DECATUR, Ill. — Ten superstar bass anglers have been eliminated, but one more must go before the 2012 Toyota Trucks All-Star Week champion is crowned.
Last year’s All-Star runner-up Edwin Evers and 2005 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Aaron Martens advanced to the fourth and final round of the Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star championship on Lake Decatur. They eliminated 2004 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle and defending All-Star champ Ott DeFoe, respectively.
On Sunday, Evers and Martens will meet on Lake Decatur for a second day of fishing to determine a new champion and award $60,000 to the winner.
With Evers and DeFoe in different brackets on Saturday, the stage was set for a finals rematch. Those dreams fell apart for DeFoe when he lost a bass weighing between 5 and 6 pounds. He was flipping a Berkley Tube (black with red flake) on a 5/0 VMC heavy duty extra wide gap hook behind a 5/16-ounce Reins Tungsten sinker around laydown trees when the big one — easily the biggest bass of the tournament — jumped and threw his bait near the boat.
DeFoe slapped the water surface with his rod tip, and dejectedly offered his ultimate oath — “Dang it!” He was never able to recover. Martens easily outpaced him with the day’s only 5-bass limit — 8 pounds, 13 ounces to 2-12, respectively.
While DeFoe was struggling to make up for the lost lunker, Martens slowly and steadily put together the best catch of the day. He was fishing extremely shallow and covering as much water as possible.
“The water’s really dirty — zero visibility — and it’s pretty scary to motor through to get to my fish,” Martens said.
In the other bracket, No. 1 seed Edwin Evers motored for an hour and 20 minutes through silt and mud to get to deeper water on the upper end of the lake. There he caught four keeper largemouth weighing 8-6 to No. 4 seed Gerald Swindle’s 1-12. Evers’s momentum from two strong days on Lake Shelbyville never let up as he jumped out to a quick morning lead and never looked back.
“I don’t think I can get back to my fish,” Evers said. “That north wind dropped the water level so low that I’m sure I can’t get through.”
Swindle, the clown prince of bass fishing, was characteristically humorous about his disappointing day. “Thank God it’s over,” he said. “Lake Mashed Potatoes and Gravy has been tough on me. I lost $3,000 worth of crankbaits, 140 jigs and bent the shaft of my trolling motor. Other than that, I can’t wait to come back.”
Highlights of Toyota Trucks All-Star Week:
Morning Takeoffs: Sunday, 8 a.m. CT at Lake Decatur’s Nelson Park, 2203 E. Lakeshore Drive, Decatur, Ill. Fans are invited to watch the takeoff; there is no admission charge.
Weigh-ins: 5-6 p.m. CT, Sunday at Nelson Park, 2203 E. Lakeshore Drive, Decatur, Ill. There is no admission charge to the weigh-ins.
Decatur Lakefest:This 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.”
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: 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