By Todd Ceisner
For as many times as Edwin Evers has competed at Lake Conroe – four Toyota Texas Bass Classics and the 2017 Bassmaster Classic – he felt like he’d seen all there was to see there.
Boy, was he wrong?
Turns out a quiet, backwater canal in the mid-lake area had escaped him all these years and it sure served him well last week during the Bass Pro Tour stop there.
“I’d never been in that area before,” he said. “I found it on the map. I don’t know why I hadn’t been there before. I’d been there enough and feel like I know it as good as any lake in the country.”
While several other competitors rotated around each other in the back of another creek, Evers managed to be off by himself, allowing him to exploit the canal that he first sampled during the Elimination Round. It was an uncommon occurrence based on his past experience at Conroe, which is notorious for fooling anglers into thinking certain areas are worth coming back to day after day. Under MLF’s immediate-release format, though, anglers can never truly fish an area out.
“You just know to have lots of areas and backup plans to backup plans and fish new water there,” Evers said.
That canal turned out to be all he needed and it allowed him to rebound from a slow Shotgun Round, when he caught just 11-03. When it came time to spend an entire day in there, he walloped 51-12 on the final day, including a mic-drop 8-pounder on his last cast to pull away for an 11-pound victory.
Being the only one that he knows of who fished in that canal was one of the key factors in his victory. Additionally, he knew when to back off and preserve the area when he knew the weights would be zeroed for the Knockout and Championship rounds.
“It was huge, it was everything,” Evers said.
Here are some additional details about Evers’ Texas triumph.
When the field arrived at Conroe, it was greeted by chilly, muddy water. Evers wasn’t discouraged, though.
“I just wanted to find areas I thought fish could move into,” he said. “With the (full) moon coming up, I looked for the areas with the best water clarity and visibility that were protected from the wind.”
Finding any water that wasn’t heavily stained proved to be a challenge. Even the canal that Evers didn’t wander into until his second day of competition had some serious stain to it.
“It wasn’t the cleanest water I’d found but it was Oklahoma fishable,” he said.
> Shotgun Round: 5, 11-03
> Elimination Round: 10, 28-12 (15, 39-15)
> Knockout Round: 14, 29-02
> Championship Round: 24, 51-12
> Total = 53, 120-13
Evers said the Shotgun Round was more of a feeling-out day and it showed as he managed just five bass for 11-03, which had him in 19th place in Group B.
“It was a brutal day,” he said. “I was just trying to get some bites and was in search mode from the start. I focused on finding shallow water where I thought they’d be spawning.”
He got off to better start in the Elimination Round, boating a 5-pounder in the first 10 minutes and racking up 15-06 in the first period to improve of his chances of moving on to the Knockout Round.
The second period is when he started poking around in the canal where he ultimately won the event.
“Once I got in there, I had a feeling that’s where it could go down. I got bit immediately,” he said.
He caught a couple 2-pounders, then covered up his hook so he could shake off other fish. It wasn’t 100 percent effective as he wound up catching a 3-13 later in the day. He finished with 28-12 on the day and rocketed up to second in Group B.
He went back to the canal for the start of the Knockout Round and quickly caught 21-11 before leaving it alone to look for other options that he might need in the championship round. After a fish-less second period, he caught a 2-13 over a golf course walkway before returning to his canal to finish the day. He added two more fish in there and qualified for the finals with 29-02 (14 fish).
For Sunday’s final round, he went back into the canal and never left despite having some thoughts about vacating it later in the day. He tried to keep his baits – he caught the majority of his fish pitching a Berkley PowerBait Pit Boss – as close to the bank as possible. He mixed in a vibrating jig along with the same model jig that helped him win the 2016 Bassmaster Classic at Grand Lake.
“It helped to be open-minded and practicing as the tournament went along, and just fishing by the seat of my pants,” he said.
Winning Gear Notes
> Flipping/pitching gear: 7’6” heavy-action Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series Platinum casting rod, Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series Platinum casting reel (8.3:1 ratio), 20-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon line, 3/8-oz. Bass Pro Shops tungsten worm weight, 4/0 Berkley Fusion19 heavy cover hook, 4” Berkley PowerBait Pit Boss (black blue).
> Jig gear: 7’3” heavy-action Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Carbonlite 2.0 casting rod, same reel, same line (17-pound), 7/16-oz. Andy's Custom Bass Lures "E" Series Finesse Jig (green craw), 2.75” Berkley PowerBait Meaty Chunk trailer (green-pumpkin).
> He also caught a number of fish on a vibrating jig.
> Evers has yet to finish lower than 15th in six major tournaments at Conroe.
Much of the tackle referenced above is available at the BassFan Store. To browse the selection, click here.