Locked out

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – While much of the attention has been focused on tough fishing conditions on the Arkansas River, a bigger concern for Edwin Evers will be the locking situation.

With five pools open to the Elite Series contenders during the Diamond Drive, two pools up and two down from the launch site in Little Rock, there are four potential delays that could occur for those making a long run. Even locking once still puts Evers at risk.

“Someone could have a monster sack and not make it back,” Evers said. “That’s the scary thing here. Any tournament can shake up the standings, but here, the biggest factor is those (lock) doors.”

The risk could be worth the reward, especially to get away from a crowd or to some of the better fishing in another pool. Evers certainly isn’t going to scratch locking off the list just because of the potential for a delay coming in.

The bottom line is, he’s shooting for a top finish, not playing it safe.

“As soon as you don’t do that, you take yourself out of contention,” Evers said. “Whether it is the first tournament of the year or the last, I’m going to do whatever I can to win. You just don’t want to fish scared.”

Any veteran angler in contention for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award knows that to win, risks can’t always be avoided. Evers sits in fourth place in the year-long race, only 53 points back. Playing it safe has never been part of his plan.

Evers did put some extra time in preparing for the event, something he doesn’t normally do.

“I flew over it like everybody else,” Evers said. “I didn’t do anything else different to prepare for this tournament except to look at some aerial photos. I flew over this thing the last time we fished here too. I keep flying over it thinking I will find something killer good, but I never do.”

What he did see from the plane was conditions becoming much more favorable for the tournament. After heavy flooding throughout Arkansas and the surrounding states, the water levels are finally falling and, more importantly, the water is clearing.

“The water is in a lot better shape than I expected,” Evers said. “It’s a lot cleaner and a lot lower. In my mind, I would say this type of fishing suits my strengths, but historically, I would say no. This is the kind of stuff I grew up fishing. Places like Texoma - really most Oklahoma fishing in general is like this.”

Evers was understandably hesitant to reveal anything specific about his practice, but he did note that he doesn’t like to stick fish on a place like this.

“I think that here, there are not a lot of fish to go around,” Evers said. “It’s not Guntersville, where you have to find a lot of 5-pounders. I can tell the size most of the time when fishing shallow water like this.”

One day of practice remains and entering the penultimate event, the TTBAOY race is tight. The difference may come down to who gets locked out and who makes it back with a big bag.

“That’s why it’s scary. It’s all depending on barge traffic and how that lockmaster is feeling that day.”

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