Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 05/12/2013

Story by Matt Pangrac and Dave Rush- Photos by Matt Pangrac

Edwin Evers Montgomery, AL – Entering the final day of competition on the Alabama River with a 1-pound, 3-ounce lead over his closest pursuer, reigning Toyota Angler Of the Year, Brent Chapman, knew that he had to turn in a strong performance in order to capture his second Elite Series title in as many years.  

It was little secret that Chapman had spent the majority of the tournament milking a small area below the Lake Jordan dam, making the treacherous run through boulders and whitewater each day to reach his spotted bass nirvana.  With rapidly falling water on Saturday, Chapman was wary as to whether or not the area would hold out for another day.  “I was hoping to have more of a cushion going into tomorrow, but it looks like Edwin is going to make things really tough on me,” stated Chapman at the conclusion of Saturday’s weigh-in. 

Evers did just that on Sunday, bringing in a limit of Coosa River spotted bass weighing 17-12 to push his four day total weight of 20 spotted bass to an impressive 75-13.   For the first time all week, Chapman was unable to crack the 17-pound mark and settled with a limit weighing 14-13 to finish with 74-1 and fall 1-pound, 12-ounces short of Evers’ total.  

The Alabama River victory was Evers’ eighth career win with B.A.S.S. and his third Elite Series win, the others on the St. Johns River in 2011 and Lake Erie in 2007.  

Evers also maintained his lead in the Toyota Angler Of the Year race, earning the maximum of 100 TAOY points and stretching his lead to 25 points over Skeet Reese with three tournaments remaining in the 2013 Elite Series season.  

Alabama’s Steve Kennedy, who, like Chapman, also fished primarily below the Jordan Dam, finished in 3rd place with a total weight of 72-5, and Alton Jones finished in 4th with 71-8. Day One leader, John Murray, rounded out the top five with a total weight of 65-7.

The 5 Final Day Facts from the Alabama River:   
Tournament: Bassmaster Elite Series (May 9-12)
Location:  Alabama River – Montgomery, Alabama  
Winner: Edwin Evers (17-15, 17-12, 22-6, 17-12: 75-13)
2nd place weight: Brent Chapman (74-1)
Total weight separating 1st place from 12th place: 23-13

1st Place: Edwin Evers (17-15, 17-12, 22-6, 17-12: 75-13)
What was your primary pattern throughout the week on the Alabama River? 
“My morning area was in the canal leading to the Bouldin Dam, and I was keying in on vertical banks that were clean and had a little shelf in eight to 10 feet of water.  It was really important the there wasn’t any grass or bushes under the water.  If there was a little turn in the direction of the bank, it made the area even better.  Basically, I was just looking for areas where the current made a direct hit on a vertical wall that was clean.

“Along with fishing in the Bouldin Canal area, I also fished in the Coosa, Tallapoosa River, and Alabama River around the Cooters Pond area. The fish were right up on the bank earlier in the week, but they moved out deeper as the tournament progressed and the water dropped. “

Edwin EversWhat were your primary baits and tactics?
“I caught a lot of my fish flipping a Zoom Z-Hog Jr. in California 420 color.   It is a small creature bait that I have a lot of confidence in, and I think that the smaller profile was important and really worked well for me.  I fished the Z-Hog on Bass Pro Shops Braid with a 20-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. 

“I also caught fish on a couple different shad colored crankbaits, and I caught some of my fish on a War Eagle spinnerbait.   One of my really key fish today came on a War Eagle spinnerbait in Spot Remover color.”

What was the overall key to your success on the Alabama River this week?
“The key for me really came down to keeping an open mind and fishing a little bit of new water every day. If I had a waypoint where I caught them in practice, I’d keep moving around during the tournament until I found where the fish had moved to.  Most of the time, they had relocated within 100 yards in either direction of my initial waypoint and it was just a matter of finding them.  

“I really felt like the tournament was going to be won up north, even though I’ve always fished down south on this river in the past.  I had a good practice day up north and decided that was where I was going to fish, even though I almost talked myself out of it because of the falling water.”  

Edwin Evers What was the most challenging or surprising aspect to your week on the Alabama River?
“The most challenging aspect was the nonstop changes that took place during the four days with the current and the water level.  Hooking those big spotted bass was also really challenging.  I was flipping with braided line on a heavy action rod, and I would hit the fish as hard as I could and it was like I hadn’t even touched them because they are just so strong.  Those Coosa spots are just awesome fish to catch.”  

How would you assess your decision making and execution on the water?
“Today, I stuck with my game plan. I caught two big fish early, and I always underestimate the weight of my fish.  I thought that they were 3-pounders, and I guess they were 4-pounders.  

“I had a spot in the Cooters Pond area that I had been saving all week, and that spot really saved me today because I pulled up and the spot was on fire.  I also had some key backup water in the Tallapoosa that saved me on the second day of the tournament. I ran over 125 miles each day, but I really never considered running to the Jordan Dam area.  I did that in practice, but I felt like the water was going to fall (during the tournament).”  

