE, Ga. — The most impressive aspect of Sunday's final day was the big crowd that showed up in the mud at Pyne Road Park. For the first time in four days, the sun was shining during the Bassmaster Elite Series West Point Lake Battle.But when yet another downpour erupted during the weigh-in, no one moved. And when Skeet Reese brought 15 pounds, 4 ounces to the scales, then took his place on the "hot seat" as the tournament's leader, he didn't hesitate to assume that spot on an uncovered section of the stage."If these people are going to stick around in this (weather), I don't mind," said Reese, and instantly became the crowd favorite.Six of the final 12 remained backstage, and all had come into the day with a higher three-day total that Reese. The pouring rain just added to the drama.When the popular 43-year-old Reese withstood those final challenges and was awarded the trophy, it seemed he'd doubly paid his dues, for both sitting in the rain and enduring a three-year wait between Elite Series victories.Fittingly, the sun came out again before Reese was handed the trophy. He finished with a four-day total of 44 pounds, 6 ounces, exactly 2 pounds more than second-place Aaron Martens."It feels real good," Reese said. "I honestly didn't know if I could catch a fish out here – every day."And that's just it – nobody figured out any kind of consistent fish-catching pattern on this 26,000-acre Chattahoochie River impoundment located on the Georgia-Alabama border."My best advice is, if you catch 'em in one spot one day, don't go back there the next," said Todd Faircloth, who finished fifth with 39-1. Faircloth weighed 15-9 Saturday to make the Top 12 cut, then managed only four bass weighing 7-0 Sunday.
The Professional Anglers Association is pleased to announce the fourth and final event for the 2013 Bass Pro Shops PAA Tournament Series will be on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in Grove, Oklahoma. The event will take place the week of November 4 -10, 2013. Grand Lake Association will be our host for this fourth and final qualifying event for the 2014 Toyota Texas Bass Classic (TTBC) world championship.“We are thrilled that the prestigious PAA will be coming to Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees and the new Wolf Creek Park Facility. This event will bring more professional anglers and continued nationwide notoriety to the region,” said Tad Jones, Executive Director of the Grand Lake Association.PAA President Dave Mansue said, “The PAA is excited to be heading back to Oklahoma for our first ever event on Grand Lake. Known for its outstanding bass fishery, we could not ask for a better venue than Grand Lake to decide the final 15 anglers who will represent the PAA at the 2014 Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Lake Fork. The City of Grove and Grand River Dam Authority have built a state of the art facility at Wolf Creek Park and Boating Facility. We expect some great crowds to turn out to see their favorite PAA, Bassmaster Elite Series and FLW Tour anglers competing there in November.”The Grand Lake event will be a slight departure from the three (3) previous 2013 Bass Pro Shops PAA Tournament Series events. Due to a scheduling conflict at the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma Bass Pro Shops store, the competition days for this event will be on Friday, November 8 through Sunday, November 10.Official practice for this event will be held Monday, November 4th thru Wednesday, November 6th with an off day on Thursday, November 7th for pre-tournament activities to be held at the Broken Arrow, Okla. Bass Pro Shops store locationA full field of pro anglers will fish on Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th. The top 15 pros will fish on Sunday, November 10th.For co-anglers, the full field will fish both Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th with the champion to be crowned on Saturday, November 9th following the weigh-in at Wolfe Creek Park.“Many of you know PAA anglers are qualifying for two (2) Toyota Texas Bass Classic world championships this year.
Keep in mind for your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team that it’s going to be all about the spawn this week on West Point Lake — more likely the shad spawn than the black bass spawn, however.Although a late spring has knocked back the bass spawn by a couple weeks, La Grange, Ga., is far enough south that West Point’s largemouth and spotted bass will likely be trending postspawn when the Elite Series pros begin competition May 2.That should be right about the time that this lowland reservoir’s gizzard shad population begins to spawn. If that happens, expect to see pros slinging topwaters on the gravel points, riprap banks, clay bottoms and other hard structure over which shad drop their eggs.The topwater spawning shad bite is a low-light, here-today-gone-tomorrow bite, so B and C plans will be equally important. Thanks to a recently full moon, some spawning fish will surely be available to sight fishermen, but beds alone will not likely account for the winning bags.Other patterns likely to be successful are cranking and football-jigging gravel points; light-line finesse tactics over and around submerged wood, brush and rock; and flipping shallow wood (which is prevalent) and flooded vegetation. The availability of shoreline vegetation to flip will be determined by lake level, always an unknown on reservoirs because of weather and power-generation schedules. West Point does not feature much aquatic vegetation, so there’s only shallow grass if the water rises to flood the lake’s shoreline buffer vegetation. As of Monday morning, the lake was 0.36 feet above full pool.One thing’s for certain: Anglers will be burning a lot of gas, running multiple patterns as conditions change. Overcast skies will likely keep anglers shallow longer. High bluebird skies will likely pull anglers off the morning topwater bite and out to deeper cover sooner.So, what does that mean to Fantasy Fishing players? Load your roster with versatile anglers that excel at fishing fast, chasing shad and adapting to changing postspawn conditions. Such anglers will likely have had prior success in late April, early May tournaments on other Chattahoochee River impoundments, so we’ll review angler histories. You can listen to my podcast here:Podcast Powered By PodbeanBucket AWith other anglers getting all the headlines lately, the time is ripe for a classic KVD game-changing move. With less than 30 percent of players picking him this week, VanDam’s as close as he can be to flying under the radar. He finished seventh here in 2011, and he fared well also in two other springtime events on Chattahoochee River reservoirs. On Clarks Hill, he placed fourth in early May 2008 and 12th in early March 2005. On Eufaula, he placed 20th in early March 2004.Considering his 2011 runner-up finish here and a third place on Clarks Hill in 2008, Edwin Evers (16.9 percent) is likely to finish high again. Add in the momentum of leading the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race and you can make a good case to pick him. On the other hand, he finished 95th and 75th on Clarks Hill in May of 2006 and 2004.
LAGRANGE, Ga. — Talk about a battle.Bassmaster Elite Series pros will be fighting for a major title, $100,000 and a 2014 Bassmaster Classic berth when the Elite Series returns May 2-5 to LaGrange, Ga., for the West Point Lake Battle.The event also promises some rod-to-rod combat in the ongoing Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year competition.Four pros now in direct contention for the 2013 AOY title were Top 12 finishers the last time the Elite field was at West Point Lake. That puts the pressure on for finishes that were just as good as, or better than, what they turned in two years ago at West Point Lake in May 2011.One of those four pros is the current leader in the points race, Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla. He finished second in 2011 at West Point. Ish Monroe of Hughson, Calif., sitting in fourth in the points standings, was third at that 2011 event. Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., third in AOY points, was seventh at West Point. Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., 10th in the AOY standings, ended in eighth place at the 2011 version of the West Point Battle.Not to say that West Point defending champ Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., won’t put up a fight to claim double titles on the lake where he cut his fishing teeth as a kid.Kennedy was victorious in 2011 with 64 pounds, 14 ounces. His winning margin was 2 pounds, 1 ounce over Evers, who had led the first two days, but dropped behind after losing a bass.Evers is ready to do battle.
Edwin Evers (25th, 35-15)
As the ice melts and water warms up, bass begin to enter into their pre-spawn, spawn, and post spawn stages. These stages are especially acute and short in northern latitudes where water temperatures change quickly in March through to the end of May.Earlier this year, Bassmaster Elite, Edwin Evers, spoke about cold water bass strategy with the AnglingAuthority.com team. We want to share key tips Edwin had for anglers when fishing deep jerk baits.