Todd Faircloth, capitalizing on a rocket start this year, has inched ahead of Mike McClelland by 27 points to claim the lead in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.
Faircloth finished 8th at the Harris Chain, 23rd at Kissimmee, 41st at Falcon, 1st at Amistad and 7th at Clarks Hill.
That record — he's fished three Sundays out of five events — leaves no doubt about his versatility. He can catch bass in the shallow, weedy waters of Florida and in the deep, structure laden waters of his home state of Texas. And, now that the results are in from Clarks Hill, we know he can chase transition bass, too.
"I feel fortunate to be where I am," he said. "But, I don't want to get too far ahead of the ball here. We still have over half the season remaining and a lot of things could change in the next few months. In fact, a lot of things will change over the next few months. I just hope it's not my fishing."
Faircloth admits that his excellent start has given him new confidence. He feels a fresh sense of certainty about his decision making and worries less about the outcome of tournaments.
"At least 75 percent of this sport is mental. It's about making the right decisions when a tournament is on the line. I've gotten better at that this year and feel as if I can win anytime I'm out there. A lot of that is confidence, pure and simple. When you are confident and have a feeling of respect about your fishing those things are easier to do.
"Clarks Hill is a perfect example. I haven't done well there in the past but this year was different. I fished a stump the first day and caught fish. After that I had to chase them like everyone else. But, I was able to do that and finished seventh."
Faircloth is especially proud of his sponsors and his relationship with them. "I have some of the best sponsors in the industry. That's a good feeling, and that helps stabilize my finances, which helps a lot," he explained. "But, don't get me wrong. I still have to catch fish and cash checks to stay ahead.
"My family travels with me, too. We have a big camper and that helps. I don't miss them as much, and they don't miss me as much. We spend time together when I'm not fishing, and that lets me concentrate when I am fishing."
Despite all this — and his obviously good position in the race — Faircloth refuses to predict the future or make any statement about his chances of winning the prestigious honor.
"Like I said, there's no reason to get too far ahead of the ball. It's a long season and I've just gotten started. I'm a philosophical type of guy. I believe whatever will be, will be. Maybe it'll work out for me, maybe not. Either way I'll spend time with my family and enjoy life as best I can.
"I will admit, though, I'd like to win it."