One of my heroes just won the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on the St. Johns River. Rick Clunn earned his 15th career B.A.S.S. win, a total that includes four Bassmaster Classics.
When I was young and just getting into the sport, numbers like that really impressed me ⎯ they still do in a way ⎯ but the things that I admire most about Rick have nothing to do with his many trophies and everything to do with the way he carries himself on and off the water.
It’s true that I’ve learned a tremendous amount from watching Rick Clunn on television and in videos and by reading about his methods and theories, but I’ve learned even more by watching him with fans, fellow competitors and sponsors.
His loyalty to sponsors is well known among the pros. His respect for the fans is evident everywhere he sees and talks with them. I’ve learned at least as much from Rick when he didn’t have a rod and reel in his hands as when he did.
Another of the things I really admire about Rick is that you know where you stand with the man. There’s nothing false about him. He speaks the truth irrespective of how it might come across, and he treats people with respect.
TULSA, OK — For the first two days of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro, the buzz centered around local sensation Jason Christie of nearby Park Hill, Okla.
But on the final day, another of Oklahoma’s favorite sons stole the show.
Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., caught an incredible 29 pounds, 3 ounces of bass from Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees Sunday to push his three-day total weight to 60-7. The epic finish was enough to help him storm past Christie and the rest of the Classic field to earn a $300,000 payday and a spot in professional bass fishing history.
The win was Evers’ 11th with B.A.S.S., but his first time to raise the Classic trophy.
“It hasn’t quite hit me yet,” said Evers, who was fishing his 15th Classic. “I don’t know when it will. But I know 29 pounds on the last day of the Classic is big.”
Evers certainly didn’t seem like he was ready to win a Classic championship earlier in the week.
He spent most of Friday’s first round fishing shallow rocks with a crankbait. The pattern had worked well for him before competition began, but he believes it was zapped by the changing conditions.
He brought in only four fish that weighed 13-12.
“That pattern was really strong in practice, but it was going away,” Evers said. “The water was warming, and it just was not happening. I knew I had to do something different, and I feel like I made a really good decision that second day.”
Evers practiced what he called “damage control” during Saturday’s second round by making a long run up the Neosho River. He used a spinnerbait and a flipping stick to catch 17-8 and vault himself into third place.
“You could have a hundred Classics on Grand, and 99 times out of a hundred it wouldn’t be won with what I did the second day. It just helped me get back in it, as tough as things were.”
One factor that made things so tough the first two days was the lack of wind on Grand Lake. With the water calm and flat, bass hanging out in the shallows were skittish and reluctant to bite.
The conditions were so calm, in fact, that Evers neglected to go to a spot in the Elk River where he had caught some big fish on windy days in practice. But with strong winds blowing Sunday, he decided to make the run to the Elk and see if he could start his day with a big fish.
He did — and then he added four more big ones to bring in a five-bass limit that ranked as the heaviest of the three-day event by almost 9 pounds.
“I went in there just to try and get a couple of big bites,” Evers said. “I caught a couple of 7-pounders there in practice. But it was real windy and blowing when I caught those fish, and it had to be that way to catch them in there.”
Mother Nature toyed with him a little early, but the conditions eventually played right into his hands.
“When I got in there and the wind wasn’t blowing, I was getting antsy,” Evers said. “Then I caught one of those big ones, and it just settled me down. I knew I could make something happen in there.
“I still wasn’t expecting to catch 29 pounds, but it all worked out.”
The magic bait for Evers on his magic day was a 5/16-ounce jig that he helped design for Andy’s Custom Bass Lures. It was green, brown and orange, but he said the material used to build the bait was the most important element.
“Andy is one of the few guys where you can still buy that old flat brown rubber,” Evers said. “In clear water, that’s the deal.”
While parts of Grand Lake were heavily stained this week, Evers found crystal-clear water in the Elk River.
“I was focusing on a flat that the current was hitting really hard,” Evers said. “It’s a flat with water coming over the top of it, and it has all types of laydowns. The water was so clear I could see the fish in there.”
Evers is the third straight angler to win the Classic in his home state, following South Carolina angler Casey Ashley’s win last year on Lake Hartwell and Alabamian Randy Howell’s victory in 2014 on Lake Guntersville.
