Preview: 2017 Challenge Cup Elimination Round 3
By Rob Newell
May 24, 2017
When it comes to mining the rich tournament bass fishing history hidden in legendary Lake Eufaula, Edwin Evers of Oklahoma has a life-changing memory rooted in its waters as well.
“I won my very first Bassmaster Tour event on this lake back in 2003,” Edwin recalled. “It helped get my fishing career started and I built a house with the winnings. I still have that house today. So this place holds a special place in my heart.”
Evers, however, is quick to point out that his tournament win came in February. Now it’s a warmer mid-October morning at the White Oak Creek boat ramp and Evers has a new challenge before him – literally – as day three of the MLF Challenge Cup begins.
“I love the big zone,” Evers said upon receiving his zone map, which includes 22 miles of Eufaula’s lower end. “This is great. I was worried we were all going to be piled in a small creek somewhere. This gives us room to really spread out and do our own thing.”
According to the anglers, being able to spread out is good because the common denominator at Eufaula this week has been how scattered the fish are in late summer on southeastern impoundments – something Evers agrees with 100 percent.
“This time of year, the fish start relating to bait more than they do cover,” Evers explained. “The thermocline gets all busted up, the bait spreads out through the water column and the fish suspend out there in middle of nowhere just following bait.”
So what’s Evers’ plan of how to deal with bass-roaming-with-bait syndrome?
“Well, I’ve got an Alabama rig tied on right there,” Evers laughed. “Hey, this is the right state for it – Alabama, right? This was time of year when Paul Elias scalded everyone on that thing on the bridges at Lake Guntersville and this lake has a lot of bridges. And MLF still lets us throw it, so why not, right?”
Fellow Oklahoman Jason Christie fished Eufaula a few times during his tenure on the FLW Tour. He, too, says bass become more pelagic this time of year in the south.
“It’s still summer to me, here,” Christie said. “The water is still real warm so I’m guessing you better get on them quick because after the first morning feed is over, I bet this place can get stingy.”
Christie put the fall fishing dilemma best: “In the spring and early summer, most of the bass are all trying to use the same 10 percent of the water, but now they can use any of the other 90 percent that they want to.
“They just roam with the bait,” he continued. “I think they even use big shad schools for shade, just hanging out under the shadows of bait instead of using docks or laydowns. They just don’t relate to structure near as much this time of year and that makes them a little harder to pinpoint.”
Timmy Horton from Alabama has a pretty good idea of just how hard Eufaula bass are to pinpoint in the fall months.
“I finished second in a BASS Open here in November years ago,” Horton recalled. “I committed three long days of practice to looking offshore and I only found three schools in that time. So what are the chances of doing it in a 7-hour period? Not very good. For that reason, I’m starting shallow this morning. If nothing happens and the Scoretracker gets slow, I might go out and look a little bit. But I’ll be on the bank to begin with.”
A pro to watch out for on day three will be hydrilla hound Todd Faircloth of Texas. Unbeknownst to Faircloth, the lower end of the lake has deep, matted hydrilla. If and when Faircloth discovers the deep grass, it will be interesting to see how long it takes him to dial it in.
Also, Alabama resident Aaron Martens has a bit of fall experience on Eufaula, which could prove valuable on day three.
“I’ve fished here in the fall the last couple of years,” Martens said. “I have friends down here that I like to come fish with this time of year; I have also been to a couple of writers conferences here in the fall. It can be a tough place this time of year. I really like it in January – that’s when the big ones start moving up. But it’s still too warm for any of that. It’s going to be a scattered bite for sure.”