By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor


Edwin Evers' ultimate goal this year as it is every year is to win the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year award. There's no better way to progress toward that objective than by winning tournaments.

He collected his fifth career tour-level victory and extended his edge in the points race Sunday when he outlasted the field at the Alabama River Bassmaster Elite Series. The derby, which was the fifth on the eight-event schedule, was an especially challenging one as extremely high water that receded over the course of the event continually opened up new options while closing down others.

Evers was in a tie for 4th place with Bobby Lane after day 1, then moved up one spot each day until he finally reached the top with a 17-12 stringer on day 4. He edged runner-up Brent Chapman, the reigning AOY who'd led the middle 2 days, by 1-12.

Below are some details of how his week transpired.

Practice

Evers, who'd come close to winning at the Alabama on several occasions in the past but had been unable to close the deal, began the 3-day practice period by traveling up the Coosa River to the Bouldin Dam Canal. He'd never turned a prop in that ditch previously, but knew it had been extremely productive in a 2003 Bassmaster Tour event won by Kenyon Hill (Chapman was 2nd and Evers 3rd).

The canal runs for 3 miles or more, never getting more than about 50 yards wide. He found the portion closest to the river to be the most productive.

"The fish were on clean banks, with smooth clay or rock, in about 6 to 8 feet of water," he said. "My electronics were big I was able to find some isolated rocks and some little shelves that stuck out."

He went in the opposite direction (south of the launch site in Montgomery, Ala.) on the second practice day, and then back up north on the final day.

"I was able to find a few other things. Overall, my practice was decent, but not great."

Competition

> Day 1: 5, 17-15
> Day 2: 5, 17-12
> Day 3: 5, 22-06
> Day 4: 5, 17-12
> Total = 20, 75-13

Evers came within ounces of the 18-pound mark on each of the first 2 days to put himself in the thick of things at the midway point. There was a critical juncture on day 1, however, when he nearly abandoned the canal.

"When I was running to where I was going to start, I noticed how much faster my boat was going, which meant there was a lot less current coming the other way," he said. "I fished one little stretch and didn't get a bite, and I told my marshal to get ready to move to another place.

"Coming back out of the canal, I decided to make one more stop. I caught 18 pounds on six flips."

Day 2 was considerably slower, but his bag ended up being just 3 ounces lighter.

"I caught some real nice ones, but it just took a little longer," he said. "I caught some fish that afternoon that really helped."

The current (and thus the water level) had dropped considerably by the time day 3 got under way, but it was another day on which he loaded up in a hurry. The sack he weighed that day was third-best of the tournament behind Chapman's 23-05 on day 1 and Steve Kennedy's 23-03 on day 3.

"I had 22 pounds in 30 minutes. I started catching them on a crankbait that day they'd moved a little deeper than they were when I was flipping.

"I pulled out by 9:30 or 10 o'clock and I went and found another group of fish that helped me on the last day."

He caught one quality fish on the crankbait and flipped up a couple more early on the final day, and then pulled out and fished several locales in the time that remained. He got one weigh-in fish from the river on a spinnerbait, then had a late-day flurry from a place he'd been saving in Cooter's Pond that produced his final two.

Gear Notes

> Flipping gear: 7' heavy action Bass Pro Shops CarbonLite rod, Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series casting reel (7:1 ratio), 50-pound Magibraid braided line, 2 1/2' Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon leader, unnamed 1/2-ounce tungsten weight, unnamed 4/0 straight-shank hook, Zoom Z-Hog Jr. (California 420).

> Cranking gear: 7 1/2' medium-action Bass Pro Shops cranking rod, Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier casting reel (6.4:1 ratio), 12-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon line, unnamed medium-diving crankbait (shad).

> Spinnerbait gear: 7' heavy-action Bass Pro Shops CarbonLite rod, Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier casting reel (6.4:1 ratio), 20-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon line, 3/4-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait (spot remover).

The Bottom Line

> Main factor in his success "Saving those fish in Cooter's Pond."

> Performance edge "The Optima batteries were huge in current that strong and my Nitro boat holds 66 gallons of gas so I could run anywhere I wanted to. I could go all the way up the river, then all the way down, then up and down again."

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