Alton Jones with fish No. 6. It's culling time. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Danny Truelove.
We found Paul Elias and Bernie Schultz fishing 50 feet apart not far from downtown Montgomery, maybe 10 minutes from here. Elias said he has about 13 pounds, and Schultz said he isn't faring as well. Elias said most of his action came earlier this morning, which seems to be the story on this part of the river. We're taking off again.
Takahiro Omori is in the process of culling again. He has around 8 1/2 pounds.
From Takahiro's Marshal:
#5 around around 2 lbs and on the next cast caught a 3lb or so now he is culling a 1 lb er. Pretty good upgrade.
Mike McClelland with about a 4-pounder — a nice cull up of about 2 pounds. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Tim Patterson.
Takahiro has #4 for about 2.5 lbs giving him about 7-8 lbs total.
This is probably the most important thing on this list and the one that costs would-be AOYs the title most often. They don’t mitigate their damages.
No tournament angler wins all the time. What truly separates the champs from the wannabes is damage control. When the best have a bad event, they finish 60th. When the rest bomb, they really struggle and finish near the bottom. The difference is everything.
To win AOY at the Elite level you don’t need to finish in the top 20 every time out. In fact, no one’s ever done that for a full season. Instead, you need to string together four or five very competent finishes, sprinkle in a couple of great events (including maybe a win that we’ll cover in a moment) and post only one performance that’s below average.
Of the seven eventual AOYs, the worst performance ever turned in during the season was 68th place at Douglas Lake by Brent Chapman in 2012. Iaconelli in 2006 and Reese in 2007 each had a tournament nearly as bad. Only Reese in 2009 and KVD in 2011 went the full AOY season without a finish worse than 56th, which is just outside the first cut.
More on this a little later.