The unsung Edwin Evers
Ask Edwin Evers if coming in second in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race isn't a lot like being stung over and over again by the same bee.
Or don't ask. Perhaps it's best to leave the man alone right now. Who would not need some space to recover from the sting of missing the prestigious title by 10 points, close enough to smell the green of the $200,000 winner's take?
Still, second place in the sport's most prestigious competition is an accomplishment he can hold up to the light and admire.
Unfortunately, the runner-up's recognition got lost somewhere between the cheers for winner Kevin VanDam and the tears for Skeet Reese. All eyes were on the California pro as his longtime points lead crumbled July 31 in the Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason. Then the spotlight shifted from Reese onto Michigan's VanDam as he sewed up his sixth AOY title, 19th win, and the sport's single-season top earner status (see below).
Apparently, Evers is almost almost used to being overshadowed by Reese and VanDam. He laughed when asked if he felt ignored.
"Naw, it is what it is," said Evers, who gracefully did not complain about the dearth of attention. "They have been battling it out for a long time."
There are many things about the Postseason Evers thinks of positively. He likes his $75,000 check. He's glad he shared his first bass-fishing playoffs experience with Terry Butcher, his brother-in-law and closest neighbor in Talala, Okla., who finished 4th, a Butcher-career high.
But Evers has a "but."
"It sure didn't end like I wanted it to," said Evers, who was trying for his first title. "I had a good chance to win that thing and I let it slip through my fingers."
He said his downfall was Lake Jordan, the fishery for the first event of the two-leg Postseason competition.
"I lost it on Jordan," he said. "All I needed there was to finish in 5th place. I needed just a pound and a few ounces more and I would have been there, the weights were that tight."
For the record, at Jordan he ended in 9th place with a weight of 21 pounds, 6 ounces. His total was 1 pound and 10 ounces short of 5th place, which was taken by Gary Klein with 23-0.
In the final leg on the Alabama River out of Montgomery, Evers pulled back into AOY trophy contention. It looked like he could beat Reese.
But there was VanDam, building momentum. In the end, he earned enough points to bypass Evers as well as Reese and nine other pros, and win his third consecutive and sixth title.
It was a competition for the record books, and in no small part driven by Evers' consistency. He breathed fire down Reese's neck for half the regular season, sticking through four tournaments in 2nd in the points rankings.
Just days after the Angler of the Year competition, his head is still where the many pluses don't balance out the one minus.
"I'll be happy enough later. Just give me a little bit of time to get over it," he said.
When to catch the Postseason on TV
Coverage of the second and final half of the Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason will air on ESPN2 at 10 a.m. ET, Sunday, Aug. 8, on "The Bassmasters." It will repeat the same day at 2 p.m. ET.
Fans can see how Kevin VanDam won the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph on the Alabama River and captured his third consecutive Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, the sixth of his career.
Coverage of the first half of the postseason will repeat Sunday, Aug. 22, at 10 a.m. ET. The show will detail how local favorite Russ Lane of Prattville, Ala., triumphed in the Ramada Trophy Chase on Alabama's Lake Jordan.
VanDam sets the bar higher
Kevin VanDam not only won his third consecutive Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title last week, he shattered a three-year-old BASS earnings record.
VanDam, 42, reset the earnings bar by winning $915,500 this season, busting Boyd Duckett's 1997 single-season record of $852,750.
VanDam was already the top all-time money-winner at the start of the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series season with more than $3.6 million. Last week he added $260,000 in postseason winnings alone. That was on top of the $500,000 for his February 2010 Bassmaster Classic win, $100,000 for a regular-season win in June, and in-the-money finishes in five other events this season.
His $915,500 season high pushed his career gross to $4,578,976.50. That's a new Bassmaster tournament career record.
Young, aspiring anglers who might feel cowed by VanDam's record can note that the superstar's first Bassmaster event netted him nothing. That was in 1987 at the age of 19, when he finished 110th in a field of 302.
As the fishing world knows, the young angler from Kalamazoo, Mich., stuck with it. Since that first attempt, VanDam has entered a total of 232 Bassmaster tournaments. His average winnings per tournament is $19,737.
The 2010 Elite season ended with VanDam matching other records and sneaking up on still others. His accomplishments include:
Winning Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year in the same year he won a Bassmaster Classic. Only one other Classic champ, 1995 winner Mark Davis of Arkansas, won Angler of the Year in the same season.
A sixth Angler of the Year title. VanDam now is closer to Roland Martin's nine-title record; the ninth was in 1985. (Note that the criteria to win is different than in Martin's heyday.)
A third consecutive AOY title. Martin stacked three in 1971-1973. Four in a row is a possibility in 2011 for VanDam.
19 Bassmaster wins. With last week's event win in the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph, VanDam tied up with Martin at 19 for the most Bassmaster tournament wins. Interestingly, VanDam competed in the event Martin took as his 19th win. (VanDam finished 28th.)
Life is sweet and wondrous
"To win a sixth Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title in the same year I won a Bassmaster Classic is unbelievable. I really can't say much more than that about it. To be honest, I'm not sure it's all sunk in yet." Kevin VanDam in his Aug. 2 blog at BASS Insider, the premium pages of www.Bassmaster.com