Evers, a 30-year-old pro from Oklahoma, entered Sunday's final round with a lead of nearly three pounds and brought a respectable four-bass stringer weighing 15 pounds, eight ounces to the scales, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Rowland and Shimizu, who saved their best efforts for last.
Rowland, a 47-year-old Texan and past winner at Lake Guntersville, posted a five-bass limit weighing 27 pounds, six ounces Sunday for a four-day total of 87 pounds. That was enough to hold off Shimizu (85-9), who turned in the tournament's largest catch on Sunday — 30-5 — by one pound, seven ounces.
“This has just been an incredible tournament,” said Rowland, who earned $100,000 and valuable points toward the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh. “I really love this lake. This is one of the top lakes in the country. It's one of the few lakes that we fish that you have a chance to duplicate a big string day after day.
“I couldn't have fished any better than I did today. I caught 12 or 13 fish, and I only missed one. I just had a blast.”
Rowland's heroics took place in the same area where he won the 1991 BASS Alabama Invitational. After catching Saturday's biggest limit (22-6) by pitching a black-and-blue 3/8-ounce Booyah jig to docks in Seibold Creek, he used the same pattern to secure the win. His success in the opening two rounds came fishing shallow grass with a Cordell Spot lipless crankbait and a Smithwick Rogue jerkbait.
“Saturday I stumbled into another pattern — a dock pattern,” he said. “I was fishing the older docks because I knew there weren't a lot of people doing that.
“The water going down is what made the fish go to the bank. I made a pretty good adjustment the last two days.”
Shimizu, the 35-year-old host of a television fishing show in Japan, was excited by his second-place finish after enjoying his best day ever as a pro. His impressive limit, which earned him an extra $1,000 as Sunday's Busch Heavyweight, included bass weighing 6-15, 6-13 and 6-8.
One of the six pounders came on the last cast of the day.
“I love Lake Guntersville,” said Shimizu, who pocketed $38,000 for his highest BASS finish in three seasons on the Tour. “Every day is exciting.”
Shimizu's big catch came on a chartreuse Strike King Series 4 crankbait fished along outside grass edges and over the top of vegetation growing on sloping banks.
His 6-15 largemouth took Sunday's Purolator Big Bass honors and earned him an additional $1,000.
Despite leading the first three days, Evers was not overly disappointed at coming up short in his bid for a third BASS victory. He settled for third with 78-1.
“I wanted to win, but I had a good tournament,” he said. “I fished hard and did my best.”
Evers concentrated his efforts on two areas throughout the tournament using a 1/2-ounce lipless crankbait.
Texan Bud Pruitt finished fourth with 73-8 pounds after catching 14-6 Sunday. His success came on two lipless crankbaits (Berkley's Frenzy Rattl'r and Rat-L-Trap) fished around shallow grass.
“This is Lake Guntersville,” he said. “If you're going to win here you'd better pound them all four days. I had two good days and two fair days.”
North Carolina's David Fritts finished fifth with 72-2, followed by Mike Hicks of Virginia with 63-10.
The Tour moves to Augusta, Ga., and J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir this week for the fourth stop on the six-event season.
Coverage of the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Tour event on Lake Guntersville will be telecast on March 5 at 10:00 a.m. ET on The CITGO Bassmasters on ESPN2.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tour include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops and Cialis (tadalafil).
Local Sponsors include the City of Guntersville, Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce, Marshall County Convention & Visitors Bureau and Guntersville Merchants.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.