By Todd Ceisner
Kade Evers knew it all along.
The spry and confident 6-year-old son of Elite Series pro Edwin Evers predicted even before the Kentucky Lake BASSFest got under way that the other 123 competitors had better watch out – his dad was fixing to capture another victory.
“My son told me I was going to win from the get-go,” Evers said. “It was the funniest thing ever because he was dead serious about it, too. It gave me goose bumps when he said it.”
Even on the final day, when the tension was its highest and other competitors were trying to pry the lead away from Evers, Kade stood by his prediction.
“(On Sunday) my wife was trying to check on BASSTrakk,” Evers said, “and she said Kade asked her what she was doing. ‘I’m trying to check on how dad’s doing,’ she told him. Kade goes, ‘Mom, put the phone away. I told you dad’s going to win. Let’s go swimming.’”
Evers said he appreciated his son’s confidence in him because there were times he wasn’t sure his lead would hold up.
“I thought about it earlier in the event, but to think about it and to do it are two different things,” he said.
You know what else gives people goose bumps? Catching two 8-pounders (and another bass almost 7 pounds) off virtually the same spot in the span of 4 days like Evers did in claiming the victory. While Evers certainly caught plenty of other quality fish last week, his victory will be remembered for the giants he plucked off an area that he’d fished 5 years ago when he finished 2nd to Kevin VanDam, who oddly enough, was the runner-up this time around.
Evers never caught less than 21-02 over the 4 days he competed and his 97-04 total was 3 pounds better than VanDam’s.
Here’s how he did it.
Evers’ track record on the Tennessee River is pretty solid. In 13 previous Elite Series tournaments held on TVA lakes, he’d made 10 cuts, including five Top-12s. At Kentucky Lake, he had finishes of 8th, 12th, 68th and 2nd prior to last week.
His confidence didn’t exactly soar during the practice period that featured overcast skies and unseasonably cool temperatures that prevented the water from warming to its usual levels for early June. There also was a pretty strong current moving through the lake, but a north wind in practice pushed against it, making it difficult to get a true read on some areas.
There were schools of fish to be found on the ledges, but the schools weren’t the massive, tightly-packed groups competitors are used to seeing. The 400-boat Triton Owners Tournament preceded the Elite Series’ arrival and much of the talk in the days leading up to BASSFest was how “beat up” the fish were from all the pressure. The schools had been scattered out, either as a result of the fishing pressure or the conditions or a combination of both.
Evers said he found “three or four groups of fish that weren’t on the beaten path,” but that was pretty much it. Typically, Kentucky Lake is a place where 20 to 30 spots might not be enough because other boats may have found the same areas.
He also spent a little time on the spot that he fished in the 2010 Elite Series.
“I got one bite there, but they get so much pressure,” he said. “That’s why I didn’t stop there until late one afternoon.”
By the end of the day Tuesday, he wasn’t quite sure how the tournament would play out.
“It wasn’t a good practice at all,” he said. “I was actually pretty worried about things. I had only those three or four spots I’d found and nothing else.”
> Day 1: 5, 24-00
> Day 2: 5, 27-02
> Day 3: 5, 21-02
> Day 4: 5, 25-00
> Total = 20, 97-04
Evers' worries were allayed pretty quickly on day 1 as he decided to start on a shallow spot where he threw a 5-inch swimbait and caught a 5-pounder and a couple more keepers. He described it as the end of an old road that fell off from 6 to 12 feet and had a mix of rock and grass.
His second area was the head of an island in 4 to 6 feet and that’s where he loaded the boat on a Megabass Spark Shad swimbait.
“I went to my second spot and jacked ‘em,” he said, adding that once he had 24 pounds in the livewell, he began to search for new areas to add to the rotation. “I decided to save my other spots.”
Evers claimed big fish honors on 3 of the 4 days, including Sunday when he landed his 8-11 giant.
He had his best day of the tournament on Thursday, thanks to an 8-pounder he caught off the spot he’d found 5 years ago. It anchored his 27-02 bag that carried him to the lead. He said he wished he knew why the spot was so special.
“It’s just a river ledge with a little depression in it,” he said. “I’d love to know why they’re there, but there are big ones there. Every time I went to fish it, there was a boat on it. I finished 2nd on it last time and I think I exposed it.”
Prior to catching his kicker, he caught a limit on the Spark Shad again, then worked through a deep-diving Megabass crankbait, another swimbait for deeper water and a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm.
“It evolved as it went on,” he said. “I was afforded the luxury to have a decent bag of 18 or 19 pounds pretty quick so I could start looking. I was able to increase my weights that way.
“I caught them shallow the first couple days, but that went away because of the lack of current and the water clearing up. On the last 2 days, I went deeper. The fishing got a lot better as the week went on for us.”
Saturday found Evers going through his key spots over and over throughout the day and he wasn’t able to scout out any more new locales. The current had slacked off nearly in half and the water had cleared up, so his productive shallow areas were no longer in play.
Still, his 21-02 kept him in the lead entering the final day. He introduced a bucktail jig to his bait rotation Saturday and it yielded several key fish. He also threw a hollow-belly swimbait when working over deeper schools.
He picked up a spinning rod for three casts on Sunday morning, but quickly stowed it.
“I wasn’t going to win on a spinning rod,” he quipped.
He went back to what had been working, but after a slower morning, he considered making a move 10 miles south to a group of fish he didn’t have a ton of confidence in. Instead, he opted to cycle through his key areas again and hit a couple afternoon flurries that catapulted him to the win, punctuated by the 8-11 brute that took big bass honors for the tournament.
“Getting those big bites here is so key,” he said. “My deeper fish were all related to ledges in 10 to 15 feet. Generally, if I didn’t get a bite on my first cast, I’d move around a little to see if they moved or where they went to.”
Evers targeted deeper schools with the Megabass Deep-Six crankbait and caught many of his shallow fish on the Spark Shad swimbait.
Winning Gear Notes
> Swimbait gear: 7’6” heavy-action Bass Pro Shops Carbonlite casting rod, Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier casting reel (5.2:1 gear ratio), 17-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon line, 1/2- to 1-oz. unnamed swimbabit heads, 5” Megabass Spark Shad (albino).
> The depth he was fishing dictated how heavy a jighead he used on the swimbait, but he mainly threw it in 4 to 6 feet of water. He also put a chartreuse line down each side of the bait.
> He would let the swimbait go to the bottom before he started his retrieve. “Fishing that Spark Shad shallow, the bites were unbelievable,” he said. “They’d choke that thing and would almost knock the rod out of your hand.”
> Worm gear: Same rod, same reel (7.1 gear ratio), same line, 3/4-oz. Swampers Head Turner shaky-head, Zoom Magnum Trick Worm (red bug).
> Cranking gear: 7’6” medium-heavy Bass Pro Shops cranking rod, same reel as worm, 12-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon line, Megabass Deep-Six crankbait (sexy French pearl).
> Hair jig gear: Same rod as swimbait/worm, same reel as worm/crankbait, 14-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon line, 1/2-oz. homemade bucktail jig (white).
> A friend tied the bucktail jig for Evers using hair from a deer taken on Evers’ farm.
The Bottom Line
> Main factor in his success – “Without a doubt my Lowrance electronics. You just can’t fish a tournament without those. Just seeing the fish on DownScan and SideScan, you can tell how they’re setting up and how they’re positioning.”
> Performance edge – “My Nitro Z-21 is just an awesome boat. It’s so comfortable to fish out of and with it being a lot lower to the water, I’m able to land fish more comfortably.”
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