I've been asked about my thoughts on the new postseason format that BASS is using to determine the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. I'm going to do that, but before I do, I'm going to ask you to read my entire response — not just a part of it — before you form an opinion about what I think.
To be honest, I liked the old system better. I think it was a more accurate measure of who was the year's AOY, an honor earned over the course of the entire season.
When I was a kid, I used to fantasize about winning BASS awards. I'd imagine myself pulling into the final weigh-in at a Bassmaster Classic and hoisting the trophy high above my head before a cheering crowd.
I also wanted the AOY trophy. Even as a youngster I knew it was the ultimate award, something earned while battling the other guys on all sorts of different waters, under all sorts of different conditions. It was an award that said I can fish successfully against anyone over a long period of time.
The new format has changed that. Now, in addition to the eight regular season events, there are two more two-day contests between the top 12 anglers. (Yes, they all had good seasons, but only one of them had the best season.)
I've won AOY in the traditional manner. I've fished the new postseason format, and I've watched the new format from the outside looking in. Here's how it is: Last year I honestly felt uncomfortable when I was competing. I had a nagging feeling in my gut that I didn't belong in the hunt.
At the same time I'm saying this, however, I want to say that I admire BASS for being innovative and creative, and for trying to grow our sport. If you don't change and grow, you stagnate. None of us wants that to happen.
There's nothing unfair about how things are being done. We all know the rules going in. No one was sandbagged. We accept that as professionals when we fish the Elites.
And nothing I've said should detract or be read as my saying there's anything wrong with Kevin VanDam's victory or his AOY title. He put on an amazing performance and rightly deserved to win. Nothing more need be said.
Next week we'll talk about my vacation and then we'll catch some late summer/early fall bass.