DECATUR, Ala. — Edwin Evers was in eighth place on Saturday and looked to be in good position to move up in the standings.However, one mistake cost him dearly in the final round. Evers' livewell quit running and his five keepers died. Not only did each dead bass cost him 8 ounces, but he was required by the rules to throw back a 2½-pounder that he caught when he lifted the lid and discovered what had happened."At one point I was sight-fishing and working the trim tab without really looking at it," said Evers prior to Sunday's weigh-in. "The livewell control is right next to it, and I guess I accidentally hit it. Bad mistake."Evers finished in 26th place. Wheeler's world-class drum and lamprey
If drum could have been weighed in with bass during the Dixie Duel, the standings would be a lot different than they wound up. Among the competitors who loaded the boat with bruiser drum was Gary Klein, who joked about his "drum pattern."I'd like a stringer of bass that weighed as much as the drum I caught in this tournament," said the Texas pro. "I had a huge 20-pounder on Thursday, then 15-pounders on Saturday and Sunday.If Klein got to weigh his drum, Brent Chapman might have insisted he weighed his lampreys. Chapman caught three bass in the final round that had lampreys attached to them, and threw back a few more small bass with the nasty-looking critters attached.
Mark Menendez grew so desperate during the Dixie Duel that he stooped to the unthinkable: he fished a Carolina rig.
"I hate fishing Carolina rigs, but when I tried it the other day in practice just junk fishing it worked, so I kept it up. Hey, it's not so bad," said Menendez, who finished eighth.Jason Williamson might have given Menendez a big I-told-you-so. Much of Williamson's 17th-place stringer came on Carolina rigs.Small's the new large
Brent Chapman's fourth-place finish depended largely on his catching the biggest smallmouth bass he'd ever boated on Day Three. The beady-eyed, 6 pound, 7 ounce smallmouth was the largest bass weighed on the final day of the Dixie Duel, and was only 11 ounces shy of the tournament's largest fish.Chapman said he found that fish and another 4 1/2 pounder by simply going fishing on the tournament's final day. He found both fish in similar areas: main river ledges with some current ."If something looked good, I fished it," Chapman said.Until the kicker fish took his Lucky Craft on Day Three, the largest smallmouth Chapman had ever caught was about 5 ½ pounds."You don't expect to catch that on a crankbait," the pro said. When he first hooked the fish, "I thought it was a drum."He just about tried shaking it off. But of course, once the beast breached the surface, Chapman's tune changed. So proud was he of the fish that he later pulled it out of his livewell just to brandish for an ESPN helicopter.KVD'oh
Scan the list of leaders, and you'll notice one conspicuous absence: Kevin VanDam, the reigning Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and heretofore the points leader so far in 2009 fairly cratered on Wheeler, where he was runner-up last season.After squeaking into the 50-man cut to fish Day Three, he improved his lot incrementally to finish 45th. But it was still anything but a typical week for the richest earner in the history of BASS.He explained to weigh-in emcee Keith Alan that he never did find big fish, and missed several fish. If he had the week to do over, VanDam said, "I probably would have changed the order I ran some of the water."