Maybe it was because he was driving to southwest Missouri with his son, Kade, 10, and one of his young buddies to enjoy an annual float trip, but it seemed Edwin Evers’ tone of voice was even brighter than usual as he offered an update on his experience in the inaugural Major League Fishing season this week.
“I was nervous about this year going in because, you know, 80 guys assembled that are all that good. It’s just crazy, that field of anglers. But I have been so excited to go fishing and so excited to be out there,” he said. “It’s the most fun I’ve had fishing in probably 15 years. It rejuvenated me. I’m just happy to be fishing again and just super, super excited about it.”
A new start, a new champion title, a new house and a new family member; the inaugural season of the Tulsa-based MLF Bass Pro Tour for the 44-year-old Talala pro and 2016 Bassmaster Classic champion has been marked by big events — and one of the biggest is yet to come.
LaCrosse, Wisconsin, hosts the inaugural REDCREST on the Upper Mississippi River on Aug. 19-25, and Evers is the top angler of the Top 30 who earned a slot in the tour’s inaugural ultimate championship.
Fans who watched Evers come within a hair’s breadth of Angler of the Year honors several times over his 22-year career rejoiced in his MLF Points Champion title this season. Even though it didn’t come with an added cash prize or trophy, the notch in the history books and bragging rights on this one are priceless.
“I came so close to it so many times. I’d always have one bad event and it would just kill your season. That didn’t happen this year,” he said. “Finally to win one, that fulfilled one of my childhood dreams, and to do it with these top anglers is really, really special.”
Evers is one of only five anglers nationwide to pass the $3 million mark in career earnings, and in 13 Bassmaster Elite Series seasons, he wrapped up eight in the top 10 for Angler of the Year points. Three times he took second place, a couple more he was Top 5.
The resume goes to his reputation as a consistent top angler, but he admitted in the past sometimes he let himself get overwhelmed by the push to compete and win.
“I would struggle with putting too much importance on fishing at times,” he said. “It’s not life and death. I mean, it’s how I make my living, but it’s not as important at times as I would make it out to be.”
Career experience, as well as experience with the new MLF format, his faith, and keeping that positive mentality through the season helped carry him this year, he said.
“Experience counts, I am getting older,” he said. “I remember when I started, I looked up to guys like Tommy Martin, Dave Wharton, guys like Stacey King, they were probably my age back then,” he added with a chuckle.
Family is the other factor that pulls Evers through, he said.
I first wrote about Evers, his wife, Tuesday, and brother-in-law Terry Butcher and the Butcher family in June 2010. That’s when Kade was just 16 months old and daughter Kylee was 11.
Of Terry Butcher and his in-laws, he said at the time, “We’re a close-knit family. We’ve been friends a long time; he’s really a brother to me.”
Never has the bond been so apparent as this season when a tornado ripped part of the roof off the Evers home on May 1.
No one was home or got hurt, but Evers was in the middle of the MLF tourney on Smith Lake at Cullman, Alabama, at the time and he did what any father would do. He packed up the boat and headed toward home.
“I was an hour into the drive and my wife threw a fit. Her and my mother-in-law talked me out of it,” he said. “Her family took care of everything. People helped and they put tarps over the roof. The outpouring of help through all of that was really humbling,” he said.
“They take care of a lot of things for me and are a huge part of everything I do,” he said of his family. “I lean on them for a lot. I could not have had any success without that group of people.”
Mother Nature wasn’t done with the Evers’ home after that first storm, however. Heavy rains hit again and again. The tarps were replaced several times, but the rains just wouldn’t stop long enough for roofers to come in. Water damage made the home a total loss.
This week, the pad for the new home was completed. Concrete work will begin soon, he said.
“I bought a fifth-wheel (camper) and the four of us are in that for now,” he said. Friends nearby opened their home to them as well. It’s a place to go when the weather turns or just “to stretch out a little once in a while,” he said.
One more big event comes between now and the REDCREST. The fifth-wheel occupancy will drop from four to three, but the family team roster will grow by one, as Kylee is to be married on Aug. 11 to Logan Armstrong.
Another new start, another big event, with more to come.