After a grueling, cross-country Elite Series season that took the best anglers in all of fishing from one coast to the other, the moment of truth has finally arrived. For the 12 men who remained standing atop the AOY standings when the regular season wrapped up on Oklahoma's Fort Gibson Lake last month, it all comes down to this.
Toyota Trucks Championship Week, which kicks off this Saturday in Wetumpka, Ala., features a slightly different tournament format than the regular season Elite events. The week begins with a two-day tournament on Lake Jordan (July 24-25) and then wraps up five days later on the Alabama River (July 30-31). For this week, gone are the four-day events that give the pros a chance to play it safe and give things a chance to materialize out on the water. This is bass fishing's playoff series, and the pressure will be on.
If it pans out anything like last year, the event will make for an exciting week. And even though the Fantasy Fishing season is over, it's worth taking a close look at this event and how these 12 pros will match up against each other and on these bodies of water. At the very least, it may give you some insight into next year's fantasy season.
As this year's winner in our BASS Publications Fantasy Fishing league (Micropterus Publicatus), I've been tasked with bringing you my prediction on who will come out on top this week and become the 2010 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
The oddsmakers have spoken and are giving Tommy Biffle 6-to-1 odds to win the whole thing, which puts him behind Skeet Reese (2-to-3), Edwin Evers (2-to-1) and Kevin VanDam (4-to-1). Biffle won the final event of the regular season in his backyard in Oklahoma, and I believe he will carry that momentum into the postseason and, in an upset, win the title on two bodies of water he is very comfortable fishing.
BASS' inaugural postseason took place on these same two fisheries last year at a similar time of year. As you know, KVD went on to upset Skeet Reese for the title then, but Biffle was the guy who really stood out. He nearly won the first leg on Jordan (and would have if it weren't for a culling rule penalty) and, after another strong performance on the Alabama River in the second tournament, finished third overall in the final AOY standings.
I know Skeet Reese is the clear favorite heading into Championship Week, and he should be. Clearly he has put himself in position to take the title this year. But, after the magical start he had to this season, I think he's primed to be upset once more. And, while most may put their money on an upset by the skilled Evers or dangerous VanDam, I'm putting mine on the experienced Biffle to take the top title in bass fishing this year.