For his 43rd birthday (on Nov. 30) Edwin Evers’ hoped to get a bulldozer. And two days before, he had one picked out at an auction near his Talala, Okla., home. But when the bidding got high enough to put the shakes in his conservative financial nature, Evers dropped out. The dozer sold for $18,000 – a bargain price.
Evers’ wife, Tuesday, was disappointed to hear the news. She knows how long Edwin has wanted a bulldozer. Every man with some farmland wants a bulldozer. Evers was shopping for one 12 years ago when he instead bought a wedding ring for Tuesday.
Evers, however, didn’t come home from the auction empty-handed. He purchased a 1979 Webbcraft 22-foot boat with a 350-horsepower inboard/outboard engine – for $1,100.
The obvious question is, why? More like, why in the world?
“It was in mint condition,” Evers said. “I thought it would be great to pull the kids around the lake on an inner tube.”
It’s hard to fault a guy for thinking of his kids instead of himself, or for being conservative with his hard-earned money. But the idea of the Bassmaster Elite Series pro, who crossed the $3 million mark in B.A.S.S. winnings this year, getting cold feet over an $18,000 bulldozer is somewhat humorous, especially when you know his wife would have applauded the purchase.
It’s been that kind of year for Evers – close but no cigar. If it seems like you didn’t hear his name as much as usual during the 2017 Elite Series, well, you didn’t. For only the second time in the 12-year history of the circuit he failed to make a single Top 12/Championship Sunday cut. Despite that, he finished an astounding fifth in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY) final standings. It may well have been the quietest Top 5 AOY finish in Elite Series history. The only other time he didn’t make a single Top 12 cut was in 2009, when he finished 44th in the AOY standings – by far his worst ever.
“It was kind of a frustrating year,” Evers said. “I never put three strong days together. I’d have two good days and one bad day every time. It was aggravating.”
Aggravating, maybe for some, but in the words of rock singer Meatloaf, “Two out of three ain’t bad.” Evers won $116,000 on the Elite Series in 2017. Add in the $15,000 he earned for an 11th place finish in the Bassmaster Classic, and his B.A.S.S. tournament earnings were $131,000.
Evers missed only one two-day cut in 2017 – at Cherokee Lake in the first tournament of the season. His year is the ultimate example of the value in consistency. If you’re competing on Day 3 in every tournament except one, even though you never advance to Day 4, you can still have a great season by almost anyone’s standards.
It also speaks to the increased competitiveness of the Elite Series. Veterans of the tour will attest that it’s an accomplishment to make the two-day cut now. It used to be a given for some; it’s not for anyone now. The increased strength of the entire field is one reason why Brandon Palaniuk could have a 105th place finish at Lake Okeechobee and still win the AOY title.
“It’s the most competitive field we’ve ever had,” Ever said. “The young guys coming up are truly amazing.”
It was one of those young guys, Jordan Lee, who put on an amazing Bassmaster Classic Day 3 performance of 27 pounds, 4 ounces to win it at Lake Conroe in March. It’s that memory that still haunts Evers. He had a chance to win back-to-back Classics after his 2016 victory at Grand Lake. Evers was in third place going into the final day, after sacking 18-3 and 20-13 the first two days. A limit weighing “only” 17-11 would have earned him the title, but Evers bagged two bass weighing 6-11.
“There are not too many days that go by when I don’t think about that Classic,” Evers said. “I spent too much time on one (bedding) fish. That’s the mistake I made. There was one other canal I’d found in practice that I never went to in the tournament. A friend of mine told me later that the fish were stacked in there like cordwood.”
If he’s not at the top of the “best anglers to never win AOY” list, Evers is close. Consider how consistently good he’s been: second three times (2013, 2011, 2010), fourth (2015), fifth (2017), sixth (2008) and eighth twice (2012, 2006). That’s eight Top 8 AOY finishes. Add in the 63 Top 10 finishes in his B.A.S.S. career, and Evers has Hall of Fame credentials now – at the relatively young age of 43.
Evers probably has some loftier goals still in mind, but two are obvious: a bulldozer for Christmas, and a Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title in 2018.