For much of the week, it seemed like Christie would be the Oklahoma angler to hold that distinction. But after landing five-bass limits that weighed 20-14 and 16-11 the first two days, he managed only four fish that weighed 12-9.
Christie caught all of his fish using a heavy spinnerbait with a swimbait trailer.
“All of the rain we had during the winter really made this tournament interesting,” Christie said. “I would love to have gone out there and thrown a Rogue (jerkbait) the whole time. That’s what I prepared for in December.
“But that’s what the Classic is all about — changing conditions. It’s a tough tournament to win.”
Marty Robinson of Lyman, S.C., earned the GoPro Big Bass Award of $1,000 for his Day 1 bass weighing 7 pounds.
GENERAL TIRE MAKING A SPLASH IN PRO BASS FISHING
• Sponsoring Four Bassmaster Elite Series Pro Anglers
• Partnering with FLW and the Bassmaster Elite Series
• Continuing Sponsorship of Major League Fishing
FORT MILL, S.C. – (February 24, 2016) General Tire wants to be a known brand among professional bass anglers and fans of the ever-growing sport of bass fishing. In an effort to accomplish that goal, the tire brand has created an aggressive strategy that includes the sponsorship of four top pro anglers on the Bassmaster Elite Series, partnering with B.A.S.S., Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) and Major League Fishing (MLF).
General Tire is joining forces with the 2009 Bassmaster Classic champion and the 2007 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, Skeet Reese. The Auburn, California resident will prominently feature the General Tire brand on his eye-catching Ford F650, on his signature bright yellow Ranger boat and in the center of his tournament jersey.
“I'm really excited to be working with such a respected company like General Tire,” stated Skeet Reese. “They’ll be a great asset to our sport and will help expose fishing to a whole new consumer.” “I look forward to sharing General Tire’s message with our loyal bass fishing fans,” said Reese.
Joining Reese on the General Tire roster is 10-time B.A.S.S. winner and three time runner up to the coveted Angler of the Year award, Edwin Evers. The Talala, Oklahoma native will feature the General Tire brand on his Nitro boat, his Toyota Tundra and on his tournament jersey.
"I couldn't be more excited to be with a company who is going to be so involved with fishing,” said Edwin Evers. “They have made a big commitment to support bass fishing and I am looking forward to our partnership together.” “I've been a customer of General Tire through the years and can confidently say that they make a great tire," revealed Evers.
Both anglers will be featured in new television and print advertising campaigns for the brand. The powerhouse anglers of Reese and Evers will be joined by fellow Bassmaster Elite Series anglers John Crews and Britt Myers who both were part of General Tire’s entry into pro angler support in 2015. Crews, of Salem, Virginia; has eight Bassmaster Classic appearances and a win in the always tough Bassmaster Elite Series. Myers of Lake Wylie, S.C. is a regular on the Bassmaster Elite Series and also owns and operates CS Motorsports which customizes the trucks of many of the pro anglers who compete on tour.
To complement the pro angler support, General Tire will join B.A.S.S. as a media partner that will feature print ads in both Bassmaster magazine and B.A.S.S. Times in addition to television commercials on ESPN2 and ESPN Classic. The partnership will also allow General Tire to activate at four Bassmaster Elite Series events on the 2016 schedule.
“We applaud General Tire for selecting four of the top-performing professional anglers on the Bassmaster Elite Series to represent the brand,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “And we’re thrilled that the company is reaching out to its potential customers through our Elite Series events, which recorded an average attendance of nearly 20,000 per tournament in 2015.”
To be sure General Tire is plugged into all corners of the pro bass fishing world, they will also join Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) as an ‘Official Sponsor.” As part of their package, General Tire will become the presenting sponsor of all Walmart FLW Tour event take-off ramps that will feature signage and an inflatable arch located near each boat ramp on the tour. The tire brand will also have a branded boat participating in each Walmart FLW Tour event, hospitality and activation opportunities along with television commercials within each broadcast.
“We’re excited to announce our partnership with General Tire and welcome them to the FLW family,” said FLW president of marketing, Trish Blake. “FLW’s members and fans are among the most loyal consumers available and General Tire will now have access to the hundreds of thousands of anglers that we reach each month.”
General Tire will also continue their role as the exclusive tire sponsor of Major League Fishing that they began in 2013. The tire brand will remain as the title sponsor of the General Tire Summit Cup, support the Summit Selects, offer a branded boat in each event and be featured in television commercials.
