Outdoors: Going pro turned out all right for Edwin Evers
Chasing the dream of catching bass for a living can be a risk, but Edwin Evers had nothing to lose when he started down that path during his college days at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
"'I didn’t have anything,' said Evers, who played two years of college football at the school in Durant.
"I didn’t have a house. I had a truck payment. I had a boat payment. I guess why I made it was I didn’t get married until I was 31. There is no woman in their right mind that would have lived with me for those first five, six, seven years as lean as I was living.”
Evers, 45, is no longer living lean. He has become one of the most successful pro bass anglers Oklahoma has ever produced, arguably belonging on the state's Mount Rushmore of fishing.
The Talala resident won the 2016 Bassmaster Classic and last year was the season-points champion on the new Bass Pro Tour. He then captured its inaugural championship tournament, the Redcrest.
Evers took home $300,000 for winning Redcrest, adding to the $193,600 he won during the Bass Pro Tour's first season. His career earnings surpass $3 million.
He made a good decision to stop playing football and start fishing for a living.
Evers will be kicking off Rose State College's Bass Fishing Techniques classes on Jan. 28, hoping to help other aspiring pro anglers catch the same dream, or at least catch more bass.
Evers will be teaching the first session of the three-night curriculum (other sessions are scheduled Feb. 4 and 11) and concentrating on how to locate bass under different conditions (high or low water, muddy or clear water and windy or calm).
"Each has a certain lure or technique that will work better than others," he said.
Before joining the Tulsa-based Major League Fishing and its new Bass Pro Tour, Evers was ready to quit professional fishing and stick to growing and selling pecans. He owns a pecan orchard on the Caney River just nine miles from his home in Talala. It's his "getaway" place and he was ready to getaway from professional bass fishing for good at one point.
“I was done. I was burned out," he said. "I was on my exit strategy."
Then the new Bass Pro Tour formed with its increased television exposure, unique and exciting tournament format, no entry fees and larger payouts. He changed his mind.
"The trail I used to fish, they would put two tournaments in a one-hour show and now each tournament has its own two-hour show on the Discovery Channel and the championship being on CBS," Evers said.
"It’s something like 850 hours of television coverage between the Cups, the Bass Pro Tour and the Redcrest from one year of fishing, where before we had like 40 hours of television coverage. The amount of exposure for an angler is tremendous."
Evers said the sport of pro bass fishing now has an opportunity to grow its fan base with more television coverage exposure over networks such as CBS, the CBS Sports Network, the Outdoor Channel and the Discovery Channel.
And the first season of the new trail proved to be a magical one for Evers.
"As fate would have it I just really had a great year. It was year I will never forget," he said. "I have never been happier. It was the most fun I have had in the last 10 or 15 years."
Now, he doesn't seem himself hanging up the rod and reel anytime soon.
"I am good to go to Tommy Martin’s age," Evers said of his colleague who won the 1974 Bassmaster Classic and is still fishing professionally today at age 78.
Bass fishing techniques
What: A three-night session on different techniques to catch bass
Where: Rose State College, Midwest City
When: Jan. 28, Feb. 4 and 11 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Instructors: Edwin Evers, pro bass angler; Ned Kehde, creator of the successful bass fishing finesse tactic known as The Ned Rig; Bill Wright, creator of the Okie Rig; and Gene Gilliland, former fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and current B.A.S.S. Conservation Director.
For more information: Call 405-733-7392 or email rose.edu/fish