The MLF Difference: Edwin Evers

The MLF Difference: Edwin Evers
The MLF Difference: Edwin Evers

September 23, 2015

By: Ken Duke,

What if I told you we're going to take a bass fishing trip? You'd probably be excited and start thinking about the possibilities. Then you'd start asking questions.

Where are we going?

I'd give you the name of the town where we'd meet.

What are we going to fish for — largemouth, smallmouth, spots?

No answer.

Are we fishing a natural lake … an impoundment … a river?

More silence.

Is the water clear or dirty, shallow or deep? What's the predominant cover — vegetation, wood, rock?

No comment.

Frustrating isn't it? What would you pack? Do you need flippin' sticks or drop shot rods, swimbaits or jigs, light fluorocarbon or heavy braid?

If you're still not getting any clues, welcome to Major League Fishing, the ultimate "level playing field" in competitive bass angling, where the biggest names in the game come to see how quickly, how efficiently and how effectively they can break down waters most of them have never seen before.

It's a little like putting a jigsaw puzzle together while wearing a blindfold as a timer ticks away the seconds.

Of course, it's also the best way to determine the best angler on the water, and that's what Major League Fishing is all about.

This is not your grandpa's bass tournament.

The Evers Angle

One angler who has excelled under the MLF format, and also in the more traditional tournament arena, is Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla. Evers is one of a handful of pros who has won 10 or more B.A.S.S. events (including back-to-back Elite Series wins in 2015), and he claimed the 2013 Challenge Cup on Florida's Lake Istokpoga. The differences between conventional competitions and what goes on at an MLF event keep Evers' – and every other competitor's – head spinning as he changes gears from one to the other.

"It starts with the unknown," Evers says, describing the MLF format. "You don't know much about where you're going so you don't know how to pack, what you'll be fishing for or what conditions you'll find. I wind up carrying a lot more gear to a Major League Fishing event than to any of the other tournaments I fish. That means more stuff to go through, more stuff to keep organized and a lot more decisions to make on the fly."

Sifting his way through all the extra gear might seem like part of the fun — a "good problem" — to a casual angler, but for Evers the issue presents a serious challenge and potential pitfall.

"I'll carry 30 or 35 rigged rods and reels on the water with me at an MLF event," he explains. "Since we have so little time to break down the water and conditions, I know that if I don't have the right bait rigged on the right line with the right rod and reel, I'm not going to be able to stop in the middle of competition and re-rig everything to get it right. It would take too much time. So I do the best with what I brought and try to make that work."

Sometimes it works just fine, like at his Lake Istokpoga win. Other times, because he didn't have the right bait rigged on the right line and combo, he misses an opportunity —by just a little, by just enough — and he's done. Major League Fishing is fun and exciting, but it's equally unforgiving. With the clock running almost constantly and other competitors unlocking the door to key catches, the pace is relentless.

Now or Never

In a traditional bass tournament, you have about eight hours to prove yourself, to catch some fish, cull to your five best and get back to the scales. Though a competitor may feel pressure throughout the day, it's mostly self-inflicted. He's isolated and alone without any knowledge about what the rest of the field is doing. Maybe they're struggling, too. At least he can hope so.

"In other tournaments," Evers notes, "I may be behind, but I don’t know it. I don't feel that pressure. And because I had several days to practice, I may know that my bite starts in the afternoon. There's no reason to panic if I know I'll catch five good fish at one o'clock. I just have to wait for the conditions to get right.

"But in Major League Fishing, I'm getting regular updates all throughout the day. Kevin (VanDam) just caught a big one. Aaron (Martens) has three already. If things don't go well early, I could be 15 pounds behind in 15 minutes. It adds a lot of pressure … and excitement. I know I have to catch them right now because someone else is catching them. You can't wait for conditions to get right. It's now or never."

It's just part of the Major League Fishing difference.

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