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Published: May 19, 2013
Late Evers Charge Yields
2013 Challenge Cup Win
2013 GEICO Challenge Cup, Lake Istokpoga, Oct. 22 - 27, 2012
by Dan O’Sullivan
|CHAMPIONSHIP Competitors |
The Championship Round of the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2013 GEICO Challenge Cup proved to be one of the more memorable days in Major League Fishing history. While the day started out looking like it would be another runaway for one of the competitors, a wrinkle would change the day and the eventual outcome.
The six anglers who had battled their way through five days of tough competition and brutal conditions found themselves fishing the least productive hole of the competition. It was not supposed to be that way, Zone 5 was supposed to be the best hole on the lake, with reeds, islands and plentiful grass to give anglers plenty to target.
However, with Hurricane Sandy pummeling her way out of the east for three days, Zone 5 on the western shore of Lake Istokpoga took the brunt of her wrath, and the bulk of the water became dirty.
As anyone with any knowledge and perspective of tournament angling knows, Florida bass do not respond well to water that suddenly becomes dirty. The normally relatively clear water of Lake Istokpoga had been stirred up to the point of turbidity, and outside of small pockets of clear water in the reeds or deep in the grass, and the lone canal in the zone, clear water was hard to find.
However, with six of the best bass anglers in the world, someone was bound to figure them out.
Championship Anglers: Brent Ehrler, Edwin Evers, Alton Jones, Ish Monroe, Takahiro Omori and Kevin VanDam.
The first angler to look like he might have a firm grasp on the day was Jones, who put consecutive keepers on the board at 7:54 and 8:01 a.m. local time. He held onto the lead for seven minutes before Monroe announced his presence at 8:08 with a 3-pound, 1-ounce chuck, then followed with another solid keeper 12 minutes later.
Omori became the third angler to make an appearance on the leader board with a 2-pound, 11-ounce keeper, then Monroe scored again. Evers, who had struggled early with landing fish, finally connected at 8:43 with a 2-pound, 15-ounce bass. Then VanDam finally made his first score with a small keeper.
Monroe was the pacesetter, as he produced the one keeper three-plus pounds, and a 5-pound, 11-ounce kicker at 9:34, along with two other keepers to lead at the end of the first period with a total of 11 pounds, 5 ounces. Following him was Evers with 4 pounds, 14 ounces, Jones with 4 pounds, 4 ounces, Omori with 2 pounds, 11 ounces, VanDam with 2 pounds, 9 ounces, and in last was Ehrler with no score.
The second period proved to be non-eventful as a whole. The dirty water, along with the fact that the winds had increased with the rising air temperatures, made this the least productive period in Major League Fishing competition history with a total of five keepers recorded.
Ehrler finally registered a keeper, and Jones and Omori both scored once as well, but Monroe managed to lengthen his lead by adding two more small keepers. He headed into the second break with a total of 13 pounds, 6 ounces. Jones followed in second place with 5 pounds, 8 ounces, Omori third with 4 pounds, 15 ounces, Evers fell to fourth with 4 pounds, 14 ounces, VanDam fifth with 2 pounds, 9 ounces, and Ehrler remained in last with 1 pound, 9 ounces.
While it appeared that Monroe was running away with the day, the wrinkle was about to unfold.
Moments after the anglers began fishing the third period, a message from Major League Fishing Commissioner Don Rucks came across to the boat officials that the entire lake had been opened; the competitors could fish wherever they desired.
A mad dash began as anglers secured their rods and stowed trolling motors for runs out of Zone 5 and across the lake. Anglers began returning to zones that had produced for them in earlier rounds. That was with one exception; Evers decided to make a run up into Arbuckle Creek, which was in Zone 2.
Even with the lake open, Monroe became the first angler to score in the third period. He posted a 2-pound, 10-ounce largemouth from the canals he fished in the Sudden Death Semifinal round. While he was first score in the last period, he began to struggle with lost fish and missed opportunities. Fish began to short-strike his signature Phat Frog and his trademarked Droppin' Bombs punching rig. A sliver of daylight began to appear around the iron door he had appeared to close earlier.
Anglers began to sniff opportunity in the air, and the one who seemed poised to capitalize the quickest was Evers. After making the long run and idle into Arbuckle Creek, he posted his first fish at 2:34 p.m., VanDam followed a minute later, then Monroe answered at 2:51 as if to let the group know he was still in control.
Immediately after that fish, Monroe held a sizeable lead that pushed seven pounds, but at 3:07, Evers came across a group of schooling fish halfway up the creek that allowed him to add 11 more keepers to his total. Over the next 54 minutes, Evers put on a clinic that left the rest of the field scratching their heads.
At 3:35, Evers closed to within one keeper of Monroe, and at 3:39, he swung a 4-pound, 1-ounce bruiser on a soft jerkbait. He produced six more keepers, only being interrupted by VanDam and Jones periodically, to push his total weight to 27 pounds, 10 ounces, and eclipse Monroe by more than 10 pounds. Monroe finished second with 17 pounds, 3 ounces, VanDam third with 9 pounds, 11 ounces, Jones fourth with 8 pounds, 14 ounces, Omori fifth with 6 pounds, 1 ounce, and Ehrler sixth with 1 pound, 9 ounces.
After a late third-period announcement to open the lake, a gutsy decision to go somewhere he had not been before on the lake, Edwin Evers is now the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2013 GEICO Challenge Cup Champion.