Evers drops the ball

DETROIT — Aaron Martens claims he has had very little sleep this week, because of his determination to win the season-ending Bassmaster Elite Series Plano Championship Chase.

"I've gotten 12 hours of sleep in the last three, four days," Martens said. "I got two last night."

Edwin Evers will be lucky to get two hours sleep Thursday night. After Day One, he's got a lot on his mind: Primarily, how to hang on to a Toyota Angler of the Year title that Evers seemingly had in his back pocket.

Martens started the day in second place, 30 points behind Evers. He finished it in third place among the 99 anglers on Lake St. Clair with a five-bass limit weighing 21 pounds, 14 ounces. More importantly, Edwin Evers finished in 79th place with 13-1.

"It's not a one-day event," Evers said. "It's not over by any means."

But for Evers, who hasn't finished lower than 30th place in the seven previous Elite Series events, his AOY chances are 24 hours from being over. Thursday's developments are certain to make for a long night of re-thinking his game plan.

"I'm still scratching my head," Evers said of his Day One bag, when he had only five bites and was fortunate to boat five bass. "I don't know what happened. I thought I had three really good areas found. (The bass) didn't show up. I caught one quick, and then I didn't catch another one until about two o'clock.

"I thought I could catch 20, 21 pounds after practice, and 17 or 18 pounds pretty easy. I don't know what I'm going to do (Friday) yet."

Evers indicated he wouldn't be making the 50-plus mile run to Lake Erie, where many of the big bags came from Thursday, including Martens' 20-14.

"No, I'm not going to do that," said Evers, who spent all three days of practice in Lake St. Clair. "I wouldn't feel right going to Erie since I didn't practice there."

It's not as dire for Evers as it might appear, even though based on Thursday's standings, Martens would swamp him by 41 points. Those are "theoretical" points. AOY points aren't determined until the final four-day standings are set. And the bottom line for Evers is that he needs to finish within 30 places of Martens, in what is essentially a two-man race now. Kevin VanDam, third in AOY points going in, 39 back of Evers, is 49th after Day One at St. Clair. His best chance is for both Evers and Martens to get disqualified Friday or break down and check-in way late.

But that's just it: Anything can happen Friday. Evers goal isn't as far off as it might appear on first glace. He just needs to make the Top 50 cut. That would assure him of having another day to get within 30 places of Martens. That's what Evers has to do to win the AOY title – finish no more than 30 places behind Martens.

In a smallmouth fishery, it's certainly within reason that Evers will find the fish that disappeared on him Thursday. The Day Two Top 50 cut weight will probably be around 30 pounds. Skeet Reese was 50th Thursday with 15-5. If Evers catches 17 or 18 pounds Friday, he's got a shot at making the 50 cut, and his AOY chances would still be in his hands another day.

Martens isn't looking forward to the long boat run he's got to make it to his spots on Lake Erie. He said that at times Thursday he had to slow down to 16 or 18 miles-per-hour to get through the rough water.

Winning this event has been Martens' sole goal all week, hence the sleepless nights.

"I've got too many second places," he said of his Bassmaster career. "I've got to put some firsts in there."

After his practice period, Martens has never questioned his game plan of running to Lake Erie this week, even if the wind started blowing.

"With what I found there, yeah, I'll still be going there," Martens said Wednesday, adding, "That's all there is to it. It's the only chance I've got to win, and I'm going to go for it. It's going to be miserable."

As it turned out, Thursday wasn't at all miserable for Aaron Martens. That result, combined with his own frustrations on Lake St. Clair, will make Thursday night extremely miserable for Edwin Evers.