CONCORD, N.C. – Nitro Boats pro Edwin Evers caught five bass weighing 15.70 pounds Saturday on Lake Norman for a three-day total of 40.71 to win the second event of the PAA Bass Pro Shops Tournament Series presented by Carrot Stix.
The veteran Oklahoma pro had a 5.19-pound largemouth, one more than four pounds and another more than three in his final-day catch. It was the largest limit of the week and came after Evers dissected his “docks with brush” pattern more thoroughly on the second day.
That resulted in him staying on the deeper brush a bit more Saturday, working 3/8ths-ounce Booyah Jig and a Texas-rigged Yum! Dinger with a 1/4-ounce tungsten weight. Evers made short pitches toward the dock and worked the baits to the brush. He also threw a 3/8ths-ounce Booyah Buzzbait around specific shallow, shady areas containing cover, riprap or sandy bottoms with spawning bluegills.
“I just spent more time on the brush,” he said. “I didn’t catch a lot in practice but I saw a lot of good fish up shallow. I found about 60 or 70 brushpiles in front of docks that had some depth in front of them.”
When things are going right, they’re going right. Evers flipped the 4-pounder – his second keeper – and hit the driver’s console of his Nitro, but got the fish into the boat. On his 3-pounder, he had to hand-line the fish to the boat. He also stealthily chased a third keeper about 100 yards down a bank, making two casts with the worm and jig before getting it to slurp the buzzbait.
“I’m really pleased with this week,” he said. “It’s been a while since I won and this is pretty gratifying.”
Evers won a $45,000 package that includes a Nitro Z-8 boat rigged with a Mercury 250 and T-H Marine Atlas Jackplate. Evers already is qualified for the Toyota Texas Bass Classic in October on Lake Conroe, to which the PAA will send its top 15 points leaders following the season’s third tournament next month on Lake Tawakoni in Texas.
Bass Pro Shops pro Ott DeFoe of Tennessee made the strongest move of the tournament, jumping 32 places the final two days to finish second. DeFoe finished with 34.80 pounds after going up the lake below the dam to work key shoreline cover with eddy pockets the final two days.
DeFoe caught one keeper on the lower end Saturday before going up toward the dam, where water was being generated. Bass were on the banks in 2-4 feet around shady wood cover, he said. He cast a quarter-ounce Texas-rigged Berkley Power Worm in pumpkinseed around the cover, getting a little drift from the current into the eddy pockets.
“When I got there the water was running and it was game-on,” DeFoe said. “The first one I caught was a 3-pounder and I finished my limit pretty quickly. I was able to cull the limit and even caught one about 15 minutes before I left to check in, and that probably was the difference between second and third place, and possibly fourth place. It wasn’t much, but every ounce counted.”
The current along the shore wasn’t too strong, he said, but was enough to nudge the lightly-weighted worm into the eddies.
“It drifted a little, and the key was getting a good cast close to the bank around those eddies,” he said. “I normally use a bigger weight, but with the slim profile of the Power Worm you want to use as light of a weight as you can get away with.”
Ranger Boats pro Chris Baumgardner of North Carolina finished third with 34.63 pounds. Megabass pro Shinichi Fukae of Texas led going into the final day, but fell to fourth after catching just four bass for 7.99 pounds and a total of 34.42.
Fukae was fishing a Yamamoto Baits Pro Senko on a shaky head in three lightweight sizes over brush 20-30 feet deep. Instead of vertical drops, he targeted spotted bass suspended over the brush with a pendulum presentation of his bait. Casting past the brush, he let the bait fall to the bottom, then made quick turns of his reel to imitate a darting minnow before killing the action.
“They follow it and turn on when it’s going fast,” Fukae said. “Then I kill it, and it’s right there in front of them. But they didn’t bite as well today and my best area … nothing. I went there four times and didn’t catch anything.”
The PAA Tournament series will visit Lake Tawakoni in Garland, Texas, for the third event of the season. The tournament will be Sept. 9-11.