DETROIT — Edwin Evers readily admits he will vary from his usual go-for-broke style this week in the final event of the Bassmaster Elite Series season. Even though that style has led him to a 30-point lead in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings, there's a time to take chances and there's a time to play safe.
"I would have probably started (the three-day practice period) at Lake Erie, if I wasn't in the position I'm in," Evers said at the anglers meeting Wednesday, on the eve of the four-day Plano Championship Chase. "But being in the position I'm in, I've focused all three days at Lake St. Clair.
"I'm trying to make the most of my fishing time. I feel like I can do what I need to do in St. Clair."
What Evers needs to do is avoid catastrophe. With 594 AOY points, he's 30 points up on his nearest competitor, Aaron Martens. Kevin VanDam is in third place – 39 points back.
"It's not done yet," said Evers, who has finished second in the AOY race twice, but never won it. "There's a lot of fishing left. I'm excited to be in the position I'm in. It's the position everybody wants to be in.
"I just need to hold on to the ball."
That's exactly it: Unless Evers fumbles – after a season when 30th place has been his worst finish – Martens, KVD and the others don't stand a chance of overtaking him.
Martens understands there is another half to this equation: Even is Evers stumbles, Martens has to hit a home run. And Martens believes there's only one place he can do that: Lake Erie.
"That's all there is to it," Martens said. "It's the only chance I've got to win, and I'm going to go for it. It's going to be miserable."
He estimates a 160- to 180-mile round trip to Lake Erie on Thursday, weather permitting. The forecast isn't ideal for a long run across big water.
"I don't know how many hours I'll get to fish," Martens said.
But even if he wasn't trying to overcome a 30-point lead in the final tournament of the season, Martens said he'd still be going to Lake Erie on Thursday.
"With what I found there, yeah, I'd still be going there," Martens said.
But this is one time when finding the biggest bass in the tournament waters isn't enough. A bunch of other Elite Series anglers will have to do that too – and create 30-plus points of separation between Martens and Evers – for that to make any difference in the AOY race.
In other words, if Evers just holds on to the ball, it won't make any difference what Martens, VanDam or anyone else does in this final event.