KVD has culled twice in 2 cast for a 3lb upgrade. Photo by Marshal Billy Black.
Realistically, even a Toyota AOY is going to have a letdown somewhere along the way. A key seems to be when he has it. Have it too early and it gets the entire season off on the wrong foot. Bomb in the first tournament and you may find yourself pressing in the next. Pretty soon, one bad tournament snowballs into three … or four … or a full season. Have the bad tournament late and you get run down from behind. There are almost always a few competitors within striking distance if the leader has a bad day at the last event.
Kevin Ledoux with a 2 fish flurry resulting in keepers 7 and 8. Both fish were over 2 pounds and culled one pounders. Photo by Mark Keith
Five of the seven AOYs in the Elite era won at least one tournament in the season they captured the crown. VanDam won twice in 2008 and Reese did the same in 2010. Only Reese in 2009 and VanDam in 2011 finished the season without a trophy, and both of them had a second place finish that year.
Remitz upgrades and is now around 15 lbs. Photo by Marshal Chris Reeves.
Jeremy Starks hand lands a nice Alabama River bass. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Wesley Seal.
Here’s the worst finish by any angler who won AOY (or led through the regular season): 2006 – Michael Iaconelli – 66th 2007 – Skeet Reese – 67th 2008 – Kevin VanDam – 56th 2009 – Skeet Reese – 29th 2010 – Skeet Reese – 59th 2011 – Kevin VanDam – 33rd 2012 – Brent Chapman – 68th