When Edward Evers headed out for the final day of the Bassmaster Classic on Sunday, some fans had already counted him out.
But Evers still had faith.
“Grand Lake (the Oklahoma reservoir where the championship tournament was held) has a lot of big bass,” said Evers, who lives in Talala, Okla. “I was about six pounds out of the lead, but you can catch up in a hurry on this lake.
“You just have to be in the right spot at the right time.”
Evers was in that right place at the right time Sunday. Fishing in the Elk River, he caught five bass weighing 29 pounds, 3 ounces — a giant catch in anyone’s book. That lifted his three-day final total to 60 pounds, 7 ounces, and gave him fishing’s most prestigious title.
It wasn’t even close. Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., the leader the first two days of the tournament, settled for second place with 50 pounds, 2 ounces.
That giant day of fishing gave Evers $300,000 in winnings and the title of pro bass fishing’s King of the Hill for a year at least.
“I knew this spot held big fish, but the conditions had to be right for them to hit,” Evers said in a telephone interview. “I caught a couple 7-pounders there in practice, but it was real windy then.
“The first two days of the tournament were pretty calm, and I didn’t even go back in there. But when the wind was blowing Sunday, I decided that’s where I was going to win or lose the Classic.”
Fishing in clear water, he started casting a green, brown and orange jig that he helped designed for Andy’s Custom Bass Lures. He targeted isolated logs — and occasionally even the big bass that were holding on them — and hit the jackpot.
“I caught all my fish in an area that covered about two football fields,” said Evers, 41, who has fished the B.A.S.S. circuit since 1997. “I just hit a time when the big ones were in the shallows feeding.
“The water was clear, so I had to make long casts or pitches. The wind definitely helped, because the fish didn’t spook as easily.
“I’ve fished Grand Lake quite a bit in the past, and I’ve caught big fish there in the past. But it really paid off Sunday.”
This was Evers’ first Bassmaster Classic championship. He has qualified for the Super Bowl of bass fishing 15 times, and he had come close, finishing third in 2014. He also had won 10 other B.A.S.S. tournaments, establishing himself as one of the top pros on the circuit. But he still had one unfulfilled goal — winning the Classic.
“It was just an unbelievable feeling, standing up there on stage, holding that trophy while the fans went crazy,” Evers said. “My first reaction was that it was a relief to finally win the Classic.
“That’s what every pro dreams about.”
James Watson of Nixa, Mo., also had a weekend to remember. Though he missed the final-day cut, he still ended up in 15th place in the field of 55 fishermen with 13 bass weighing 35 pounds, 8 ounces in two days of fishing.