BASS Alabama River Baits, Gear & Patterns

Edwin Evers' Winning Pattern Baits & Gear

Edwin Evers' ultimate goal this year - as it is every year - is to win the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year award. There's no better way to progress toward that objective than by winning tournaments. He collected his fifth career tour-level victory and extended his edge in the points race Sunday when he outlasted the field at the Alabama River Bassmaster Elite Series. The derby, which was the fifth on the eight-event schedule, was an especially challenging one as extremely high water that receded over the course of the event continually opened up new options while closing down others. Evers was in a tie for 4th place with Bobby Lane after day 1, then moved up one spot each day until he finally reached the top with a 17-12 stringer on day 4. He edged runner-up Brent Chapman, the reigning AOY who'd led the middle 2 days, by 1-12. Evers, who'd come close to winning at the Alabama on several occasions in the past but had been unable to close the deal, began the 3-day practice period by traveling up the Coosa River to the Bouldin Dam Canal. He'd never turned a prop in that ditch previously, but knew it had been extremely productive in a 2003 Bassmaster Tour event won by Kenyon Hill (Chapman was 2nd and Evers 3rd). The canal runs for 3 miles or more, never getting more than about 50 yards wide. He found the portion closest to the river to be the most productive. "The fish were on clean banks, with smooth clay or rock, in about 6 to 8 feet of water," he said. "My electronics were big - I was able to find some isolated rocks and some little shelves that stuck out." He went in the opposite direction (south of the launch site in Montgomery, Ala.) on the second practice day, and then back up north on the final day. "I was able to find a few other things. Overall, my practice was decent, but not great."

Competition:

Evers came within ounces of the 18-pound mark on each of the first 2 days to put himself in the thick of things at the midway point. There was a critical juncture on day 1, however, when he nearly abandoned the canal. "When I was running to where I was going to start, I noticed how much faster my boat was going, which meant there was a lot less current coming the other way," he said. "I fished one little stretch and didn't get a bite, and I told my marshal to get ready to move to another place. "Coming back out of the canal, I decided to make one more stop. I caught 18 pounds on six flips." Day 2 was considerably slower, but his bag ended up being just 3 ounces lighter. "I caught some real nice ones, but it just took a little longer," he said. "I caught some fish that afternoon that really helped." The current (and thus the water level) had dropped considerably by the time day 3 got under way, but it was another day on which he loaded up in a hurry. The sack he weighed that day was third-best of the tournament behind Chapman's 23-05 on day 1 and Steve Kennedy's 23-03 on day 3. "I had 22 pounds in 30 minutes. I started catching them on a crankbait that day - they'd moved a little deeper than they were when I was flipping. "I pulled out by 9:30 or 10 o'clock and I went and found another group of fish that helped me on the last day." He caught one quality fish on the crankbait and flipped up a couple more early on the final day, and then pulled out and fished several locales in the time that remained. He got one weigh-in fish from the river on a spinnerbait, then had a late-day flurry from a place he'd been saving in Cooter's Pond that produced his final two.

Winning Gear:

Flipping gear: 7' heavy action CarbonLite rod, Johnny Morris Signature Series casting reel (7:1 ratio), 50-pound Magibraid braided line, 2 1/2' XPS fluorocarbon leader, unnamed 1/2-ounce tungsten weight, unnamed 4/0 straight-shank hook, Zoom Z-Hog Jr. (California 420).

Cranking gear: 7 1/2' medium-action cranking rod, Pro Qualifier casting reel (6.4:1 ratio), 12-pound XPS fluorocarbon line, unnamed medium-diving crankbait (shad).

Spinnerbait gear: 7' heavy-action CarbonLite rod, Pro Qualifier casting reel (6.4:1 ratio), 20-pound XPS fluorocarbon line, 3/4-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait (spot remover).

Main factor: "Saving those fish in Cooter's Pond."

Performance edge: "The Optima batteries were huge in current that strong and my Nitro boat holds 66 gallons of gas so I could run anywhere I wanted to. I could go all the way up the river, then all the way down, then up and down again."

Alabama River Elite Series Winning Pattern Bassfan 5/14/13 (John Johnson)

Brent Chapman's Pattern, Baits & Gear

Brent Chapman went south of the launch in Montgomery, Ala. on the first 2 practice days and fared okay, but he wasn't approaching the 20 pounds per day that running mate (and eventual 11th-place finisher) Randy Howell was reporting from up north. Howell had already determined that he was going to focus on the Bouldin Dam Canal, so he spent day 3 helping Chapman in the area below the Jordan Dam. "We went up there together and he was the one who figured out the spinnerbait deal," Chapman said. "He told me to make sure I hit this one little eddy, but at the time he didn't realize just how good it was. I found that out on the first day of the tournament." He averaged nearly 20 pounds a day over the first 3 days while doing most of his damage from that one small break in the rampaging current. Most of the fish took the blade, while some were enticed by a wobble-head jig or a hollow-belly swimbait. He opted not to make the treacherous trip up there on day 4, after the flow had receded dramatically, and regretted that decision when Evers ended up surpassing him.

Spinnerbait gear: 7' medium-heavy Wright & McGill Rick Clunn Signature Series rod, Wright & McGill Skeet Reese Victory 621 casting reel (6.2:1 ratio), 40-pound Gamma Torque braided line, 3/4-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait (spot remover). He used a variety of other spinnerbaits as well, some as heavy as 1 ounce.

