The top five things from Day 4 of the Evan Williams Bourbon Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River.
Mark Zona was somewhat amazed with Edwin Evers’ approach to the Evan Williams Bourbon Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River.
The Bassmaster LIVE host calls a number of anglers each night prying them for information. He joked after Day 2 that Evers said exactly nine words in their 20-minute conversation. Widely known as secretive of his juice, Evers opened up a bit Saturday night, laying out his gameplan.
The full moon was Evers’ No. 1 reason to fish this event shallow, Zona discovered, and the other big difference from 2013 related to direction. Opposite to last time here when he finished 25th, Evers opted to head northeast from Waddington, or downriver.
“This time around, he went right all three days of practice,” Zona said. “The simple reason is he felt there would be too much pressure south. He never went back to a spot he caught them west of our boat ramp. So, the game plan: Follow the moon; fish shallow; and go where there’d be the least traffic.”
That is not the common tack most of the Elite pros take, going against their own history. But it’s probably the main reason Evers won, Zona said.
“Predominately, the majority of anglers go to history of what is well-known, or the fringe of that area,” Zona said. “To go against the grain like that is what separates good from great.”
Evers revealed more with trophy in hand. He said his dawn to dusk practices, 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., weren’t great, but he stuck to the game plan. He plays hard in the outdoors – as evidenced by his mountain biking injury before the event – but works even harder.
“It all came to fruition in practice,” he said, the first to capture two Elite events in succession while joining and elite group of five with 10 B.A.S.S. wins. “I’m humbled. This is amazing.”
He followed by saying that he is not only grateful he can fish for a living, but that he thanks God first and foremost for any successes he has doing it. “I’m really living the dream.”
Two in the well
If Evers wanted to get out of traffic on a beautiful Sunday, he might have had to go to another time zone. Steve Bowman, who directs Bassmaster.com tournament coverage, reported on LIVE via cellphone that Evers was fishing a place called the Parkway, and that it was basically Grand Central Station.
Check out the photo gallery to get a good idea of all the pleasure boats passing within a cast of Evers on Day 4.
Bowman added that he believed Evers’ fish were moving out from beds into deeper water.
“It’s a funnel coming off this big backwater area and evidently, from what he’s seeing, there’s a bunch of smallmouth,” he said.
Yes, certainly enough to win.
Bowman and Zona discussed how rare it is to win one Elite event, let along two in a row. Evers had won BASSfest on Kentucky Lake last month.
Zona posed, “How hard, how improbable, how momentous?”
Bowman followed. “And one thing you have to remember, he finished third at Havasu.”
Both have deep insight on the anglers, and Bowman said he’s seen something new in Evers. He related that Evers had five-minute battles reeling in his fish and would spend them calmly conversing with cameraman Rick Mason.
“He’s taking his time,” Bowman said. “One other thing about Edwin I’ve noticed in the last year or two, he has really matured and calmed down.”
Both related Evers remains secretive during an event, but they added that’s something they can certainly respect.
Seth Feider, making his first Top 12 cut ever, talked onstage about a problem many of the anglers faced. He had fish follow his jerkbait to the boat, even some larger brutes, but as time wore on they wouldn’t commit to taking the bait.
Zona commented Saturday that these smallmouth learn quickly something is wrong after their buddies are kidnapped. He added that the constant pounding of areas played with the inbetween stage the fish are in. It’s been relatively cool and the bass haven’t schooled up in their summer haunts.
“The lack of grouped up schools deep have kept that (shallow bite) in contention,” he said. “If it was three weeks later, 10 of the top 12 guys would be out fishing from 30- to 55-feet deep.
“This was a perfect storm timingwise, with the fish just getting off the spawn. No predominant depth ruled this time around.”
Four on the floor
Mike Iaconelli was the only angler in the Top 12 with a bag under 15 pounds. He was among the leaders after opening with 20-12, but he then fell to 23rd with a 14-0 bag on Friday.
Zona reports what Ike told him about his Saturday, when he felt no pressure and busted the big bag of 22-4 to reach Sunday.
“In his mind, he was out of contention to win,” Zona said. “Ike said it was the most relaxing day he’s had in tournament competition in some time.
“Now he’s back, keyed up that he has a chance on winning this. He said if can only harness how calm he was fishing yesterday.”
Ike had been starting shallow all week but went 20 feet and deeper Saturday. He only got seven bites, but all were the right ones. Zona said to watch out for Ike on the Chesapeake Bay, where Ike has confidence he can win.
Ike’s tactic was to point the nose of his boat in current and make little pitch casts out front while looking for fish. He didn’t have a lot of winding to retrieve and pitch to bass he’d see on his graph.
“His No. 1 key to fishing out deep was making short casts,” Zona said.
That’s a limit
Despite poor cell signal to the cameras providing the on-the-water shots to LIVE, Zona found the show rather entertaining. He said it had the best viewer feedback of the entire year.
Zona gave roving reporter Dave Mercer his MVP award on Day 2 (even though he never did eat a goby), then gave Steve Bowman the nod for his Day 3 updates on Evers. The eventual winner was in a virtual dead zone to send the video feed. Viewers will get to see that extensively when the St. Lawrence show airs at 8 a.m. ET, Sunday, Aug. 16 on ESPN2. See complete TV schedule.
On Day 4, Zona’s Tabasco Spicy Hot Bold Mover of the Week went to none other than co-host Tommy Sanders, who he said had “risen his game since Day 2 of this event.” To read more on Sanders, click here. And then see 25 years of Tommy Sanders.
- Photo of the Day again comes from Bowman, with Evers acting as his own boat bumper. Oh, and he caught a 4-pounder around that dam.
- The question of whether anglers can access BASSTrakk while fishing came up numerous times in the chat room on Bassmaster LIVE. On Day 4, anglers are allowed to check out what their competitors might have in the unofficial standings. Bowman reported Evers was certainly taking advantage, texting Zona that Evers “is a monster on the iPhone. He’s been checking BASSTrakk whenever he idles.” So maybe he’s not calmed down that much.
- Kevin VanDam finished 41st this week, which dropped Zona’s jaw but was telling of the fishing. “That shows how tough this body of water is right now. He dominates here, at least he did. It tells you how sporadic it has been.”