Last time we covered the chase for a spot in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic and the big names who are struggling to make it this year. Now let’s reverse field to take a closer look at the top end of the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race where a handful of names are vying for fishing’s most prestigious title.
At the top of this stellar heap is Alton Jones. Few want the title more than the 2008 Bassmaster Classic champ, and he’s put himself in great position to win it. Halfway through the season, he leads by 56 points, a pretty fair margin for this point in the year. (Last year at this stage, despite an amazing start, Skeet Reese only had a 53 point lead.)
Jones has experience chasing the AOY title. He was second in 2003 (losing to Jay Yelas) and has four other top 10 finishes in his career.
Terry Scroggins is currently second. His best finish came in 2005, when he was third behind Aaron Martens and Marty Stone. He was also fourth in 2007 and ninth in 2008.
Everyone expected Scroggins to get off to a good start since the Elites debuted with two Florida events, and few are better in the Sunshine State than Big Show. If he can outpace Jones, he’ll become the first Florida resident since Roland Martin in 1985 to win AOY.
Jones and Scroggins can both take a little comfort in the fact that no eventual AOY since the inception of the Elite Series has ranked lower than second at this stage of the season.
Unfortunately for them, in third place is their worst nightmare — six time winner and three time defending champion Kevin VanDam. KVD is 114 points back of Jones and 58 points behind Scroggins. Only one angler has ever overcome that kind of deficit. Of course, it That’s nearly twice the deficit that any angler has ever overcome with four tournaments to go, but none of those anglers was Kevin VanDam, so you have to give him a fighting chance.
Chris Lane (4th), Jeff Kriet (5th), Steve Kennedy (6th) and the other top-ranking anglers are having fine seasons, but history says they’re too far back with too little time to play to make a run at AOY.
In the final analysis, it’s a three-horse race with Jones, Scroggins and VanDam making the turn into the final half of the 2011 track. Look for one of them to take home the hardware.