“Man, you’ve got me,” Brent Chapman said to Edwin Evers.Evers was already in Sunday’s final-round hot seat of the Alabama River Charge presented by Star brite. Chapman, the leader for the two previous days, was the last of the 12 finalists to weigh in. He climbed the stage steps already knowing it was over for him.No one in the crowd under Montgomery’s historic Union Station Train Shed heard Chapman’s remark on stage. But that’s how Evers later told the story.“I didn’t realize until he said ‘you’ve got me’ that I had a chance,” Evers said after he’d hoisted the eighth trophy of his Bassmaster career and claimed his second regular-season Elite Series win. “I’m so happy. I can’t believe it.”Evers of Talala, Okla., got the best of Chapman by 1 pound, 12 ounces. Evers took home $100,000 and a win-you’re-in berth for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.He took over the Charge by weighing four limits of spotted bass for a total of 75-13. The Charge was the first time, Evers said, that he’d won on spotted bass alone. He also hit a career high by weighing 22 pounds, 6 ounces of spotted bass on Saturday, the largest sack of that species he’s ever caught.To win in Montgomery was special for another reason, he said. In the 2010 and 2011 postseason events out of Montgomery on the river, he ended up second to Kevin VanDam in the tournaments and in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year races.Evers began the tournament in fifth place, then rose into third place. After Day Three, heading into Championship Sunday, he was in second place, behind Chapman by 1-3.Evers said sticking to his game plan — and keeping a sweet spot in Cooter’s Pond in reserve until the final hours — “saved” him Sunday, when he weighed 17 pounds, 12 ounces.“I pulled up to that spot that I’ve been saving all week, and they were on fire,” Evers said.Evers said he ran more than 125 miles every day on the river system, hitting areas on the Coosa, Tallapoosa and in the canal that connects the Walter Bouldin Dam tailrace to the Alabama River.“I focused where the current made a direct hit on a vertical wall (bluff or cut in the bank) that was clean,” he said.The biggest challenges of the tournament were adapting to non-stop changes in the current and water level over the event’s four days. By Sunday with the dropping water, he had to relocate fish, finding them in slightly deeper water.Hook-ups with the strong spotted bass that live in the river systems were a big challenge, he added.“They’re so strong. They’re some of the hardest fish to hook. I’m flipping braid on a heavy-action rod and I’ll hit them as hard as I can, and it’s like I didn’t even touch them,” he said.His go-to lures were a War Eagle Spot Remover spinnerbait in a shad color, a Texas-rigged Zoom Z-Hog Jr., and various crankbaits. His flipping line was a Bass Pro Shops braid with a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader.Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., said he chalked up his second-place finish to being too conservative.“I didn’t run up to my best spot Sunday,” Chapman said. “I saw Steve Kennedy and David Walker go up, and I should have tried. You don’t get that many opportunities to win. I don’t know if I could have by going up there, but I would have felt a lot better finishing second if I’d at least have gone up there to fish my good spot.”His “good spot” was about 1/4 mile below Jordan Dam in the Coosa River. To reach it, he had to shoot the rapids over rocks. Chapman went up there other days, but decided he should not risk it Sunday after the water dropped 7 feet. Several other Elite pros ran the whitewater successfully in their bass boats during the Charge, but several tried and struck rocks, damaged their boats or got stuck, even in higher water.Evers’ win in the Charge helped him beef up his lead in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race. But instead of Kevin VanDam, now Skeet Reese is hot on Evers’ heals. The leader going into the Charge by just six points over VanDam, Evers now has a 25-point lead over Reese. VanDam trails Evers now by 37 points.“We’re a long way from the end, nobody’s out of this AOY thing yet,” Evers said. “I’m just trying to finish each event as high as I can.”