"General Tire has been a fantastic partner of MLF and as we have grown, General Tire immediately responded and has grown with us," stated Jim Wilburn general manager of Major League Fishing.
“We are thrilled to have these opportunities to get more involved in the sport of bass fishing,” said Travis Roffler, director of marketing for General Tire. “Our family of products fit perfectly with the needs of bass fishing enthusiasts and we are elated to have these relationships in place to help us connect with them.”
For more information or to locate a tire dealer, visit GeneralTire.com.
Tell us about your fishing adventures @GeneralTire using #AnywhereIsPossible
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2016 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 235 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. For more information visit FLWFishing.com and follow FLW at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Periscope: @FLWFishing.
About Major League Fishing Major League Fishing is a partnership that includes some of the world’s most talented influential professional bass anglers and Outdoor Channel. For more information about the new game with new rules and no limits, visit www.majorleaguefishing.com.
About General Tire
For 100 years General Tire has offered a complete quality line of ultra-high performance, passenger, light truck, off-road and commercial tires to meet all your needs. General Tire is a proud supporter of ARCA; Best in the Desert Racing Series; Major League Fishing; King of the Cage; Lucas Oil – Off Road Racing Series, Late Model Dirt Series, Pro Pulling League, Modified Series, Drag Boat Racing Series and ASCS Sprint Car Dirt Series; Expedition Overland; FreestyleMx.com Tour; Zero One Odyssey; and Spec Tire of JeepSpeed. Team GT supports athletes: CJ Hutchins, Jim Beaver, Jeff Proctor, Chase Motorsports, Doug Fortin, Jim Riley, Camburg Racing, Lee Banning Sr., Bryan Folks, Jerett Brooks, Carl Renezeder and Stan Shelton.
About Continental AG
Continental develops intelligent technologies for transporting people and their goods. As a reliable partner, the international automotive supplier, tire manufacturer, and industrial partner provides sustainable, safe, comfortable, individual, and affordable solutions. In 2014, the corporation generated sales of approximately €34.5 billion with its five divisions, Chassis & Safety, Interior, Powertrain, Tire, and ContiTech. Continental currently employs more than 208,000 people in 53 countries.
For media information, visit www.ctamedia.com.
When you think about it, tournament bass fishing can be one of the most frustrating sports in the world. Most of our casts go untouched. Even the best anglers only win a very small percentage of the tournaments they enter, and it’s easy to get fixated on the stuff that goes wrong rather than on the things that go right.
It would be easy to fall into a very negative outlook about such things, but I try hard to be positive and to think that all of the things that don’t work out are really just endless opportunities to learn. If you don't take that approach, it could drive you crazy.
In 2013, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic was on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees (just as it is this year). It was the closest the Classic had ever come to my home in Oklahoma, and I had high expectations for myself. I truly thought it could be “my tournament to win.”
I finished 25th – inside the cut, but well out of contention. It was very disappointing, but I learned a lot and hope to use what I learned to help me have a much better Classic in 2016 … maybe even win it.
I think my biggest surprise in 2013 was the amount of media coverage and the media demands that were placed on me because I was fishing close to home and wound up on a lot of people’s short lists to do well. The attention was flattering, but it was also extremely distracting and took up a lot of time.
I know what to expect this year, and I can’t let the media attention take my eyes off the ball again.
Anyone who knows me knows how important my family is to me. In 2013, because the Classic was here in Oklahoma where a lot of my family lives, I had aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws and a lot of other people near and dear to me converging on the event. Many of them had never been to a bass tournament before. Lots of them stayed at our home. During practice and even during competition I tried to have dinner with them and spend time with them. It was actually a lot of fun for me.
But do you know how tough it is to get a party of 18 or 20 seated at a restaurant for dinner? Do you know how much time that takes or how much time it takes away from tournament preparation … in the Bassmaster Classic?!
And that doesn’t even factor in the pressure I felt to do well and make a good showing in front of my family. I didn’t want to disappoint them. It’s not often they all gather to watch a tournament. The least I could do is win, right?
Well, this year I hope that everyone understands I won't be able to join them for dinner – at least not during competition. I’m thrilled that family is coming out for me and supporting me, but I’ll do them a lot prouder if I can treat the Classic like a regular tournament and save the family reunion for our regular summertime get together.