MUSKOGEE, Okla. — After narrowly missing out on his second Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year in 2009, Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., is leaving little to chance in 2010 with a dominating regular-season Bassmaster Elite Series run, which has set him up nicely heading into the Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason, set for July 24-31 in the Montgomery, Ala., River Region.
To calculate the Postseason scores, BASS takes the regular-season Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points total and moves the decimal point to the left. Each angler then receives a two-point bonus for each Elite Series regular-season win. Reese, who scored six top-five finishes in the eight Elite events, ended up with a spectacular 216 points, which is miles ahead of the 204 point total he had heading into last season.
"I've had my eye on the Angler of the Year the entire year," said Reese, who won the AOY in 2007. "That is and always will be my ultimate goal. I feel extremely confident on any body of water right now so I just can't wait to get started."
The Postseason is structured so that the top 12 anglers in the field all have a shot at bringing home the most coveted award in bass fishing, the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, and the accompanying $200,000 top prize. Of those chasing Reese, his closest competitor, Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., would appear to pose the biggest threat. Evers had a solid regular-season and amassed 201 points heading into the Postseason.
But Reese's — and every other Elite angler's — worst nightmare, Kevin VanDam finished ultra-strong in the regular season. After looking unlikely to qualify for the Postseason, VanDam, who has won the previous two AOY titles, scored a victory at the seventh Elite event of the season on Kentucky Lake and posted a strong sixth-place finish at this week's Sooner Run. VanDam's strong closing performance lifted him into a tie for fourth in the Postseason standings with 185 points.
"No matter what sport it is, you always want to be performing your best when you head into the Postseason," said VanDam, a five-time Angler of the Year. "And I feel like I am fishing to the best of my abilities right now. I'm excited to get into that Postseason. To be able to have a chance at the Angler of the Year, no matter what seed you are, you need to be in the Postseason. It's such an exciting format."
Reese and VanDam are both repeat qualifiers for the Postseason as is third-place competitor, Cliff Pace of Petal, Ala. Pace quietly put together a stellar season, cashing a check in seven of eight Elite events.
Two Postseason newcomers, Derek Remitz of Grant, Ala., (tied for fourth with VanDam) and Terry Butcher of Talala, Okla., (sixth) round out the top half of the field. The full list of qualifiers is below, including the reset points each angler will hold heading into the Postseason.
On the strength of his Sooner Run victory, Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., moved up to seventh in the standings with 182 points. Biffle is one of three Okie anglers in the field. Alabama also will send three to the event.
The Postseason will feature two two-day competitions, each scored on a 50-point sliding scale. First place will receive 50 points in each event while 12th will receive 10. The Postseason, Toyota Trucks Championship Week, is set for July 24-31 and will be played out once again on two productive Alabama fisheries. The first leg, the July 24-25 Ramada Trophy Chase, returns to Lake Jordan out of Wetumpka. The finale, the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph, is slated for July 30-31 on the Alabama River from Montgomery.
Name, Hometown Postseason Points
1. Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif. 216
2. Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla. 201
3. Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss. 187
4. Derek Remitz, Grant, Ala. 185
4. Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. 185
6. Terry Butcher, Talala, Okla. 184
7. Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla. 182
8. John Crews, Salem, Va. 181
9. Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas 177
9. Greg Hackney, Gonzales, La. 177
9. Aaron Martens, Leeds, Ala. 177
9. Russ Lane, Prattville, Ala. 177