EUFAULA, Ala. – As you travel through the town of Eufaula, Alabama, you see the rich history of the area, with beautiful antebellum homes and century-old trees lining Eufaula Avenue. You see the welcome signs on the north and south sides of town acknowledging their bass claim to fame. You also see numerous trucks towing boats headed to Lake Eufaula.
And if you listen closely, you can hear the locals talk about the love of bass fishing this town holds.
Lake Eufaula is full of bass fishing history, with tournaments dating back to 1968. It’s a familiar lake for the anglers on the Bass Pro Tour as well, with most of them having fished there a time or two (or 10). Even if they’ve never fished the lake, the pros know Eufaula is the “Big Bass Capital of the World.”
Eufaula takes pride in that reputation. In the heart of downtown, there’s a 12-foot statue of a bass named “Manny” in reference to Bass Fishing Hall of Fame inductee Tom Mann (whose name also emblazons signs on Highway 431, the “Tom Mann Highway”)
The idea for Manny originated in the State of Alabama Tourism Department and was completed in January 2018.
It’s the perfect place for a photo opportunity in the town known for big bass.
But, that’s not the only nickname of the town. Eufaula Mayor Jack Tibbs believes that the town should also be considered the “Fishing Lure Capital of the World” due to the presence of local companies like Mann’s Bait Co., Big Bite Baits, StrikeZone Lures and a handful of others.
“We have several bait companies and contract manufacturers that produce baits for pretty much every company out there that sells baits,” Tibbs said. “There’s no telling how many millions of lures are made right here in Eufaula on an annual basis.”
“Alabama lunkers” aren’t the only things lurking in Lake Eufaula. It’s also home to the largest alligator population in the state.
Thirty-five years ago, the American alligator was placed on the endangered species list. At that point, hunting alligators became illegal, and over the next two decades, the quality habitat of Lake Eufaula helped the alligator population recover remarkably. Today, American alligators are no longer an endangered species and the state of Alabama even implemented an alligator hunting season to control the population.
“They’re kind of cool to see out there as long as you don’t mess with them,” Tibbs joked.
MLF pro Edwin Evers has had an impressive 20-plus-year career: numerous titles, memorable fish catches, and a tremendous fan base. When looking back at his career, Evers says that it all started falling into place in 2003, when he claimed his first professional win on Lake Eufaula.
That win – at an Alabama Tour event in early March – gave him confidence as a pro angler and laid the groundwork for future milestones.
“It was an amazing feeling and it really let me know, as an angler, that I was going to make it in the sport and compete against the best of the best,” Evers said.
Starting the 2020 Bass Pro Tour season at the same place he kicked off his career is a nostalgic feeling for Evers.
“It’s exciting,” Evers admitted. “That (2003) tournament allowed me to buy my first house and allowed me to establish my career. I’ve got a lot of fond memories of the (Lake Eufaula).”
Another MLF pro who has history on the lake is Keith Poche.
Poche grew up fishing club events on Lake Eufaula, and claimed big-fish honors in one of those tournaments there years ago.
“I caught an 8-pounder in about a foot of water on a spinnerbait,” Poche said. “I’ll never forget that fish. I didn’t have much to go with it, but I had a big one.”
The Bass Pro Tour B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One Presented by Power-Pole kicks off Friday, Feb. 7 in Eufaula, Alabama. You can watch the Bass Pro Tour for free on the MLF NOW! live stream on MajorLeagueFishing.com, the MLF app and the MyOutdoorTV app.