Oklahoma angler leads Redcrest championship

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., moved from third place to first Thursday in the second qualifying round of the Redcrest Bass Fishing Championship on Lake Norman.

The 20 anglers with the heaviest combined two-day weight totals will fish the first knockout round today. They will start with zero weight and essentially fish a new tournament. The championship round will be Sunday.

Evers, who won the 2019 Redcrest Championship and the 2016 Bassmaster Classic, registered five bass Thursday that weighed 14 pounds, 9 ounces to boost his two-day weight to 29-15. His heaviest bass weighed 3-8.

Finishing second was Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., winner of the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. He registered five bass weighing 14-13 for a two-day total of 28-8, followed by Brent Ehrler (5/11-8; 27-3), winner of the 2006 Forrest Wood Cup and the 2010 FLW Tour event on Lake Ouachita .

Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala., 5/10-12; 27-3) fell from first place to fourth, followed by Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, Texas (5/16-12; 26-12).

Spotted bass dominate Lake Norman, but Evers said that winning the tournament will probably require catching a few largemouth bass, which are bigger than spotted bass. He found a school of largemouths early and caught one that weighed 3-8 at 9:27 a.m. Wednesday, with a topwater lure. He claimed the lead at 10:36 a.m.

"I love topwater," Evers said. "It doesn't get any better. It don't matter what kind of bait it is. I just like catching them on topwater. There's nothing better."

Evers said that another key to winning the tournament is to cover as muh water as possible.

"Really, that's it," Evers said. "The guy that covers the most amount of water in these events like this is the guy that succeeds."

Unlike Evers, Ashley improved his weight over two days.

Despite registering a 3-5 spotted bass at 11:33 a.m., Ehrler's weight fell by 4-3. He caught a largemouth bass out of the same brushpile immediately after. He caught them on a worm-rigged wacky style, with a bare hook through the middle of the lure.

Like Evers, Ehrler said fishing a lot of water was key to having a chance to win.

"I don't need to see anymore," Ehrler said after catching those two fish. "There's one little spot over there where I can catch a 3-pounder. "I've got to find more water. I hated to come in here, but at least I know they're still here."

Connell, who averaged about 2 pounds, 2 ounces per fish on Thursday, said that he spent the morning fishing too fast and needed to slow down.

Jacob Wheeler (5/10-3; 25-6), who is on track to break many of Kevin VanDam's records, fell from fourth place to 18th. He fished offshore both days with spinning rigs. He caught a 2-1 spotted bass at 9:39 a.m., that was representative of his day's five-fish limit.

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