DECATUR, Ill. — The second annual Toyota Trucks All-Star Week is shaping up a lot like the first one ended, with Oklahoma’s Edwin Evers and Tennessee’s Ott DeFoe sitting atop the leaderboard.
After finishing second and first, respectively, at the inaugural All-Star Week in 2012, the two are poised to advance yet again. With one day to go before the 12-angler field is cut to the Top 4, Evers’ limit of five Lake Shelbyville bass weighing 13 pounds, 1 ounce looks like it will propel him to the semifinals with ease.
DeFoe, last year’s All-Star champion, is in second place with four bass weighing 11-3. No other angler has more than 7-7.
Evers was the only angler in the field to catch a limit in the first round. He caught a total of seven keepers, culling down to the tournament limit of five. He’s working two patterns — one that’s “fairly shallow” and another offshore. Though he’s in great shape to finish in the Top 4 and advance, he wasn’t ready to talk about the details of his methods just yet.
“I’m doing something that I don’t think anyone else is doing,” Evers said. “If I can catch five more keepers tomorrow that weigh 7 or 8 pounds, I’ll feel really good about my chances.”
Though DeFoe managed the second-best total of the day, he fell one short of a limit. Like Evers, he was predictably reserved in his comments, but did offer a few details. “I caught my three biggest bass in about a 15-minute span — all on the same bait — and I lost another in the same area. I’m fishing shallow, less than 5 feet deep.”
DeFoe believes that if he can catch two keepers of any size — about three pounds — he’ll be in good shape to advance to the semifinals.
Martens, in third place with 7-7, had a five-bass limit in the boat for part of the day, but released his smallest fish because he was concerned it might not quite reach 14 inches. He’d like to finish the two days on Shelbyville with 14 pounds.
“I thought things were going to be a little easier today,” Martens said. “They turned out to be a lot tougher, but I’m looking forward to going after them again tomorrow.”
Fan favorite and 2007 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Skeet Reese rounds out the Top 4 with two bass weighing 5-11.
Seven-time TTBAOY and four-time Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin VanDam boated just two keeper bass weighing 4-0. He’s in sixth place with some ground to make up if he hopes to advance.
“I only had two keepers, but I had a handful of shorts (fish measuring less than 14 inches), and I feel good about tomorrow,” VanDam said. “My day was all about timing. If I got to my spot when things were right and the bait was there, I caught some fish. If my timing was off, I didn’t. I probably covered three quarters of the lake three separate times.”
Following Friday’s competition round, the Top 4 anglers will advance to the Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship and be seeded for the semifinals, Sept. 22, on Lake Shelbyville. The top-ranked angler will compete head-to-head against the fourth-ranked angler, and the second-seeded angler will compete against the third-seeded angler.
The winners of these matchups will meet in the finals, Sept. 23, also on Lake Shelbyville. The winner will receive $60,000, and all competitors will earn prize money.
Highlights of Toyota Trucks All-Star Week:
Morning Takeoffs: Friday, 7:30 a.m. CT at Lake Shelbyville’s Eagle Creek State Park, RR 1, Findley, Ill. On Saturday and Sunday, the pros will be on Lake Decatur. They’ll launch at 8 a.m. CT from Nelson Park, 2203 E. Lakeshore Drive, Decatur, Ill. Fans are invited to watch the takeoffs; there is no admission charge.
Weigh-ins: 5-6 p.m. CT, Thursday-Sunday at Nelson Park, 2203 E. Lakeshore Drive, Decatur, Ill. There is no admission charge to the weigh-ins.
Bassmaster High School Elite Experience — On Saturday, students in grades 9 through 12 will be offered a behind-the-scenes look at an Elite Series bass tournament. Students can register for the free event that begins at 8:45 a.m. CT by contacting Jon Stewart at email@example.com or by calling 205-313-0900.
Hope for the Warriors — All-Star pros eliminated on Friday will act as fishing guides and tournament partners Saturday for six wounded military veterans from the organization, Hope for the Warriors. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families and the families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.
Decatur Lakefest — This four-day live music festival, happening at the same time as All-Star Week, features three stages. Headliners include Bush Hawg, a popular performer at many Elite events, and Dustin Lynch, a Top 12 Country star expected to perform his hit single “Cowboys and Angels.” Bush Hawg will perform at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Bassmaster venue in Nelson Park.
College B.A.S.S. Bash — In the spirit of the successful Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, eight teams from Illinois colleges will compete Sunday on Lake Shelbyville in a bragging-rights event. The students will weigh-in at 5 p.m. Sunday on the Bassmaster stage just before the two All-Star finalists appear with their catches. Among the schools fielding teams will be the University of Illinois, Northern Illinois University, North Western Illinois, Eastern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Illinois State University and Western Illinois University.
Bassmaster Elite Series Expo: Saturday and Sunday in Decatur’s Nelson Park beginning at noon, fishing fans can check out some of the latest in fishing and boating equipment, purchase B.A.S.S. branded merchandise, have fun at official Bassmaster Elite Series sponsor booths, and more. There’s no admission charge.
The local sponsor of Toyota Trucks All-Star Week is the Decatur Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (http://www.decaturcvb.com/).
2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, MinnKota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha.
2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: BOOYAH, Carhartt, Lowrance, Luck “E” Strike, Power-Pole, Ramada.
2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Proud Partner: Mustang Survival