Evers: Elite Series producing record catches

CELEBRATION, Fla. — The new CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series is only in its infancy, but as far as rising star angler Edwin Evers is concerned, things are going just fine.

 Evers, 31, is a staunch supporter of the Elite Series concept, which is bringing together the world's best anglers for an 11-event series of tournaments offering more than $7.5 million in prize money for the season. The tournaments are scheduled on some of the top fisheries in America at the right times of year for optimum fishing.

 The first few events of the season have produced exactly what was expected: record catches and weights as well as tough competition. Evers, who placed 10th in the inaugural Elite Series event at Lake Amistad in Del Rio, Texas, and recently finished in seventh in the Southern Challenge presented by Berkley, is very pleased with the staging and execution of the events, he said.

 "I'm pleasantly surprised," said Evers, from Mannsville, Okla. "I think it's been really great. It's been better than even what I expected. I'm happy with the way things are going."

 One of the Elite Series aspects attracting anglers and sponsors is a larger presence in television coverage, with each of the 11 events shown on the ESPN2 show The CITGO Bassmasters. Anglers and their sponsors are being showcased in the media like never before.

 "The TV coverage is great," said Evers, who is ranked 10th on the Bassmaster Elite Series Power Index. "They're showing our boats and they seem to be promoting a broad array of anglers. I like what they're doing."

 A professional angler for five years, Evers already has scored three BASS wins and taken in more than $600,000 in prize money, remarkable accomplishments for such a short career. In 83 BASS events, he has finished in the money nearly 60 times. He also has qualified for BASS fishing's most major event, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, five times, and finished 11th when the event was held earlier this year in Kissimmee, Fla. He was sixth in the 2005 Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh.

 Evers' performances in BASS tournament fishing have helped him align with sponsors including Nitro Boats, Mercury Outboards, MotorGuide, Lowrance Electronics, Burnside RV, Bass Pro Shops, Lance Campers, AES Eyewear, Optima Batteries and Bigfishtool.com.

 Now, Evers is concentrating on the Elite Series and hoping to qualify for the three Bassmaster Majors events. He is enjoying the level of competition as well as the camaraderie of the Elite Series and its anglers.

 "It's a phenomenal schedule and a phenomenal group of fishermen," he said. "You can't stumble — there are too many good fishermen. The saving grace is that there are 11 tournaments so consistency will still pay."