Inside BASS: Evers coasts into AOY race

Evers says relaxing and trying new tactics has gained him much greater success in 2005. 

Who could have known that securing the earliest ticket to this summer's
coveted CITGO Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh would light a fire under
Edwin Evers?

With a Classic invitation already pocketed by virtue of his top-five
finish in the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship in December, it would
stand to reason that the 30-year-old rising star from Oklahoma would be
among the most relaxed performers on the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Tour. He
is...and that has been the key to a sizzling season in bass fishing's
big leagues.

The freedom from having to qualify for the world championship event has
enabled him to become Easy Eddie, an angler who is not hesitant to take
chances. The result has been nothing short of fantastic. If not for a
121st-place stumble in the season-opener at Lake Tohopekaliga, there
wouldn't be much of a race for the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year
award. Evers rebounded with performances of 15th, third, 34th and a
victory in the most recent Tour stop at Lake Norman.

"I'm fishing relaxed," Evers admitted. "What I've done with the third
day of practice in these tournaments is to fish off-the-wall stuff. I've
gone against the grain and fished stuff that was unusual. I've not tried
to continue developing what I may have established the first two days. I
went and tried to run 100 miles or do something goofy, and it's really
paid off.

"Normally, I split a lake up, and I go back to that area where I had the
best success the first two days and try to expand on it and make more
out of it. Now I'm doing something new and different.

"I've been fishing for Angler of the Year. Despite the bad finish I had
at Toho, I never thought I was out of it, but I can afford to expand and
try new things because I've got the Classic made."

With his win at Lake Norman, Evers finds himself in third place in the
Angler of the Year race entering this week's finale at Table Rock Lake
in Missouri.

"I like Table Rock. I struggled the first two times we went there, but
since then I've had two top-10s and a top-20 there, so I feel good about
it. But even if I don't win, this won't be my last opportunity to win
Angler of the Year."

For current CITGO Angler of the year standings, click here.

Swindle on QVC?

His 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year crown has
taken Gerald Swindle to some unique places this season. Recently, he was
part of an audition for a sponsor trying to get its products aired on
the QVC shopping channel.

"It was a pretty interesting experience," said Swindle, who was
representing Frondrutti hair care products. "I don't know if it will
make it (on QVC), but who would have thought that a fisherman would be
selling something on QVC, especially hair products?"

Skeet's vacation

What does a pro who is locked into a heated battle for
the Angler of the Year title do the week before the season finale? If
you're Skeet Reese, you head south of the border for a little R&R at
Cabo San Lucas.

The California pro, who enters the Table Rock event in fourth place in
the Angler of the Year race, joined his wife, daughter and other family
members for a week in sunny Mexico. He flew south from Tulsa after
shooting segments of the Greatest Angler Debate television series, which
debuts April 2nd on ESPN2.

Greatest Angler Debate

Two-time Classic winner George Cochran was one
of the 35 candidates for the ESPN Outdoors' Greatest Angler Debate
presented by John Deere. Inside BASS asked him whom he would vote for as
the best of the best.

"That's a hard question, but I'd have to say Kevin VanDam," the Arkansas
pro said. "In my book, he is the best of all time.

"I remember thinking when he started that he would become a well-known
fisherman because he was so consistent, and today, if you graded all of
the fishermen, he's still No. 1. From the time he started until today,
he's been probably the most versatile fishermen no matter where we go —
clear water, deep water, shallow water, mud holes, rivers. He's the most
consistent one. He's in the top 10 more than anyone I know of. In my
book, he's the best."

On April 2, Greatest Angler Debate programming will begin on ESPN2 as
part of BASS Saturday. The programming will feature biographical shows
on the top 10 anglers as well as debate programs featuring fans, the
media and professional anglers. Fans will find stats and stories in the
pages of Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times, Bassmaster.com and on the
weekly ESPN Outdoors radio show. On June 15, the debate will heat up
again as the fans choose between the top two anglers during a second
round of voting on Bassmaster.com.

The debate will conclude in Pittsburgh — at the 2005 Classic — when two
champions are crowned. One will be given the Classic trophy and the
other will be hailed as the greatest angler of all time.

Weirdest catch

Veteran Ohio pro Joe Thomas vividly remembers
accidentally hooking a blue heron.

"I was fishing boat docks in Old Hickory Lake with a jerkbait, and I
made a long cast," Thomas recalled. "Just as I made the cast, the heron
flew out from behind a boat that was lying on the dock and the line
looped around it. I hooked it, and it was a struggle because I had to
get it in and get it unhooked without getting killed, and those things
are pretty dangerous. Luckily, I was able to get it off without it or me
getting hurt."

Did you know?

The average margin of victory in the Classic is 4.71 pounds.

Pro birthdays

Curt Lytle of Virginia is 35 on March 28. Florida pro
Pete Thliveros turns 45 on April 7, while Bill Berry of Indiana
becomes 49 two days later. On April 11, Californian Warren Wyman
becomes 31. Georgia pro Danny Kirk will be 49 on April 23.

If I hadn't become a BASS pro...

Oregon pro Darryl Burkhardt would be
concentrating on his auto collision business in Gresham.

They said it

"Winning Angler of the Year back to back would have been a
phenomenal feat — almost like double hole-in-ones playing golf. To win
it one time in my career was a lifelong dream. You can't even fantasize
about winning it twice with so many great anglers out here."
— Reigning CITGO Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle.

Tim Tucker's Pro Angling Insider is a bi-monthly newsletter with an annual subscription rate of $39.95. It can be ordered by calling toll-free 800-252-FISH. A sample issue can by seen on his Bass Sessions web site, www.timtuckeroutdoors.com.