Swimbait gear: 7'6" heavy-action Wright & McGill Skeet Reese Signature Series swimbait rod, same reel, 20-pound Gamma fluorocarbon line, generic 1/2-ounce jighead, generic hollow-belly swimbait (threadfin shad).

Jig gear: Same rod, reel and line as swimbait, 3/4-ounce Mesu Baits Wobble Head, TightLines UV Beaver (black/blue).

Main factor: "Committing to that area and making those runs."

Performance edge: "By far the most important thing was my Odyssey batteries for allowing me to hold in that current and withstand it all day long."

Alabama River 2-5 Patterns Bassfan 5/15/13 (John Johnson)

Steve Kennedy's Pattern, Baits & Gear

Like Chapman, Steve Kennedy did most of his damage in the rapids below the Jordan Dam. Unlike Chapman, he made the journey on day 4, but the area surrendered only one good fish that day in the greatly reduced current. "Regardless of the conditions, I was going to do what I had to do to get up there," he said. "I'd only fished two or three tournaments on the river and I'd never been able to get above the bridge at Wetumpka. "I went on day 2 of practice, and then I didn't even go out on the third day. I knew I was going to go up there and have some fun." His methods were very similar to Chapman's. "The main deal was a 1-ounce spinnerbait. When the river was ripping, you could get in any current break or eddy and flutter it in those little gaps. When you caught one, there were usually five more sitting there." The swimbait was a pattern than Ott DeFoe put him on and it carried him on the final day. "I downsized the bait and the line and put a hurting on them. That was a lot of fun."

Spinnerbait gear: 7'6" heavy-action Kistler LTA rod, older model Shimano Curado casting reel (6.2:1 ratio), unnamed 20-pound fluorocarbon line, unnamed 1-ounce spinnerbait (white or chartreuse/white).

Swimbait gear: 7' medium-heavy Kistler LTA rod, older model Shimano Chronarch 50 MG casting reel (6.2:1 ratio), 15-pound unnamed fluorocarbon line, 1/4-ounce unnamed jighead, 5" unnamed swimbait (shad).

Main factor: "Just committing to fishing up behind that dam."

Performance edge: "The heavy spinnerbait was a big key. A lot of guys weren't getting their stuff down fast enough, and that's what you had to do to get the better fish."

Alabama River 2-5 Patterns Bassfan 5/15/13 (John Johnson)

Alton Jones' Pattern, Baits & Gear

Alton Jones was the only Top-5 finisher who fished south of Montgomery. He locked through to Jones Bluff Reservoir each day. "I was just fishing the banks down there where the water had flooded into the bushes and trees," he said. "I had a great practice and I found those fish on the first day, but the real key was the scouting trip I made before the cutoff. "I was so dialed in by the final day of practice that I didn't even go out. I worked on my tackle and spent some time with my wife and rested up for the event. There haven't been too many times in my career when I've skipped a practice day, but I just felt like anything else I might find would just be a distraction." He flipped vegetation for the first 3 days and threw a jig along bluff walls when the water receded on day 4.

Flipping gear: 6'9" medium-heavy Kistler Z-Bone rod, unnamed casting reel (6.5:1 ratio), 50-pound PowerPro braided line with 25-pound unnamed fluorocarbon leader (4'), 1/2-ounce unnamed tungsten weight, 3/0 Reaction Innovations BMF flipping hook, YUM MightEE Craw with added black/blue or green-pumpkin punch skirt.

Jig gear: Same rod, reel and line, 1/2-ounce Booyah jig (black/blue), YUM Chunk trailer (blue).

Main factor: "For the first 3 days it was realizing how shallow those fish were - they were in a foot of water or less - and the last day they were in 8 to 10 feet. It was a matter of adjusting with the changing water conditions."

Performance edge: "My Yamaha SHO. I was making extremely long runs - 60 miles each way. When you're doing that, you've got to have a motor that's really reliable."

Alabama River 2-5 Patterns Bassfan 5/15/13 (John Johnson)

John Murray's Pattern, Baits & Gear

John Murray flipped up the top bag on day 1, then caught twin 14-pound sacks the next 2 days to stay within shouting distance of the top slot. He followed that up with the heaviest stringer of the final day to equal his best finish since 2008. "I had an okay practice and I caught them the way I like to up in the river," he said. "I know they live there. I was confident I could catch some, but I wasn't really confident with the flood conditions. Almost every day was totally different." He spent most of his time near the Bouldin Dam Canal and occasionally ventured into that ditch. He had a half-dozen key spots spread along a 5-mile stretch of the Coosa. He did most of his final-day work with a crankbait after the water had thinned out. "Those fish were in 5 to 12 feet on the sandbars and you had to crank the bait very fast."

Flipping gear: 7'6" medium-action Team Lew's rod, Team Lew's Pro casting reel (6.4:1 ratio), 15-pound unnamed fluorocarbon line, 1/2- or 3/4-ounce River2Sea Touch Down jig, Gene Larew Double-Tail trailer (brown/purple).

Cranking gear: 7'10" medium-action Team Lew's cranking rod, Lew's BB1 casting reel (6.4:1 ratio), 12-pound unnamed fluorocarbon line, unnamed medium-diving crankbait (chartreuse/blue).

Main factor: "Concentrating on that area. I'd caught big stringers there three times in the past and I knew they lived there."

Performance edge: "I'd say the Lew's reels. The casted farther than I needed them to and I could get a really good angle on those sandbars."

Alabama River 2-5 Patterns Bassfan 5/15/13 (John Johnson)