MARTENS VS. EVERS IN ALL-STAR FINALE
Story and photos by Matt Pangrac
Decatur, IL – The post-frontal conditions that faced the four remaining competitors at Toyota Trucks All-Star Week in Decatur, Illinois mirrored the fishing – tough.
On Saturday, number one seed Edwin Evers squared off against number four seed Gerald Swindle, and number two seed Ott DeFoe battled number three seed Aaron Martens to decide the final All-Star Week showdown.
Morning temperatures were in the low 40s and a strong north wind churned the already heavily stained water into a muddy soup. Add to that the fact that Lake Decatur, which features an average depth of less than eight feet, is well below winter pool due to a summer drought, and all four anglers knew that they were in for a grind.
While Gerald Swindle opted to stay on the main lake and hit as many shallow water targets as possible while covering water, Edwin Evers decided to make the treacherous trek across an ultra shallow flat to reach the deeper waters of the Sangamon River.
The move paid off for Evers, who boated four keepers on Saturday weighing 8-6. Swindle managed just a single keeper weighing 1-12 and was eliminated from All-Star Week.
In the other match that pitted DeFoe against Martens, both anglers spent the day targeting shallow water cover on Lake Decatur. DeFoe struggled, losing a bass boat side early in the day that he estimated at upwards of five pounds. He finished the day with one keeper weighing 2-12.
Martens started early, boating two keepers within the first two hours of competition. Throughout the day, he amassed a five bass limit and even culled once. His 8-13 effort was the heaviest bag of the day and easily vaulted him into the finals for a showdown against Edwin Evers.
Here’s how Evers and Martens broke down their Saturday matches on Lake Decatur:
Match: Edwin Evers vs. Gerald Swindle
Winner: Edwin Evers
Saturday on Lake Decatur: “To reach the water that I fished today, I had to go through the shallowest water that I’ve ever idled. If I could run it, it’d be no problem at all. Because it’s a no wake zone, I have to idle. The boat literally wasn’t floating – I had to dig a trench and really power my way up there.
“I got called a few names this morning by the duck hunters up there, but it was 8:45 by the time I got up there and I can assure you that there weren’t any ducks flying. The guy who cussed me out had a horrible looking decoy set, so there wasn’t any way that he was going to kill anything regardless of if I was there or not.
“The fish are definitely healthier up there; I didn’t catch any sick ones, that’s for sure.”
On getting back in his area on Sunday: “The water fell three to four inches today. If I can get in there, I’ll feel really good about my chances. It was actually a lot harder to get out of the area at the end of the day. The north wind blew all the water out of the area big time. If we get a south wind, I’ll be able to get in there for sure. There’s about a 10 yard stretch of the shallowest water where I have the boat pegged at 6,000 rpm’s and I’m just kicking up a mud rooster tail about 30 feet high.
“If I can’t get up there for some reason, I’m just going to put the trolling motor down and cover water as fast as I can around this pond making a big circle.”
On making it back to the All-Star Week finals for the second year in a row: “It feels great, but I’d love to win it this year. It would mean a lot to me.”
Match: Ott DeFoe vs. Aaron Martens
Winner: Aaron Martens
Saturday on Lake Decatur: “It was very hard to fish today with the wind. There are a lot of shallow obstacles out there and the water is so dirty that you can’t see anything. There’s almost zero visibility – an inch or two at the most.
“I caught six keepers today, but I had a lot of keeper bites. I probably had around 40 bites today, and I know that all of them weren’t bass but a lot of them were. I’d go down a stretch and miss two or three and then catch one. That happened all day long.
“I fished really hard and kept moving around trying to find new stuff.”
On the overall difficulty of fishing Lake Shelbyville and Lake Decatur: “Fishing these lakes has to make you a really good fisherman just because they’re so tough. In order to catch fish here, you have to become a pretty decent angler.
“I grew up in California, and if you didn’t know what you were doing it could be really tough. If you knew what you were doing though, you could catch 15 or 20 a day because they were just tough lakes with really good fish. I think that has made me a better fisherman. When you’re fishing really easy fisheries all the time, it’s not the best thing for increasing your ability.”
On what it will take to win on Sunday: “I’m sure that it’ll take a limit. I like to be in this position. It’s a one-on-one deal, so I’m excited to get things started. ”