MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Two anglers remain in the Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship, and will battle Sunday head to head for the $100,000 top prize. Edwin Evers and Ott DeFoe have had dream seasons on the Elite Series this year and continued their success into the postseason.
Both anglers are fishing completely different patterns on completely different ends of the sprawling Alabama River.
DeFoe has ran up north, fishing for spotted bass in the current almost as far as an angler can take a boat.
Evers, on the other hand, turns his boat south and goes over 40 miles to the dam, working his way back up throughout the day.
As they get set to face off Sunday, here is a breakdown of how each angler has made it this far and what lies ahead:
DeFoe knows that his stars need to align for him to win. He’s running up the Alabama River into the Coosa and is also fishing in a canal that is below Bouldin dam, which holds back Lake Jordan. A kicker fish or two - among other things - will be key for him.
“I have to get another big bite and a few quality fish to go with it,” he said. “Edwin showed up today and showed what he can catch. He kinda fishes around, so I’ve got to be on my game tomorrow.”
Current is a big factor at DeFoe’s main spots, which lie across the canal from each other.
“If they run a little extra water tomorrow, that would definitely help the cause,” he said.
However important the water flow and levels are, DeFoe stressed how important a big bite is.
“A big fish will still be key to put me over the top,” he said.
Regardless of what happens, though, DeFoe has been humbled by fishing with the best of the 2011 Elite Series season.
“Man, it’s been really special getting to fish with these guys and be with these guys this week,” he said.
There’s one guy in particular, however, who could end DeFoe’s season on a sour note.
“Well, the way that Edwin’s fishing, he’s catching largemouth and while the chance is there that his spots won’t replenish, he’s got a lot more water to fish. I feel like my spots are smaller when it’s all told,” he said. “He’s got a better chance of hitting stuff down there that’s not been worked over.
“But when it’s all over tomorrow, you can look at it this way: either way, Team Bass Pro Shops is going to win,” DeFoe said.
After a sub-par first day on the Alabama River, Evers turned it around in the semifinals thanks to a good decision and water conditions that set up just right for what he planned on doing. The dropping water hurt his opponent, Casey Ashley, but positioned the fish with the current that was being generated.
“When the water was high yesterday, it really scattered the fish out,” Evers said. “We had some current this morning that made the conditions right and I fished a little differently. I made the right decision to start all the way down at the dam and fish back up the river.”
It’s no secret that Evers has had most of his success fishing shallow, picking apart the plentiful wood cover on the south end of the lake. In fact, he left his best areas halfway through the day and starting practicing, not completely confident with what he had, but enough to try to expand his pattern. He ended up catching another of his good bass later in the day.
Catching the biggest bag of the event so far will help his confidence, but he’s been losing fish and knows that one of those could make the difference with $100,000 on the line.
“I just need to get the fish in the boat and not miss any or lose any,” Evers said. “A couple fish today just ran straight at the boat and a few bit just as I was getting ready to reel in and make another cast. I’ve got to execute on those chances tomorrow.”
At this point in the event, there is only one man standing between Evers and that check, and he knows it. After a great season in 2011 including his second straight runner-up finish in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, Evers would be thrilled to bring home another trophy.
“There’s only one more day, so this is definitely achievable,” Evers said. “Before the event started I was excited to get here, but know this is it, there are only two guys left and one will get the $100,000. This won’t quite make up for the AOY, but it would sure make me feel great.”
Now, only Defoe is in his way. Like Evers, DeFoe has been right up there all year long, a remarkable season rookie or otherwise. After two more strong days, Evers knows that Defoe is a tough opponent to go up against.
“I didn’t give him a nickel’s chance this morning when I saw they weren’t generating at Bouldin Dam,” Evers said. “He’s obviously been catching them regardless and has been pretty consistent. It’s going to be a really good shootout tomorrow – spotted bass vs. largemouth.”