TULSA, Okla. — Edwin Evers came into Sunday knowing he had a tad more than six pounds to make up on his tournament travel partner, Jason Christie.
The two Oklahoma national touring anglers admitted sharing fishing secrets during the long days on the road fishing Bassmaster Elite Series events, the vehicle that earned them spots in the 46th Bassmaster Classic.
But when it came sunrise on Sunday’s final Classic day, and Evers was third, and Christie held what looked to be an insurmountable lead after two days on the muddy Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, all bets were off.
Christie, from nearby Park Hill, admitted after Saturday’s second round to “being scared,” almost as if he knew the fish he was on on his home lake would suddenly disappear.
Christie was right about the 36 pounds of bass he’d found the previous two days, and Evers, starting the day up the Elk River, said he believed the Elk would never produce a winning Classic catch.
Evers was wrong: He started whacking giant largemouths early Sunday morning in the narrow Elk, and by the time a fan standing on the bank within shouting distance of Christie told Christie that Evers had five giant largemouths, it was too late for Christie to do anything about it.
Evers’ giants weighed 29 pounds, 3 ounces, a catch that shot him to the top of the list of the 55 anglers who started this Classic.
That bass haul gave him a 60-pound, 7-ounce total, good enough to topple Christie from the perch he’d held for two days. Christie managed to catch only four bass weighing 12-9 Sunday and finished with 50-2. It meant Evers not only had a Classic best-ever final-day catch for a champion, but had won his first Classic, $300,000 and the line-your-pockets endorsements that go with the title.
“This is something I dreamed about since I was a kid, and I’m pinching myself to make sure it’s true,” Evers said while cradling the massive trophy.
Evers said his parents weren’t fishermen, but knowing and understanding his youthful passion, they took him fishing.
“I owe a lot to them and the good Lord for blessing me like this,” Evers said.
But the dream didn’t come true in the places where Evers knew this 44,000-acre impoundment best. He said he likes the reservoir’s southern reaches and reserved the northern stretches of the Elk for canoeing trips with his son.
“The water is very clear up there,” Evers said, adding that clear water demands very precise casts and lure presentations.
What changed all that was a storm last Christmas that dumped nearly 24 inches of rain in northeast Oklahoma and left the lake muddy for the last three months.
After he’d caught four bass on Friday’s first day — the oddity here is that the top two anglers didn’t have the 15 fish that constituted a three days worth of daily limits — Evers knew he had to find clearer water.
And those floods had left logs the bass in the Elk used for cover. Evers said he used 5/16th-ounce crawfish-colored jig on 12-pound test line and made long casts so as not to spook the fish.
Greg Hackney, Louisiana’s lone Classic qualifier, moved up two notches and finished 10th in the field. He had a 15-bass catch weighing 40-9.