The second annual Toyota Trucks All-Star Week is shaping up a lot like the first one ended, with Oklahoma’s Edwin Evers and Tennessee’s Ott DeFoe sitting atop the leaderboard. After finishing second and first, respectively, at the inaugural All-Star Week in 2011, the two are poised to advance yet again. With one day to go before the 12-angler field is cut to the Top 4, Evers’ limit of five Lake Shelbyville bass, weighing 13 pounds, 1 ounce, looks like it will propel him to the semifinals with ease. DeFoe, last year’s All-Star champion, is in second place with four bass weighing 11-3.
Evers was the only angler in the field to catch a limit in the first round. He caught a total of seven keepers, culling to the tournament limit of five. He’s working two patterns — one that’s “fairly shallow” and another offshore. Though he’s in great shape to finish in the Top 4 and advance, he wasn’t ready to talk about the details of his methods just yet.
“I’m doing something that I don’t think anyone else is doing,” Evers said. “If I can catch five more keepers tomorrow that weigh 7 or 8 pounds, I’ll feel really good about my chances.”
Although DeFoe managed the second-best total of the day, he fell one short of a limit. Like Evers, he was predictably reserved in his comments, but did offer a few details. “I caught my three biggest bass in about a 15-minute span — all on the same bait — and I lost another in the same area. I’m fishing shallow, less than 5 feet deep.”
DeFoe believes that if he can catch two keepers of any size — about 3 pounds — he’ll be in good shape to make the Top 4 and move on to the semifinals.
Aaron Martens, in third place with 7-7, had a five-bass limit in the boat for part of the day, but released his smallest fish because he was concerned it might not quite reach 14 inches. He’d like to finish the two days on Shelbyville with 14 pounds.
“I thought things were going to be a little easier today,” Martens said. “They turned out to be a lot tougher, but I’m looking forward to going after them again tomorrow.”
Fan favorite and 2007 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Skeet Reese rounds out the Top 4 with two bass weighing 5-11.
Seven-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and four-time Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin VanDam, boated just two keeper bass weighing 4-0. He’s in sixth place with one day left to fish and some ground to make up if he hopes to advance.
“I only had two keepers, but I had a handful of ‘shorts’ (fish measuring less than 14 inches), and I feel good about tomorrow,” KVD said. “My day was all about timing. If I got to my spot when things were right and the bait was there, I caught some fish. If my timing was off, I didn’t. I probably covered three quarters of the lake three separate times.”
Following Friday’s competition round, the Top 4 anglers will advance to the Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship and be seeded for the semifinals, Sept. 22, on Lake Decatur. The top-ranked angler will compete head-to-head against the pro in fourth place, and the second-seeded angler will compete against the third-ranked angler. The winners of these matchups will meet in the finals, Sept. 23, also on Lake Decatur. The winner will receive $60,000, and all competitors will earn prize money.
Image courtesy Bassmaster