Photo GalleryDay Four with Edwin Evers
Entering the final day of competition on the Alabama River with a 1-pound, 3-ounce lead over his closest pursuer, reigning Toyota Angler Of the Year, Brent Chapman, knew that he had to turn in a strong performance in order to capture his second Elite Series title in as many years. It was little secret that Chapman had spent the majority of the tournament milking a small area below the Lake Jordan dam, making the treacherous run through boulders and whitewater each day to reach his spotted bass nirvana. With rapidly falling water on Saturday, Chapman was wary as to whether or not the area would hold out for another day. “I was hoping to have more of a cushion going into tomorrow, but it looks like Edwin is going to make things really tough on me,” stated Chapman at the conclusion of Saturday’s weigh-in. Evers did just that on Sunday, bringing in a limit of Coosa River spotted bass weighing 17-12 to push his four day total weight of 20 spotted bass to an impressive 75-13. For the first time all week, Chapman was unable to crack the 17-pound mark and settled with a limit weighing 14-13 to finish with 74-1 and fall 1-pound, 12-ounces short of Evers’ total. The Alabama River victory was Evers’ eighth career win with B.A.S.S. and his third Elite Series win, the others on the St. Johns River in 2011 and Lake Erie in 2007. Evers also maintained his lead in the Toyota Angler Of the Year race, earning the maximum of 100 TAOY points and stretching his lead to 25 points over Skeet Reese with three tournaments remaining in the 2013 Elite Series season. Alabama’s Steve Kennedy, who, like Chapman, also fished primarily below the Jordan Dam, finished in 3rd place with a total weight of 72-5, and Alton Jones finished in 4th with 71-8. Day One leader, John Murray, rounded out the top five with a total weight of 65-7.The 5 Final Day Facts from the Alabama River: Tournament: Bassmaster Elite Series (May 9-12)Location: Alabama River – Montgomery, Alabama Winner: Edwin Evers (17-15, 17-12, 22-6, 17-12: 75-13)2nd place weight: Brent Chapman (74-1)Total weight separating 1st place from 12th place: 23-13 1st Place: Edwin Evers (17-15, 17-12, 22-6, 17-12: 75-13)What was your primary pattern throughout the week on the Alabama River? “My morning area was in the canal leading to the Bouldin Dam, and I was keying in on vertical banks that were clean and had a little shelf in eight to 10 feet of water. It was really important the there wasn’t any grass or bushes under the water. If there was a little turn in the direction of the bank, it made the area even better. Basically, I was just looking for areas where the current made a direct hit on a vertical wall that was clean.“Along with fishing in the Bouldin Canal area, I also fished in the Coosa, Tallapoosa River, and Alabama River around the Cooters Pond area. The fish were right up on the bank earlier in the week, but they moved out deeper as the tournament progressed and the water dropped. “
Brent Chapman retained his lead today at the Alabama River Bassmaster Elite Series, but his advantage is much more precarious than it was a day ago due to a huge bag brought in by Angler of the Year (AOY) leader Edwin Evers.Chapman scaled a strong 18-03 to push his 3-day total to 59-04. But the 4 1/2-pound advantage he enjoyed after day 2 is now just 1-03 after Evers sacked 22-06 for a 58-01 aggregate.Making Chapman's reduced edge even more precarious, he'll be unable to return to the area just below the Jordan Dam on day 4 due to the constantly decreasing flow in the Coosa River. Meanwhile, Evers will have no such issues in the Bouldin Dam canal, where he's resided all week, unless some competitors in need of new water head his way.Steve Kennedy boxed a day-best 23-03 to move up six places to 3rd with 55-00. Alton Jones brought in 17-04 and fell two spots to 4th with 53-14.Bobby Lane held onto the No. 5 position he began the day with as his 16-13 bag gave him a 51-00 total.Here are the totals for the 12 anglers who'll compete on the final day, with red numbers in parentheses indicating deficit