Mercury pro Edwin Evers exploits Kentucky Lake 'honey hole' for win at BASSfest
PARIS, Tenn. – On a reservoir that boasts 2,000 miles of Tennessee River shoreline and holds more than 160,000 cubic acres of water, it seems almost impossible that a 20-square-foot spot on a rocky ledge could determine the difference between a Bassmaster Classic berth and a disappointing second-place tournament finish.
For Mercury pro Edwin Evers, though, one tiny little honey hole on Kentucky Lake made all the difference in the world. Competing last weekend for a $100,000 payday, a coveted free pass to the 2016 Classic, and redemption against one of the most successful anglers in history, Evers caught three monster largemouth (an 8-pounder on Day 2, a 6-12 on Day 3 and an 8-11 on Championship Sunday) from the same tiny spot to snatch the Zippo BASSfest trophy from Team Mercury teammate Kevin VanDam. Evers weighed in 97 pounds, 4 ounces to VanDam's 94-4, flip-flopping the results of the last Elite Series tournament held on Kentucky Lake (in 2010, when VanDam beat Evers by 5 pounds).
Mercury anglers owned the BASSfest top five spots: Evers, VanDam, Brett Hite, Tim Horton and Fred Roumbanis.
"That particular spot I was fishing covered maybe 1,000 square feet, but the three big fish were all in a 20-square-foot area," Evers said as he cradled the BASSfest trophy at Paris Landing State Park. "I actually found that spot the first day of competition in 2010. I idled over it, saw these big fish on my graph, cast back and caught a 7 and a 6. I spent the rest of my tournament on that spot back then. I had the fish to win that tournament. I just kept losing big ones."
This year, though, Evers converted every big-fish opportunity. The nine-time Elite Series winner brought 24-0 to the scales on Day 1, trailing fellow Team Mercury anglers Ott Defoe (26-7) and Andy Montgomery (25-4), but then seized control of the tournament on Day 2 with 27-2. Evers struggled slightly on Day 3, but held onto the lead with 22-1.
"It got a lot tougher on Saturday (Day 3) because of the local pressure this lake gets," Evers admitted. "The Tennessee Valley Authority wasn't releasing as much water from the dam, either, so there wasn't much current. That definitely made fishing tougher."
Saving the best for last
Evers was slow to start on Championship Sunday, building a light limit (roughly 14 pounds) in the morning while Mercury pro Brett Hite hammered more than 20 pounds on an early bite that had consistently produced for him all tournament long. Evers was saving his honey hole for the afternoon, when water releases increased slightly, but it turned out that he needed to catch a giant late in the day, thanks to VanDam.
VanDam, the 20-time Elite winner and four-time Angler of the Year put together what he described as "my most memorable day ever on Kentucky Lake," taking advantage of a wicked early-afternoon bite that propelled him from roughly 13 pounds to 26-10 in less than an hour. Evers simply stuck to his pattern – running a deep crank to get schools active, and then following with a swimbait, worm and hair jig – and connected with the biggest fish of the tournament at 1:30 p.m. on Championship Sunday, when it mattered most.
"I figured out a lot about that little spot back in 2010, but I feel like I know a lot more about it now," Evers said. "The three big ones came literally out of a 5-foot circle. It's just one of those places that big fish like to go to, and I knew I had a better chance of getting one of them to bite later in the day."
Evers depended on his gear
Because of the geography of the Kentucky Lake ledge fishery, Evers spent plenty of time in practice and over the course of the tournament firing and re-firing his 250hp Mercury OptiMax ProXS, hopping from spot to spot, graphing and fishing likely-looking structure as he searched for bigger schools of fish.
"When you make it out to your spots, spend all day moving around, and get back to check-in with 30 seconds to spare after a 30-mile run, you're pretty dependent on your equipment," Evers said. "I've put a lot of miles on that Mercury motor so far this year. You add up all the wear and tear from the Sabine River, the Sacramento River and everything we've fished so far, that motor has been bulletproof."
NOTES: Mercury pro and 2014 Bassmaster Classic Champion Randy Howell won the Second Chance tournament on Barkley Lake with just over 18 pounds, earning a chance to continue fishing BASSfest on Saturday … Howell took full advantage of his second chance, bagging 22-13 to jump 30 places in the standings and early valuable AOY points (he finished 34th) … Evers and the rest of the Mercury Elites next compete July 30 through Aug. 2 at the Evan Williams Bourbon Elite on the St. Lawrence river in Waddington, New York.
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