Those worries became reality when Smith was only compile 10 ½ pounds, while Evers showed up at the scales with 14-7.
“I only caught six fish today,” Smith lamented, noting overcast conditions that moved in ahead of a front, spreading out the few fish left in his area. “I caught my fifth (weigh) fish with five minutes left to fish.”
Evers, on the other hand, boated the heaviest sack of the tournament by making a more than 2-hour run east and working his lures in and around vegetation.
“In the mornings, the fish were roaming on the outsides of that grass, and I’d catch them on a spinnerbait,” he said. “But my better fish came from undercut banks with vegetation.”
Once the bite on the Bass Pro Shops Lazer Eye spinnerbait turned off, usually less than an hour after he started fishing, Evers began punching water hyacinths on the undercut banks with a combination of a Yum Money Craw under a 1-ounce weight and a Yum Craw Papi topped with a 3/16-ounce weight.
The key to the entire tournament for Evers, however, came less than an hour into the first day of competition.
“I abandoned where I really felt I would catch fish, and moved on and really went looking,” he said. “That’s when I found this area I was in.”
The area, which he refused to identify because it’s a potential target for the 2011 Bassmaster Classic set for New Orleans, was one he had seen in practice but never fished.
“I saw it and knew it looked good, but I didn’t fish it until the first day of competition,” Evers said. “I just figured, ‘I’ll give it 15 minutes and see what happens.’ It paid off.”
Even though the veteran pro was confident he had he winning weight, Evers kept his fingers crossed on the long run back to the landing.
“I knew if I break down I have to get in on my own,” he said. “There were no other competitors to pick me up. That was my main concern.”
The win marks Evers’ fifth BASS win, and he said it was a great feeling.
“You just need to cherish each one,” he said. “They’re so hard to come by.”