margin from the leader:1. Brent Chapman: 59-04 2. Edwin Evers: 58-01 (1-03) 3. Steve Kennedy: 55-00 (4-04) 4. Alton Jones: 53-14 (5-06) 5. Bobby Lane: 51-00 (8-04) 6. David Walker: 50-13 (8-07) 7. (tie) Skeet Reese: 47-00 (12-04) 7. (tie) Aaron Martens: 47-00 (12-04) 9. John Murray: 46-11 (12-09) 10. Tommy Biffle: 45-09 (13-11) 11. Paul Elias: 44-09 (14-11) 12. Randy Howell: 44-01 (15-03)The river continued to run hard today, but not nearly as swiftly as it had on the previous 2 days. Just a single flood gate on the Jordan Dam was open, compared to a dozen or more on days 1 and 2.The reduced current helped some competitors and hindered others. Kennedy, in particular, found the river's big spotted bass to be much more accessible in the narrowed channel.It's anyone's guess what'll occur on day 4 if the flow continues to drop – some feel it could cause the current-loving spotted bass to go off the bite. On the flip side, it could bring the river's largemouth population (which has been virtually ignored this week) to the forefront as those fish will be forced to return to places where anglers can reach them.Reese, the winner last week at Georgia's West Point Lake, moved up 19 places today with a 19-13 stringer. Other newcomers to the Top 12 were Martens (up 12 places with 18-12) and Biffle (up 11 with 17-10). That trio supplanted Scott Ashmore (7th to 16th, 9-07), Greg Vinson (10th to 24th, 9-08) and Davy Hite (11th to 15th, 10-11).PHOTO: B.A.S.S./GARY TRAMONTINAEdwin Evers' bag was about 4 1/2 pounds heaver than the ones he'd caught on days 1 and 2.Tomorrow's forecast for the Montgomery area predicts partly cloudy skies, a high temperature of 76 degrees and a north/northwest wind to 13 mph.Chapman Committed> Day 3: 5, 18-03 (15, 59-04)When Chapman heads north tomorrow morning, he knows he won't be able to get nearly as far up the Coosa as he's gone the past 3 days. Nonetheless, he's committed to going as far as possible."It's my best chance of winning," he said. "I've still got a lot of places I haven't fished, but the biggest ones I know of live up there. I know what I need to do in that river, so that's the plan."(The water level) was 4 or 5 feet down today, so who knows where it's going to be tomorrow. I'll just run as far as I can and then start fishing.He went through 12 keepers today and employed three different baits. He boated one that was just a little under 5 pounds and lost one that he estimated to be in the 4-pound class."The smallest one I weighed in was a 3-pounder, so that definitely hurt."2nd: Evers Bulks Up> Day 3: 5, 22-06 (15, 58-01)Evers had weighed just under 18 pounds on each of the first 2 days, but far exceeded that number today."I figured out another way to catch them today," he said. "I haven't caught a bass in the same place twice, but I'm power-fishing and doing what I like to do."I ought to be able to get to my fish tomorrow, but I'll have to go and catch them."He went through about a dozen keepers and the five he took to the scale all registered between 4 and 5 pounds."I've got three different areas I'm catching them from and I caught one that I weighed in on literally my last stop. They live here, so (another 20-plus pounds on day 4) is always a possibility."
WHAT: After watching 24 of the world’s best professional anglers compete in a unique tournament-style bass fishing competition this series, Edwin Evers reeled in the GEICO Challenge Cup Championship title last night on Outdoor Channel’s Jack Link’s Major League Fishing. The final six anglers who competed against Evers in Lake Istokpoga, Florida, included Brent Ehrler, Alton Jones, Ish Monroe, Takahiro Omori and Kevin VanDam.Evers, a Bassmaster Elite Series Pro from Talala, Oklahoma has received top placements in 37 tournaments across the country, including the Bassmaster Classic, Elite Series and Citgo Bassmaster tours. He takes home the GEICO Challenge Cup title after battling some of the world’s top professional anglers through periods of rising tensions and unexpected weather conditions all season.
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.