2nd Place: Brent Chapman (17-12, 23-5, 18-3, 14-13: 74-1)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
“The key for me this week had to be tying up to the poison ivy covered tree in the river so that I could hold in the current.  Once I did that, I was able to hold my place and that’s when I realized how many fish were in that spot.” 

Brent ChapmanWhat was your pattern throughout the week?
“Randy Howell was nice enough to go up there (by the Jordan Dam) on Wednesday of practice and kind of show me around.  He told me that I needed to fish a creek mouth because he had a couple of bites there, so I fished it on the first day of the tournament.  I realized that it was a place that could replenish and that it had potential. 

“I could tie up and fish one little key spot, and I realized what was really there on the second day.  When they’re hitting a spinnerbait and a swimbait on the fall, you know that the bite is good. You really had to see where the eddy was and then throw the bait up there as far as possible and count it down.  When you started reeling, the spotted bass would almost literally take the rod out of your hand.” 

“I didn’t go up there today because of the water level, so I stayed down and tried to be a little bit more conservative.” 

What were your primary baits and tactics?
“I caught fish on a variety of spinnerbaits including a ¾-ounce War Eagle double willow leaf in Spot Remover Color.  I also used several different jigs including a Mesu Bait Company Wobble Head with a TightLines UV Beaver in Black/Blue.  I also used a ¾-ounce Mesu flipping jig in Green Pumpkin with a TightLines Bubba Craw as a trailer.  The other bait that I used was a 5” hollow belly swimbait.” 

3rd Place: Steve Kennedy (15-12, 16-1, 23-3, 17-5: 72-5)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
“It would have to be going up behind the (Jordan) dam.  They live there, and I know that they live there – the only thing that I had to figure out was how I was going to catch them.  I used a bunch of different baits, and you could really read where the fish would be sitting based on the current.”

What was your pattern throughout the week?
“There were times this week when I could call my shot and pretty much knew that I was going to get a bite.  I had never been above the bridge in Wetumpka ever before, but I just know how to catch these spotted bass in the shoals and rocks.  It’s a type of fishing that I absolutely love to do.

“I was fishing really fast current, and the key was to get the bait down out of sight in really fast water places.  I was looking for the fastest water that I could find, and the fish would be holding right there in the little eddies. It’s pretty intense fishing.”

What were your primary baits and tactics?
“The big deal for me this week was a 1-ounce to 1 ½-ounce spinnerbait with double willow leaf blades. They didn’t set up on that stuff today for some reason, so I moved down and used a jighead with a swimbait/grub trailer.”  

4th Place: Alton Jones (16-6, 20-4, 17-4, 17-10: 71-8)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
“The main key for me this week was figuring out that the fish were very shallow for the first three days.  I had to adjust today and move out a little bit, but the fish were literally on the bank to get out of the current.”

What was your pattern throughout the week?
“I never really found a specific spot.  I spent the week running sections of bank and making enough casts until I finally put the bait in front of one.  Some stretches of bank were 50 yards long and others were over 100 yards long. 

“Early in the week, the fish were in the middle of willow bushes and I was dragging them through trees getting them to the boat.  The water really dropped today, and I realized that the banks I had been fishing were all vertical soapstone walls.  I just started flipping the bank and letting my jig drop down the wall.”

What were your primary baits and tactics?
“Today, most of my fish came on a ¾-ounce Booyah jig with a Yum chunk. The rest of the week, all my fish came on a Yum Mighty Craw in black and blue that I Texas-rigged with a punch-skirt so that it would look like a jig. On the first two days, the cover that I was fishing was so thick that a jig would just constantly hang up, so that’s why I went with the Texas-rig.  

5th Place: John Murray (18-9, 14-1, 14-1, 18-12: 65-7)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
“The key was definitely my commitment to the upper portion of the river. The first time that I was here, I learned that you can catch a lot more fish upriver but the bigger ones come downriver.”

What was your pattern throughout the week?
“The river really changed over the course of the tournament.  I’d say that there was at least a seven foot difference in the water level from the first day to today, and the fish just repositioned.  I mainly flipped for the first part of the tournament, but I changed to a jig, crankbait, and swimbait on the weekend and especially today. I was looking for the hardest current that I could find.”

What were your primary baits and tactics?
“I was throwing a River2Sea jig and a bunch of different crankbaits.  The key to the crankbait was just a really fast retrieve.” 

6th Place: Tommy Biffle (11-9, 16-6, 17-10, 17-7: 63-0)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"The water being high and the river having so much current was the key for me this week.  It just set up right for those big spots to bite.  To me it is a whole lot easier to catch those big spots than it is the largemouth on this river, so that’s what I keyed on.”

What was your pattern throughout the week?
"Mainly I was just keying on current breaks in the main river.  I was also fishing some gravel bars, but mostly just structure that made a hard current break."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Gene Larew Biffle Bug, Gene Larew Biffle Hardhead, prototype River2Sea jig.

7th Place: Bobby Lane (17-15, 16-4, 16-13, 10-8: 61-8)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"Most of my big fish came this week on a crankbait and the only way to get that bait to hit the bottom was to use a really fast reel.  I was using a Revo STX with an 8:1 gear ratio, and that was the only way I could get that bait down even in 5 to 6 feet of water because that current was rolling at 10 to 12 mph."

