Edwin Evers’ weekend perhaps eased his disappointment of not qualifying for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic.
The pro bass angler from Talala and former Southeastern Oklahoma State University football player won the season-ending Bassmaster Central Open tournament Sunday on Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin in a one-day fish off against Mark Smith of Louisiana.
Evers boated 14 pounds, 7 ounces on Sunday while Smith had 10-8.
The two anglers were tied with 35 pounds, 9-ounces after three days of fishing on Saturday and were forced to return Sunday for the one-day showdown.
Evers won $32,400. It was his fifth BASS tournament win. ”You just need to cherish each one,” he said. “They’re so hard to come by.”
Here are some more excerpts from my interview with pro bass fisherman Kevin VanDam, who was featured in Sunday’s “Collected Wisdom” in The Oklahoman newspaper.
On bass fishing as a kid:
“I definitely had a passion for it a young age. My grandparents had a place on the lake and I would go out there in the summer and stay a week at a time and that’s all I did, all day long, every day, was fish. My grandmother had a bell that she would ring, so that no matter where I was, walking the bank around the lake, that I could hear it to know to come in for lunch or dinner.
“I really started doing a lot of bass fishing at (age) 6. As a kid, I would fish for whatever would bite, but bass were probably my favorite.”
On fishing in his home state of Michigan:
“In Michigan, there are lots of lakes with salmon and trout. There are rivers with trout in them. The salmon run in the fall, the steelhead run in the spring. You got walleyes running in the spring. Walleye fishing in the summer. You got northern pike.. You got largemouth and smallmouth bass. The great thing it does is spread the pressure out on all the species, so none of them get too much. We have excellent bass fishing. Bass fishing is very popular there. There are lots of tournaments. It’s a big deal. There are tons of bass clubs.
On becoming a pro:
“By the time I was 18, I fished my first B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsmen’s Society) tournament. I went (to college) for two years. I never got a four-year degree. My brother opened a big sporting goods store and marine dealership. After two years of school, I started doing that and was still fishing tournaments. I started fishing full-time shortly thereafter.
“I wanted to go out and just see how good Larry Nixon, and Denny Brauer and Rick Clunn, Hank Parker and Roland Martin and all those guys were.
“At my brother’s store, some of those guys started making appearances there. I remember one time Larry Nixon and Tommy Martin came to our store and I was too embarrassed to go up and even talk to them.
“Those guys were extremely nice and very helpful to me early on. That’s one of the things I think is real special about our sport is that, we don’t have some of the issues that other sports do. You don’t see after a Sunday Packers-Bears game a whole lot of them going out and eating dinner together. It’s not like that with our group. We help each other out and hang out together. We spend so much time on the road at tournaments with these guys, they are like second families.”
On spending time with his boys:
“I got twin boys that are 12. One of my favorite things in the whole world to do is just be home with them. We love to fish and hunt. My kids, this is their first year for deer season at home, and both of them killed the first deer they had in the youth season at the end of September. I was so passionate about the outdoors, both fishing and hunting, that I really hope that they have that same drive that I did. It’s something, for me, that would be really fun to share. I remember the times I hunted and fished with my dad, and I still do, and at the time I never really thought much about it. Now, I know what he went through, the patience that he had with me, which wasn’t easy at times. I am just hoping to get the same opportunties to share some of that.”
On the biggest misconception about pro bass fishing:
“Non-fisherman, especially, think there is a lot of luck involved. That you got out there on the water and you just sit back and cast out and wait for the fish to come and bite. I don’t believe in luck at all. Getting them to bite in the first place is not luck. There’s a lot to it. It’s a science that is far from exact.
“Compared to other sports, there is so much guess work in it. It’s very much a mental sport. We don’t know where they’re at. We can’t see them. We are just guessing based on the season and water conditions and lake conditions and things. It’s like golfing where the tee moves by the minute. All of a sudden you go to hit it at the flag and all of a sudden the flag is over here. It’s a challenge.”
On growing the sport through televised events:
“All of the tournament organizations are getting better at that. The challenge is it’s really expensive to do it. But now with the Internet, they are streaming the weigh-ins and footage during the days. It’s making it to where we have a true live event.”
On tournament bass fishing:
“I feel blessed that I have been able to make a living at something I truly love to do. To me, that is a real measure of success. Every day I get to go out and make a living at something I am passionate about.”
Carey Drake of Wichita, but originally from Tulsa, killed this nice 10-point buck in Lincoln County on the opening morning of blackpowder season.
Drake’s wife, Brooke, an Edmond native, was hunting with him in a box blind.
“I was convinced we would see very few deer due to the perfume billowing out of the blind,” Drake said. “Much to my surprise it was one of the better hunts I have been on in years.
“We saw four does early making their way from a food plot about 300 yards away. Then a coyoute paraded around in front of us. He got a little nervous but not before he put on a show for a few minutes.
“We sat for about 40 minutes without seeing anything and I thought the morning was over. Then, to my left, I caught a glimpse of a deer coming out of the creek. It was a very nice 9 point most Oklahomans would have taken.
“We watched him for a few minutes as he milled around about 100 yards away and he eventually bedded down in sight. I knew he needed a year or two more to mature, so I just enjoyed watching him.
“I was becoming impatient because I didn’t know how we were going to get out of the stand without spooking him. We waited about 15 minutes and I happened to look towards the spot he was bedded. That’s when he appeared. He was a 10-point with a broken tine on his rack that I believe to be 4½ years old.
“He finally made his way out of the creek and jumped the fence to near the 9 point. The 10-point established his dominance by laying his ears back ande lowering his head. They sparred and bullied each other for a short period of time.
“I knew the deeer was getting close to presenting an ethical shot opportunity and I became extremely nervous. The bucks separated and went on about their business.
“The big buck made his way into the sunlight, making his rack look even bigger.. It took all I had to calm myself and put the cross hairs on him. I shot and when the smoke cleared, he had ducked behind some cedar trees.
“I thought I made a good shot but you can never tell with black powder rifles. I waited about 40 minutes and slipped down to where I shot. I couldn’t find any hair or other signs of a good hit so I eased back to the stand to wait longer. I kept thinking maybe I had jerked the shot and missed completely.
“Another 30 minutes went by and I made my way back towards where I looked the first time. As I got closer to where he was standing when I made the shot, I heard something to my left not 20 yards away. I could see the brush moving and I moved for a closer look.
“I could see him laying down. Not knowing where he was originally hit and given the brush moving, I elected to use a follow-up shot to be safe. That shot did the trick and I recovered the deer. My first shot ended up being perfect. I honestly think a coyote had already located him and was making a quick exit when I walked down there the second time.”
Here are some more success stories from Oklahoma deer hunters during the blackpowder season.
Greg Reiter, formerly of Enid but now living in Bentonville, Ark., and his daughter, Tayler, 11, were hunting near Enid on the last day of muzzleloader season when this big buck came out in front of them chasing does.
“Tayler was able to get him to stop with a grunt call and I shot him at 200 yards,” Reiter said. “The big 12-point field dressed at 220 pounds and had a gross score of 169½. This was our biggest deer to harvest and provided us with an unforgettable father and daughter experience.”
They donated the meat to the Hunters Against Hunger program.