Evers running out the AOY clock

WADDINGTON, N.Y. — You can't get much more consistent than staying in 25th place three days in a row, like Edwin Evers did at the Bassmaster Elite Series Evan Williams Bourbon St. Lawrence River Showdown.

With all the pressure that goes with leading the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year race going into the next-to-last event of the season, Evers caught 18 pounds, 7 ounces Thurday (25th place), 18-10 Friday (25th place) and 18-1 Saturday (25th place).

"I had the opportunity to have some better bags than I did," Evers said. "With that said, I feel fortunate to get out of here where I finished.

"It's all in my hands. If I go in and have a top 12 finish (at Lake St. Clair), I'm Angler of the Year."

Actually, the two-time AOY runner-up doesn't have to do nearly that well. If he finishes 25th again, that would clinch it, even if Aaron Martens rallied from seventh place to finish first here Sunday, and Martens wins again in two weeks at St. Clair. Back to back 25th-place finishes by Evers are going to trump back-to-back wins by Martens.

It's another example of the consistency it takes to win the AOY title. You can't have one bad tournament all season. That's why many anglers consider AOY a bigger achievement than a Bassmaster Classic crown.

Check out Evers' record of consistency during the 2013 Elite season: 13th at the Sabine River, 6th at Falcon Lake, 25th at Bull Shoals Lake, 30th at West Point Lake, 1st on the Alabama River, 11th on the Mississippi River at La Crosse and 25th on the St. Lawrence River.

Martens started the season by finishing 85th at the Sabine River – one really bad tournament. He hasn't finished lower than 24th since, and has made the last four Top 12 cuts.

Here's the other, less-obvious key to an AOY title: You've got to have some highlights to go with the consistency.

Kevin VanDam's season is an example. The seven-time Bassmaster AOY champion has been remarkably consistent this season, but unspectacular. VanDam hasn't made a single Top 12 cut.

VanDam keeps extending his incredible string of Top 50 finishes, but that's as far as the superlatives go this season for the angler widely considered to be the best of all-time. His finishes, in order, from Sabine to St. Lawrence: 15th, 19th, 19th, 27th, 32nd, 24th and 14th.

You could see the pain on VanDam's face Saturday when he weighed-in only 15-4, following 20-pound-plus bags Thursday and Friday.

"It was a nightmare day," he said. "I don't know what else to say about it. It was just a bummer."

After fishing flawlessly for two days, VanDam suffered through all the possible negative scenarios Saturday, like broken lines and thrown hooks.

"Until today, I'd caught every big one that I hooked," VanDam said. "I even caught one on a drop-shot weight the other day. My luck caught up with me today, I guess.

"If I'd landed one of the big ones I lost today, I'd have enough weight to fish Sunday probably."

(As a side note: Here's how you catch a fish on a drop-shot weight, in VanDam's words: "It ate the weight, and it went through its gills and hung on his dorsal fin. I fought him all the way to the boat like that, bellied him, and the weight popped out." VanDam said the smallmouth bass was big enough to go in his livewell for a while, but he culled it with a bigger bass later that day.)

VanDam's AOY point total, like Evers', is sealed until St. Clair. He'll go into that event 39 points behind Evers. Martens will be either 32 or 26 points behind Evers, depending on how he finishes Sunday.

In football lingo, Evers killed a big chunk of the fourth-quarter clock this week. Yes, he lost a few points off his lead, but Skeet Reese, who was in second place, 44 points behind, eliminated himself with a 93rd place finish.

It's down to two contenders – Martens and VanDam. Evers has possession of the ball and his opponents are out of timeouts. He can just about run out the clock on this game.

The No. 1 rule for winning AOY still holds: You can't have one bad tournament.

But there's only one tournament left in the season.

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