Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 03/18/2016

Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos by Dave Rush

Tulsa, OK - For two days, Jason Christie dominated the headlines at the 2016 Bassmaster Classic.  The Park Hill, Oklahoma pro kicked things off with a 20-14 limit on Day One, and backed it up with another 16-11 on Day Two to lead his closest competitor by 5 pounds, 11 ounces heading into the Final Day.  

On the surface, it appeared as though Sunday’s finale would be a coronation for the Grand Lake guru, who finished in 7th place when the Classic last visited Grand Lake in 2013.  But deep down, Jason Christie knew something that the pundits didn’t know – he was fishing a dying pattern and was hoping that he could grind it out for just one more day on the fishery that helped mold him into one of the most talented anglers in professional bass fishing. 

In the Edwin Evers’ camp, things were a little different heading into championship Sunday. Like Christie, the Talala, Oklahoma entered Classic week with high expectations and the media spotlight shining on him brightly.  That light dimmed after Friday’s weigh-in, when Evers rolled into the BOK Center with just four fish weighing 13-12 to finish Day One in 13th place – over 7-pounds behind the pace set by Christie.  

He rebounded on Saturday, weighing-in 17-8 (the heaviest limit of the day) to finish the day in 3rd place, but he was still 6 pounds, 5 ounces behind Christie.  Immediately after weighing-in on Saturday, Evers candidly discussed the feasibility of tracking down his fellow Oklahoman, who is also his friend and roommate during the Elite Series season. “If Jason (Christie) is going to have a 7- or 8-pound lead heading into tomorrow, it’s going to take a miracle,” he stated with a grimace. “If he only has a 4- or 5-pound lead, it’s definitely doable.”

Taking Evers’ post weigh-in quote into consideration along with the fact that he was 6 pounds, 5 ounces off Christie’s lead after Saturday, he labeled his chance for an epic final day comeback somewhere between a “miracle” and “doable.”  

What Evers didn’t divulge to the media on Saturday afternoon was the fact that he had an ace up his sleeve – a stretch of untapped water in the Elk River that he discovered was teeming with 4- to 6-pound Grand Lake largemouth during the official practice.

When the first cast was made on Sunday, Christie was faced with trying to hold his lead by making the most of a dying pattern, while Evers was attacking a section of river with great potential.    

By mid-morning, Evers had built a mega-bag up the river while Christie struggled to connect with the quality bass in the mid lake area that had separated him for the rest of the field all week.    

The end result was shocking.  

On a fishery that had surrendered just one 20-pound limit of bass over the first two days of competition, Edwin Evers weighed-in a 29 pound, 3 ounce limit on Sunday, pushing his tournament total to 60 pounds, 7 ounces and stunning the near capacity crowd.

Christie weighed-in just four bass on Sunday weighing 12 pounds, 9 ounces, and finished in 2nd place with a total weight of 50 pounds, 2 ounces.   In the end, the margin of victory was 10 pounds, 5 ounces.  

According to Managing Editor of Fishing Tackle Retailer, Ken Duke, Evers’ massive limit set the record for the heaviest final day weight for a Classic champion.   The 16 pound, 10 ounce swing between Evers’ deficit entering the day and his eventual margin of victory also set a Classic record.  

Evers’ victory marks the third consecutive year that the Bassmaster Classic has been won by an angler fishing in their home state, and the fourth time since 2007 that a hometown hero has lifted the biggest trophy in the sport.  

What’s even more impressive about Evers’ victory is the fact that Grand Lake barely resembled the fishery that he prepared for over the past months.  With flooding in December, the water below Sailboat Bridge was uncharacteristically muddy, forcing the Oklahoma pro to alter his game plan and ply less familiar waters.   

Prior to the start of official practice on February 26th, Evers hadn’t had his boat on Grand Lake since last November. “I took a friend of mine from Oologah Schools fishing.  We fished down the lake, and it was clear and we caught a lot of little fish,” he explained.  “I fished it a lot last winter, but it was really clear.  I never made a cast above Horse Creek, not one time.  This tournament was really brand new to me.  

“I know that lower end really well and I wanted it to go down down there, but it was just muddy.  It was not anything like I needed it to be,” he continued.  “It’s just weird how these things work out.  Here I am, the Classic champion, (and I fished) a whole complete end of the lake where if you had told me it could be won, I’d of said ‘no way.’”

The 29-3 limit was the largest that Evers’ has ever weighed-in in any tournament that he’s fished on Grand Lake before.  While he was surprised, he said that the big weight wasn’t shocking for several reasons.  

“This lake is so phenomenal, it can happen when you hit it right.” Evers also said that local tournaments on Grand don’t often see mega bags because of the fishing pressure and number of tournament boats on the water.  “When you put 250 boats on this lake, it all gets divided up.  When you only have 50 of us out there, it can happen.  If the lake was in prime condition, you’d see a lot of those (big limits) with just 50 boats out there fishing.”  

While this tournament will be remembered most for the 29-3 limit out of the Elk River, Evers pointed out that he relied on other locations over the course of the first two days.  “It’s a three day tournament and I spent time in three different areas.”  

On Friday, Evers’ lightest day, he keyed on shallow rock in the mid lake area and caught all his fish cranking a Megabass Flap Slap.

Realizing that his primary pattern was dying, Evers’ adjusted on Saturday and spent the morning fishing new stretches in the mid lake area.  Fishless at 10:30, he went into damage control.  “I went way up the river and I started flipping my all-time confidence baits, a Zoom Z-Hog and a War Eagle Spinnerbait.”  The move paid off with a 17+ pound limit and put him back into contention heading into Sunday.  

He started Sunday on a large flat up the Elk River, and mined the area for the majority of the day. “The water is flowing all the time (in the Elk) and it’s crystal clear and it’s beautiful,” explained Evers. “It hits a flat, and this flat is wide but shallow where the water has to go over it.  After a flood, it deposits lots of logs, but it is crystal clear water.

“On that flat, there are veins where the current has made it just a little bit deeper,” he continued. “There are laydowns that (the bass) use as kind of a home. The best laydowns had a little undercut right next to them where there was a little dark spot where they could hide.  The fish were just sitting there, facing up in the current.” 

He fished a brown 5/16oz. Andy’s Custom Bass Lures Andy’s E Series Finesse Jig tipped with a Zoom Lil Critter trailer, and used 12lb. test Bass Pro Shops Fluorocarbon line.  “It’s a really cool jig and one of the few companies that still uses living round rubber,” he stated.  “It’s something that you have to have in clear water situations.” 

Evers allowed that the fact he was battling his friend and fellow Oklahoman Jason Christie for the Classic title was a unique situation.    

“Normally, at most events, we stay together and talk quite a bit about general stuff,” he explained. “This week, we talked a little bit at the media deal and here and there, but we really didn’t ever dive off into the fishing (talk).  Once the tournament started, I don’t think that we ever talked to each other, other than saying ‘good job’ or ‘good luck’ at the morning takeoff. It’s kind of weird.  We are friends all year long, but when this event rolled around we were definitely competitors against each other, so we didn’t talk a whole lot.”


Further details and patterns of Jason Christie and other top finishers will be posted on Monday.