Oklahomans in Bassmaster Classic like their chances
BY KELLY BOSTIAN World Outdoors Writer
Friday, February 24, 2012
5/17/12 at 8:19 AM
Related story: No easy way into Classic.
Oklahoma's elite series anglers
SHREVEPORT, La. - Forty-nine anglers hit the Red River outside Shreveport, La., at Friday's 7 a.m. launch of the 2012 Bassmaster Classic. Only three of them are Oklahomans, but the Sooner State has strong representation.
Edwin Evers of Talala, Jeff Kriet of Ardmore and Fred Roumbanis of Bixby all are veterans of the Classic and Evers is a name consistently mentioned in nationwide sports media as a guy who is due for a major title win.
The past two years he has placed second in the Bassmaster's Elite Series Angler of the Year race. He lost out to Kevin VanDam, of Kalamazoo, Mich., the man some are calling "the king of bass fishing."
This is Evers' 11th opportunity to fish the big show. Twice he's cracked the top 10. In 2005 he placed sixth and in 2009, at this same venue, he placed fifth with 51.5 pounds of fish, just three pounds shy of the haul by winner Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif.
Similar weighted bags of five fish each day are expected this year. Anglers are saying the guy who brings in five totaling an average of 17 or 18 pounds a day will win the big prize.
This year, however, the river is dirtier and conditions in general are tougher.
Thursday winds kicked up to 20 and 30 mph stirring up mud in the broad, tree-stump loaded flats that are a torturous 1 to 3 feet deep.
"You can't go (100 feet) without getting hung up on a stump," Kriet said.
Evers said he feels good about his chances. The water is muddy, but it is warming up and bass are moving up into shallows as the water has reached the temperature that urges bass to spawn - 55 to 65 degrees.
Evers is known for his versatility and he has plenty of experience on this stretch of water.
"I know I can win it," he said Wednesday on the last official practice day before the event. "A lot of it is going to depend on how much company I've got. If I get off someplace by myself, I'll have it. If not, I've still got a good chance, you know, but it's tougher."
Kriet is fishing his eighth Classic and also said he feels good about his chances. Evers also said Kriet is an angler to watch during this tournament. "He's very good at slowing down and figuring out how to pick something apart," Evers said.
So much of the river is muddy that anglers are being forced into backwaters that are relatively clear and shallow.
"It's tough to fish around these guys," Kriet said. "But there is always one guy who figures it out and catches them a little better."
Roumbanis, by comparison, is a newcomer in his third Bassmaster Classic appearance.
"The first couple of times I felt lucky to be there," he said.
"Now I've been in it and then out of it, not qualifying, and now it feels different, this time I'm competing to win and I feel like I know how to do that."
A Classic 101
The event: 2012 Bassmaster Classic tournament, Friday-Sunday, Red River at Shreveport-Bossier City, La.
What's the big deal? : The Bassmaster tournament series is the granddaddy of all tournament series and recognized as home to the best anglers in the world. The Bassmaster Classic comes to Tulsa in 2013.
What's the prize? : Top prize is $500,000, but the real big deal is the recognition and potential sponsorship dollars that come with it.
What is the weigh-in? : Anglers bring their NASCAR-style decorated trucks and boats to the CenturyLink Center, pull their fish out of the live wells on their boats and have them weighed on-stage in front of thousands in a stadium style crowd as they talk about their fishing strategy and techniques, trials and tribulations of the day. It's a lot more exciting than it sounds as the anglers show their fish, the crowd cheers and the results are tallied to see who is winning.
2012 Bassmaster Classic
Where: Shreveport-Bossier City, La.
When: Friday through Sunday
TV: 9:30-10:30 a.m., Outdoor-250
2013 Bassmaster Classic
Feb. 22-24, 2013
Original Print Headline: Chasing a dream
Kelly Bostian 918-581-8357
Fred Roumbanis stands on the bow of his boat before sunrise prior to fishing on the Red River during the practice round for the Bassmaster Classic in Shreveport, La. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World