KIMBERLING CITY, Mo. — A veteran angler from Camdenton, Mo., Denny Brauer knows how to bounce back from a disappointing season. Brauer, who faired poorly in his 2005 Bassmaster campaign, returned to form in 2006 and earned the Toyota Horizon award — which rewards the most improved angler of the year.
After finishing in 113th place in the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings in 2005, Brauer had a rock-solid 2006 season and is expected to end comfortably in the top 20. For such a jump in performance, Brauer earned $10,000. He outpaced his nearest competitor, Floridian Steve Daniel, by a margin of about 45 places. (Final standings will be determined upon completion of The Rock presented by TheraSeed on Sunday.)
"This is such a neat award," said Brauer, who has amassed more than $2 million in BASS earnings. "With the year I've had and this award, I have made up for what I consider a down year in 2005."
Trailing Brauer and Daniel were Texans Alton Jones and Matt Reed as well as Arizona's John Murray. Of the five, only Daniel is not expected to qualify for the 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Classic.
Brauer, the 1998 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion highlighted his 2006 season with nine top-50 cuts in Elite events, earning nearly $200,000. One of those included his win on Lake Champlain at the Champion's Choice in July.
Despite second-place Daniel improving dramatically from the 2005 Angler of the Year standings to 2006, the 52-year-old angler wasn't satisfied with his season.
"I'm still not entirely happy with the way things went," he said. "It's tough out here, competing against the best guys in the business."
Brauer joins past Toyota Horizon winners Gary Yamamoto (2005) and Bassmaster Classic champions Davy Hite (2004) and Takahiro Omori (2003).
With the successful season in the books, Brauer is looking forward to the 2007 Bassmaster Classic in February on Lay Lake.
"I always want an opportunity to fish for $500,000 and at that time of year on Lay Lake, I am very comfortable with the way the tournament will set up." Brauer said.