Meet the Elite field of dreams
A pro angler's dreams can come true by triumphing at the July 24-31 Toyota Trucks Championship Week, thus capturing the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year crown and the $200,000 that comes with the coveted title.
In his hometown, such a win would be even sweeter.
Russ Lane is the only angler for whom such a rush is possible this year. A native of the Central Alabama area, Lane lives in Prattville, a bedroom community to Montgomery, the host city of the Postseason's leg on the Alabama River. He once lived on Lake Jordan, the Coosa River impoundment where the postseason's first leg will be played. He's very comfortable on both fisheries.
Aaron Martens lives in Leeds, near Birmingham, but he's a California native. Since he's lived in Alabama, Martens has developed a solid working knowledge of Coosa River fisheries, especially the 2010 Bassmaster Classic venue of Lay Lake.
Derek Remitz moved from Minnesota via Texas to Grant, Ala., as an Elite rookie in 2007, so his Alabama roots are not deep. Remitz, who turned 28 at the end of June, is the youngest 2010 crown contender. New to the Postseason, Remitz is also new to Bassmaster events on the lake and river, although his Classic appearance in 2007 gave him a taste of Lay Lake.
Three qualifiers are from Oklahoma. One is returning Postseason pro Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, who did very well on Lake Jordan and the Alabama River last year: 2nd on the lake, 3rd on the river. If not for a livewell blooper when on Jordan (he turned himself in to tournament officials for inadvertently possessing more than five bass), Biffle could have finished even better. Plus, Biffle is scorching hot. He won the Elite Series regular-season finale on Fort Gibson Lake and this past week won another tournament in Tennessee.
The other two Oklahomans are Talala brothers-in-law Edwin Evers and Terry Butcher, both first-timers for the Postseason. Evers is in second place in points going into the Postseason, only 15 points behind the leader, Skeet Reese. Evers last competed on the Alabama River in 2003 and 2004, finishing the latter event in 2nd place. Butcher's Bassmaster history on the Alabama River consists of a 32nd in an Open championship in 2004, but he's seen Lay Lake, during his first Classic just this year.
Five-time Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam might be from Kalamazoo, Mich., but he's proved Alabama fisheries are his for the taking. He won the Alabama River leg in the 2009 Postseason to take his fifth AOY title. A few months later, he won the 2010 Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake, a Coosa River impoundment. VanDam comes into the Postseason in fourth place, tied with Remitz, within striking distance.
The man everyone's trying to beat, Skeet Reese, lives in California, but like VanDam, Reese excels wherever he goes. He picked up six top-5s, including two wins, during the regular Elite season. He is looking to take back the AOY title, which he claimed in 2007 and had taken away from him by VanDam in 2008 and 2009. His nearest challenger this year is not VanDam, but Evers, yet VanDam in within range.
Returning Postseason qualifier Gary Klein lives in Weatherford, Texas, but he's a native of northern California. At 52, Klein is the oldest in the field, but only four months older than Biffle. Klein's long career has brought him to Alabama many times; he's done well — and not-so-well — there. His best Alabama finish was 2nd place on a Coosa River lake, Neely Henry, in 1997. His record in the 2009 Postseason was 11th on the lake, 7th on the river.
Cliff Pace, 30, from Petal, Miss., is a returning qualifier. He's been successful since moving up to the Elites in 2007, seemingly launched by his 2nd-place finish in the 2008 Bassmaster Classic. Pace, who is still looking for his first Elite-level win, ranks third in the points standings. Angler of the Year for him could be just on the other side of a big effort in Alabama: Pace trails leader Reese by 29 points, and Evers by 14.
John Crews, 32, is from Salem, Va. His is riding high after a 2010 win in California and a 3rd on Alabama's Lake Guntersville, finishes that propelled him into his first Postseason at place No. 8.
Another Postseason rookie, Greg Hackney, is an Arkansas native who's lived in Louisiana for some time. He comes into the Postseason in a four-way tie with Klein, Martens and Lane. With 177 points — 39 ticks from the top — any of the bottom four still are close enough for the AOY win, as are the field's top eight.
2010 TOYOTA TRUCKS CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK
Field and Standings
No.: Angler: 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
5. Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. 185
6. Terry Butcher, Talala, Okla. 184
7. Tommy Biffle, Waggoner, 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
BM.COM TO SHOW OFF AT ICAST
The nation's biggest sportfishing show, ICAST, is set for July 14-16 and Bassmaster.com will provide users with a backstage pass to experience the Las Vegas-based show, which is open to the trade only. As the only media outlet granted exclusive access to the show before the doors open on July 14, Bassmaster.com will provide fishing fanatics with the ultimate sneak-peak.