What was your pattern throughout the week?
"I was just running the heavy current every morning.  I had a boat ramp up the river that I could catch them on every morning with a jig, and then throw the crankbait in there and get them fired up.  Today I ran up there, and the boat ramp was completely out of the water so I just had to scramble around and make the best of it. "

What were your primary baits and tactics?
3/4oz Jig, Berkley Chigger Craw (Saphire Blue), Berkley Chigger Quad, Sebile Bull Crank

8th Place: Aaron Martens (15-15, 12-5, 18-12, 13-12: 60-12)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"My knowledge of the fishery helped me out this week, and also the techniques I figured out that were working.  I basically had a 40 mile stretch of river to myself today, so I think I was in the wrong area but made the most out of what I had.  If I had decided to go up where most of the bigger bags were coming from I probably could have done much better this week."

What was your pattern throughout the week?
"I was looking for the most current in the areas I was keying on.  Fishing points and ledges that created current breaks was the most productive, but basically just anything that broke the current was what I was fishing."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Davis Vibe 1/2oz Spinnerbait, Davis Aaron Martens Shaky Head,  Davis Shaky Fish

9th Place: David Walker (14-0, 16-9, 20-4, 9-5: 60-2)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"The main deal here this week was the high water.  It really knocked out that local knowledge factor because it was basically a whole new river.  It allowed me to fish for fresh fish that not many other people were fishing for. Also, taking my time and being patient was a big key for me this week also. "

What was your pattern throughout the week?
"I basically was fishing shallow cover that created current breaks.  Early in the tournament I was keying on any place I could actually get near the bank, and then as the water fell throughout the week I started keying on the exposed rock that created current breaks. "

What were your primary baits and tactics?
Jig (Black/Blue), Live Target Crankbait, 1/2oz Spinnerbait

10th Place: Paul Elias (18-4, 16-1, 10-4, 15-1: 59-10)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"The key for me was making the decision to fish for spots this week and not for largemouth.  I had a really good practice and was able to locate some areas in the main river where the bigger spots seemed to be holding."

What was your pattern throughout the week?
"I was paralleling the current breaks in the main river when the water was really moving.  Today when it slacked off I think the fish actually moved in and I was flipping to the bushes. "

What were your primary baits and tactics?
 Paul Elias Manns Legend Spinnerbait, ¾ oz Manns Stone Jig, ¾ oz Football Jig

11th Place: Randy Howell (17-0, 14-14, 12-3, 11-7: 55-8)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"The biggest key for me this week was just sticking with that heavy current.  Anytime I got out of the heavy current I really just didn’t catch many fish.  Unfortunately that heavy current just didn’t hold up for me today.  "

What was your pattern throughout the week?
"I was keying in on the current breaks this week.  The bigger spots seemed to like the edges of the current breaks, so I was trying to focus on them when I was up the river.  Today I stayed around here and fished for largemouth some, since the water flow was down and just keyed on various pieces of cover off of the main river."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
NetBait Swimbait, Gary Yamamoto Worm, Lunker Lure ¾ oz Football Jig, Livingston Crankbait

12th Place: Skeet Reese (15-4, 11-15, 19-13, 5-0: 52-0)
What was the biggest key to success this week?
"Making the adjustment yesterday and heading up the river was key.  I had some knowledge from years past that allowed me to go to some spots with hard current, and sure enough they were on. "

What was your pattern throughout the week?
"I was just fishing little hard rock points that had current breaks on them yesterday.  The first couple of days I was really just scraping up whatever I could in the backwater areas and some main river stuff here pretty close to the launch."

What were your primary baits and tactics?
½ oz Football Jig, 3” Berkley Chigger Craw (Green Pumpkin), 1oz Spinnerbait, Berkley Hollow Belly, 3/8 oz Black Buzzbait



Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4 Total Fish Total Weight
1 Edwin Evers 5 17-15 5 17-12 5 22- 6 5 17-12 20 75-13
2 Brent Chapman 5 17-12 5 23- 5 5 18- 3 5 14-13 20 74- 1
3 Stephen Kennedy 5 15-12 5 16- 1 5 23- 3 5 17- 5 20 72- 5
4 Alton Jones 5 16- 6 5 20- 4 5 17- 4 5 17-10 20 71- 8
5 John Murray 5 18- 9 5 14- 1 5 14- 1 5 18-12 20 65- 7
6 Tommy Biffle 5 11- 9 5 16- 6 5 17-10 5 17- 7 20 63- 0
7 Bobby Lane 5 17-15 5 16- 4 5 16-13 5 10- 8 20 61- 8
8 Aaron Martens 5 15-15 5 12- 5 5 18-12 5 13-12 20 60-12
9 David Walker 5 14- 0 5 16- 9 5 20- 4 5 9- 5 20 60- 2
10 Paul Elias 5 18- 4 5 16- 1 5 10- 4 5 15- 1 20 59-10
11 Randy Howell 5 17- 0 5 14-14 5 12- 3 5 11- 7 20 55- 8
12 Skeet Reese 5 15- 4 5 11-15 5 19-13 3 5- 0 18 52- 0