(Editor's note: In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, the top story will not be updated until Monday.)
By Todd Ceisner
The question hung in the air for all of a nanosecond before Edwin Evers swiftly delivered his response.
ďEdwin, you had another solid year in 2012. Would you say you accomplished the goals you had set for yourself?Ē was how the query went.
Without hesitation, without taking a moment to ponder a reply, Evers offered a stern, ďNo,Ē pausing for a moment before repeating himself. ďNo.Ē
It wasnít a rude exchange by any means Ė just a man letting it be known that until he achieves the goal he sets for himself at the start of every season, the answer to that question will always, and unequivocally, be, ďno.Ē
On paper, Evers had another stellar season fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series. While he made just one 12-cut in eight events, he lived in the top half of the standings all year, registering seven Top-40 finishes, which was good enough for 8th in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) standings. He qualified for the season-ending All-Star Championship where he finished 2nd for the second straight year.
It was the fifth time in his career heíd finished among the Top 8 in points and this yearís result followed back-to-back runner-up placements behind Kevin VanDam the last 2 seasons. Still, ďSteady EddieĒ entered the offseason lacking the achievement and trophy he so dearly covets Ė the AOY title. A strong argument can be made that heís the best angler currently on tour who hasnít hoisted the trophy and heís not about to let up until he does.
ďI felt like I had a solid year, but man, I have bigger goals and anything short of my goal is going to be a disappointment,Ē he said. ďI feel like Iím capable of winning it every year. Going into each year, I know Iím a good enough angler to win that thing and you canít let that thought go to rest and you canít feel satisfied until youíve accomplished what you think you should be doing.
ďI feel like I should be winning Angler of the Year, but I just havenít done it. I want to do it and Iím going to do it. I just havenít done it yet. It just goes to show how hard that thing really is to win. Itís the hardest thing in the world to win.Ē
Douglas A Downer
After sandwiching a 14th at the St. Johns River and a 4th-place finish at Bulls Shoals Lake around a 35th at Lake Okeechobee to open the season, Evers arrived at Douglas Lake in 4th place in points. By the time he left, he had dropped to 9th as a result of a 63rd-place effort, his worst finish since the Lake Ouachita FLW Tour in May 2010.
From there, he finished no lower than 38th in any of the four remaining events, but not being able to figure out the deep fish at Douglas still irks the Oklahoman.
ďIt was one of those events where I wouldíve given anything to know that long-lining was legal,Ē he said, referring to the technique used by winner Jeremy Starks and runner-up Britt Myers to max out the running depth of their crankbaits. ďIíve done a lot of strolling before on Lake Fork and Iím really comfortable doing it. Iíve had a blast with it and I saw those fish out there in that depth range and I tried to catch them on a football jig and a spoon, but in practice the majority of what I caught were smallmouth. Those were the only ones I could get to bite.
ďI knew there were largemouths out there and that whole strolling deal comes to your mind, but I didnít know it was legal. I read those rules in and out and I thought you couldnít assist the cast in any way. I just didnít think it was legal. Itís my own fault for not knowing it. It was just one of those tournaments that really bothered me not knowing that. I was frustrated at myself. It deflated me. It was a bad tournament. I hated it.Ē
Evers has lost count how many people around his Talala, Okla., home have installed him as the odds-on favorite to win the Bassmaster Classic in February at Grand Lake. While he appreciates the back slaps and confidence his community has shown in him, he knows itís not going to be easy.
ďPeople think Iím the favorite because Iím local and thatís fine,Ē he said. ďIíll try not to disappoint them, but Iím going to have to go out there and figure them out just like everybody else. ď
Fishing aside, he said itís going to be a thrill to have the bass-fishing world converge on his home state for such a big event.
ďIt feels kind of different,Ē he said. ďI was filling out the hotel packet even though I live 30 or 35 minutes from the hotel. If I forget something, itís not the end of the world. I was reading through it and it said, ĎAll the tackle you want in your boat and truck.í I started thinking how different this is going to be having this within an hour of my house. We just donít have many events like that.Ē
Evers wrapped up his Elite Series season with a runner-up finish at the All-Star Championship, then finished 5th at the Toyota Texas Bass Classic.
The challenge he faces, and the same will be true for fellow Oklahomans Tommy Biffle and Jason Christie, will be the additional demands on his time, whether it be from friends and family who rarely get to witness him compete in person or the local media or the floatilla of spectator boats thatís sure to trail him to every spot.
ďI feel like this oneís going to be harder for me to win than one thatís on the Red River or somewhere youíre not expected to win,Ē he said. ďAny time youíre fishing in front of a hometown crowd, thereís a lot of added pressure. Itís exciting from the aspect that so much family will be able to attend and friends that have never been able to attend before just because of the travel. And itís exciting that itís on a lake that Iíve spent time on, but not hardly any in February until last year. Itís just going to be cool to have the Classic here.
ďLetís just say it was going to be in Missouri on a lake where Iíd never been. To me, I think itís super cool as a guy from the Midwest to have the Classic that far west and that far north. Also, for a group of fans thatís never had the opportunity to drive 2 or 3 hours to make the Classic, thatís what we have. Weíre right here next to Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and you can be in Texas in less than 3 hours from Tulsa. I think itís going to be huge. Iíll be disappointed if theyíre not the biggest crowds weíve ever had.Ē
> While Evers enjoys deer hunting during the offseason, much of his spare time lately has been spent tending to his pecan orchard. Itís more than a hobby, though. This spring, he grafted 1,200 trees and in the next couple weeks, heís going to begin transplanting them.
ďMy dad told me a long time ago that something I should look into was pecans,Ē he said. ďAn auction came up a couple years ago by the house that had a big pecan orchard on it. It looked like great deer hunting ground so I looked into it for the possible income potential and man, ever since then Iíve gotten into studying it and researching it. Iíve read every book there is to read, it seems. Itís kind of like when you start bass fishing Ė you canít enough of it.Ē