Following a solid sixth place finish at Wheeler Lake, Todd Faircloth has reclaimed the lead in the 2008 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year contest.
"I know it sounds trite, but I'm really thrilled to be where I am with over half the season behind us," the Texas angler said. "It's a real honor to be in the hunt for Angler of the Year. I mean, who wouldn't feel that way? Most of us consider it to be the most prestigious title in all of bass fishing."
His positive attitude notwithstanding, Faircloth recognizes there's a long, tough road ahead.
"This is not the time to stumble or stub my toe. This is the time to get serious and catch fish. Kevin (VanDam) and Skeet (Reese) and Mike (McClelland) are right behind me and you know they're going to catch fish in every tournament. They always do. This year will be no different. I know that.
"Our point system makes it possible to rise or fall in the standings very quickly depending upon how you perform in a particular tournament. Fishing against these guys is like being in the water with sharks circling you. Any one of them can get you at any time. You know that and so do they."
Faircloth denies feeling any pressure himself but says his wife and family can't say the same thing.
"She's more into it than I am, and so is my family. They give me updates and keep me informed of what everyone's doing. I try to just laugh it off and tell them I'll do my best in every tournament. That's all I can do. But they still worry and root a lot.
"To be fair, though, it's tougher on them than it is on me. I'm out on the water trying to make something happen and at least have the advantage of being able to control my own destiny. My wife and family are not so fortunate. All they can do is sit around with their fingers crossed, wondering what's happening and hoping for the best. That's tough. It really is."
All that said, Faircloth admits that he's beginning to think about what it might be like to be the Angler of the Year. He knows it would solidify his place in bass fishing history and make a world of difference to his career and finances.
"It would mean the world to me in so many different ways. I know how important it would be. Regardless of what happens, though, I've had one heck of a good season and couldn't be happier. I'm thankful for that, more than anyone knows. I really am.
"Hopefully, it'll all come down to the last tournament, and I'll still be in contention. If that's the case, I'll be able to say the outcome was determined by my efforts and by my performance, not someone else's. That's about all a man can ask for, really."