The Site will also feature extensive photo galleries and in-depth descriptions of new product launches. Kyte, the real-time video service that can be viewed from Bassmaster Elite Series events, will also play a role in the coverage as BASS staff will procure interviews with Elite anglers and manufacturers.
Cluck, cluck, slurp
The Montgomery Riverwalk and "Alley" area is quickly gaining fans in Alabama and beyond as a hip downtown destination. It's a natural that the July 24-31 Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason in Montgomery would get in on that, and it has.
From 2-5 p.m. CT on July 31, the Miller High Life "Cluck & Suds" Festival on Coosa Street will satisfy any and all cravings for wings, whether they be mild, medium, hot on-fire-like-a-bass-pro-with-a-25-pound-sack. The all-you-can-eat event is $10.
New postseason prizes
For the first time, prizes will be awarded to segment winners in the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason.
The winner of each leg will receive a $60,000 bass rig (as well as the optimum number of points, 50).
In the first leg, July 24-25 on Alabama's Lake Jordan, the winner will receive a Triton 20XS with a Mercury 225 Optimax engine on a Triton tandem-axle trailer. It is fitted with a MotorGuide TR82 digital trolling motor and Lowrance HDS-8 electronics package.
For the final leg, July 29-20 on the Alabama River out of Montgomery, the winner's prize will be a Skeeter ZX225 with a Yamaha VF225 on a Skeeter tandem-axle trailer. It has a Minn Kota Fortrex trolling motor and Humminbird 788c electronics.
To win a postseason leg, an angler will need the highest weight of bass after the two days of competition.
An angler's finish in each leg is worth points that will be added to the angler's regular-season points to determine the overall winner, the taker of the 2010 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title. The AOY winner does not have to win either the lake or river event, but he must amass the most points.
The AOY crown itself carries a $200,000 prize.|
More Classic facts
A week ago, BASS Reporter's Notebook presented notes on the 2011 Bassmaster Classic qualifiers who emerged from the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series. Below is a look at Elite pros who did not make the initial cut, but who still might be headed to Louisiana for the Feb. 18-20 Classic on the Louisiana Delta.
On pins and needles. First out of the cut at No. 38 was California's Jared Lintner. He has the hard job of waiting to see if he will, after all, score a Classic berth. That could happen if one of Lintner's fellow Elite pros qualifies twice — once through the Elite Series, and again through another circuit.
Derek Remitz, Bobby Lane and Terry Scroggins, for example, won Classic seats through the Elite Series. They also are doing well enough in the Southern points race to end up as double qualifiers. If any one of them succeeds at taking one of the Open's two Classic slots, Lintner gets in.
Lintner has awhile to sweat it out: the Southern Open circuit won't wrap up until Oct. 9. Getting into his third Classic competition would be a nice break, making up somewhat for an early season freeway accident that demolished his boat and much of his tackle.
Déjà vu. If Mark Tucker has a strange feeling that he has been here before, he's right. "Here," in his case, is teetering on the Classic cutline at No. 39, two places out.
Like Jared Lintner (see above), all Tucker can do is wait to see if a fellow Elite pro double-qualifies.
Tucker went through the same ordeal after the 2009 season when he was in a three-way tie at No. 37. Defending Classic champ Skeet Reese double-qualified, so a tie-breaker was applied. Tucker lost to South Dakota's Jami Fralick. Then Elite pro James Niggemeyer of Texas doubled through the Bassmaster Central Open, and Tucker won a tie-breaker to go to his seventh Classic.
All tied up. The Northern Open circuit, which will begin July 22 on Lake Champlain out of Plattsburgh, N.Y., could end up producing one or two Classic double-qualifiers, thus open the Classic door to additional Elite pros.
Five of the 23 Elite pros signed up for the 2010 Northern Open already earned one of the 37 Classic slots awarded through the Elites. They are Arkansas' Mike McClelland (in at 15th) and Scott Rook (17th), New Jersey's Mike Iaconelli (22nd), North Carolina's Dave Wolak (23rd), and Alabama's Gerald Swindle (28th).
If any of the five double-qualifies, their beneficiaries (after Jared Lintner and Mark Tucker — see above) could include one or two of the three pros tied at No. 40: 2010 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year Bradley Roy of Kentucky; Davy Hite, the South Carolinian who would like to return to the Louisiana Delta, the site of his 1999 Classic victory; and Rick Morris of Virginia, seeking his 5th Classic qualification.
A complex tie-breaker procedure would have to be applied to determine if Roy, Hite and/or Morris would be in or out.